An odd quiet pervades the majestic Capitol building on May 5. The building is normally abuzz with business of the state, and groups touring the grand old building. Footsteps echo in the marbled halls, numbers few due to “Safer At Home.” The scant numbers do not reflect the importance of today.
The Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules convenes, regarding CR 19-079. In brief, CR 19-079 would empower the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to enhance and amend some vaccine requirements. Some gather nearby to watch the proceedings. Though not in conjunction with coronavirus, the proposed rule change received a high level of attention as vaccine requirements will continue to be debated.
As parents it should be your decision, in coordination with medical practitioners, how or whether to implement a vaccine protocol. You, on behalf of your children, and we, as adults, should be empowered to make medical decisions of our own accord. Millions of adults opt for a flu shot, others choose to forgo. This debate may dominate the future of a potential coronavirus vaccine. Advocates for medical freedom rightly won a victory when the committee rejected the rule changes.
The big event this day is oral arguments in Wisconsin Legislature v. Andrea Palm, the key case in whether Palm, the DHS Secretary, overstepped her constitutional authority when “Safer At Home” was extended to May 26, without legislative oversight or input.
The Supreme Court proceedings were a Brady Bunch-like split screen that would focus on the speaker. Around the 48-minute mark in Wisconsin Eye coverage, Justice Rebecca Bradley lowered the boom, asking, “Where in the Wisconsin constitution did the people confer authority on a single, unelected cabinet secretary to compel almost six million people to stay at home and close their businesses and face imprisonment if they don’t comply, with no input from the legislature, without the consent of the people?” Ensuing arguments largely centered around any limitations on the secretary’s authority.
For eight days, the people of Wisconsin waited. On May 13, the Court decision in favor of the Legislature was announced, ending “Safer At Home.” Wisconsinites in most areas could start to go about everyday activities. A number of provisions of “Safer At Home” remain as suggested protocols, including frequent hand washing, social distancing, and more. Several cities and counties continue the “Safer At Home” guidelines.
Across the state, reaction to renewed personal ownership of responsibility had a wide range of responses. Many businesses are practicing new ways of delivering services while others immediately resumed “normal” activities.
Interviewed by CNN on May 17, and covered in a Newsweek story that day, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar stated “he has not seen any spikes in coronavirus cases in states that recently reopened.” A Washington Post story the same day brought up a new challenge, “While many states no longer report crippling supply shortages, a new problem has emerged: too few people lining up to get tested.”
The Supreme Court decision dealt Gov. Tony Evers and his administration another major rebuke regarding overreach of authority. After the announcement, Evers immediately attacked the decision, not on legal or constitutional grounds, but by stoking fear, commenting on his Facebook page “Our ability to respond quickly has saved lives and now, despite that good work and the efforts of Wisconsinites, Republican legislators have convinced four members of the Supreme Court to throw Wisconsin into chaos, putting public health and lives at serious risk.”
Evers’ next move was to draft a statement of scope seeking to reinstate many restrictions. Any proposed rule would have to clear the Republican-controlled JCRAR, who made it clear any new rules wouldn’t make it past the committee. On Monday, Evers withdrew his proposal.
The Supreme Court ruled correctly on the overreach. Neither Secretary Palm, nor Gov. Evers have the power to execute government by fiat for an extended period of time.
The freedom to make choices lies in your hands, as it should. This freedom doesn’t mean you can’t practice social distancing or choose to stay more isolated than others. You decide your own comfort level of distancing or isolation. You can choose whether to wear a mask, or whether you don’t. A business may choose whether to require a mask, social distancing or other limitations.
For many, it’s the opportunity to return to work, or move about as one desires, while still mindful of others. Instead of limiting all citizens, more time and resources can be focused on those truly at risk, or in need of care, with a greater specific focus. We, as individuals now have greater culpability for our own responsibility. Make your choices wisely.
Scott Frostman lives in Baraboo and has roots throughout Wisconsin. He believes anyone can make a difference and can be reached at email@example.com.
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