By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — The Evers administration issued a new round of guidance Tuesday, demanding state employees who have not been vaccinated begin weekly COVID-19 testing starting Oct. 18.
A Republican legislative leader called the administration’s edict a “tyrannical” move, and one state employee tells Empower Wisconsin he’ll quit before he’ll conform.
Evers has been strangely quiet about President Joe Biden’s constitutionally suspect COVID-19 vaccine mandates for federal employees and private sector workers at businesses with 100 employers or more. Instead, Evers’ secretary of Administration, Joel Brennan, came out with the new orders.
While they don’t mandate vaccines — yet — they do subject all executive branch employees, interns and contract staff “who have not self-reported their vaccine status or have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19” to weekly testing.
State employees have for weeks been required to report their vaccination status. That doesn’t change.
“Please report your status if you haven’t already, and know that your vaccine status will be treated as confidential medical information,” Brennan wrote in his “Dear colleague,” letter.
He boasted that 87 percent of state workers have already submitted their vaccination status and close to 70 percent of state employees reported being at least partially vaccinated, based on required self-reporting.
Doug, who works for state government in Madison, said he will not be joining the ranks of the vaccinated.
“I’m at the point where enough is enough,” he told Empower Wisconsin Tuesday on the Vicki McKenna Show. “I am not going to subject myself to weekly testing. I have had COVID, I was hospitalized with it, so I’m not minimizing it, but I’m also not going to take the vaccine.”
“So now they’re treating us as second-class citizens, and it’s just more of the same of punishing anybody who won’t conform,” he added.
Doug said he and other state employees learned about the new guidance during a state government webinar.
Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) said he sent a letter to the governor last week requesting the legal authority under which the administration began requesting disclosure of private, sensitive medical information from state employees. He said the response from the administration lacked any mention of the laws or authority which would allow it to make such an “invasive request.”
“Today, Governor Evers’ Administration — not on the basis of law but rather through coerced medical disclosures from workers – has issued a sweeping new testing mandate on state employees and contractors,” LeMahieu said in a statement.
The majority leader said Evers “seems intent on following Joe Biden into legal quicksand in their continued attempts to exert unilateral control over people’s lives.”
“Our American system of checks and balances is specifically designed to prevent the type of concentration of power currently being exercised around the state and nation. Lawmaking is for state legislatures and congress, not tyrannical governors or presidents,” he said.
LeMahieu said the state Senate will explore all options within its authority to protect the rights of Wisconsinites and prevent further abuses by overreaching executives.