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Wisconsin Senate votes to override 9 vetoes by Evers

Republicans in the state Senate were quick to tout the veto overrides on Tuesday, criticizing Gov. Evers and legislative Democrats for refusing to support the measures.

Wisconsin Senate votes to override 9 vetoes by Evers

Source: Guilherme Lyra for Civic Media

May 14, 2024 3:02 PM CDT
By: Jimmie Kaska

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MADISON, Wis. (Civic Media) – The Wisconsin Senate voted on Tuesday to override nine vetoes issued by Gov. Tony Evers.

The nine bills will now head to the state Assembly.

Wisconsin’s Senate has a Republican supermajority, meaning that no Democratic votes were needed to pass the bills. All nine of the bills passed either 21-10 or 22-9.

The state Assembly does not have a veto-proof supermajority, meaning Democrats would need to vote along with Republicans to overturn any of the Governor’s vetoes. The nine bills now head to the Assembly for consideration.

Which vetoes were overturned?

You can see the bills and the veto message from Gov. Evers below, as well as a brief description of each bill.

  • Senate Bill 98, which would establish a process for verifying people on voter rolls as U.S. citizens. Evers said in his veto message that the bill would mark identification documents for all non-citizens, potentially leading to unfair treatment of those people. The Senate voted 22-9 to override the veto. The bill originally passed 21-10 in the Senate and passed the Assembly on a voice vote.

Sen. Dan Knodl said despite the veto, he would continue to work towards securing elections.

“This legislation, based on real cases currently under prosecution, is a step towards safeguarding the integrity of our electoral system,” Knodl said. “I am pleased to see my Republican colleagues join me in overriding this irresponsible veto.”

Sen. Rachael Cabral-Guevara said that the vote to overturn the veto “puts people above profits.”

“We negotiated and compromised more than the 27 other states with this law already in place, but the governor refused to put struggling patients ahead of the big-medicine lobbyists,” Cabral-Guevara said. “I’m proud to provide patients with transparent, affordable care as a nurse practitioner.”

  • Senate Bill 312 is the PFAS bill that is at the center of the dispute (and lawsuit) between legislative Republicans and Gov. Evers. Evers vetoed the bill because of how it would limit the DNR in remediation efforts and testing, among several other things. The Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee has yet to release $125 million in the state budget to help combat PFAS contamination. State Senators voted 22-9 to override the veto. The bill originally passed in the Senate 22-11 and Assembly 62-35.

Republican legislators targeted this bill specifically in press conferences and announcements the last two days, including a statement from Sen. Duey Stroebel, who said the veto removed the legal mechanism to release funding to deal with PFAS contamination in the state.

“Today, I joined my colleagues in the State Senate in voting to override a number of the Governor’s vetoes—including a veto of a bill that would have released $125 million to address PFAS contamination throughout the state,” Stroebel said. “For the fifth time this legislative session, I voted to provide Wisconsin families with the largest investment in clean drinking water in state history—five more times than every Democrat legislator in this state combined.”

Evers announced Monday he was suing lawmakers to release the funding.

  • Senate Bill 736 was one of several election integrity bills touted by legislative Republicans this session. Evers vetoed the bill in favor of keeping the current system for auditing elections, which was recently established, and criticized state legislators for attempting to take over the election audit process. The veto override vote was 22-9. It originally passed in the Senate 22-10 and Assembly by voice vote.
  • Assembly Rep. Scott Allen said that the bill doesn’t interfere with the current process of election administration.

    “Governor Evers’s veto message shows that he does not understand the purpose of this bill nor the feelings of many Wisconsinites,” Allen said. “There is nothing in the bill that interferes with the current election process or adjusts the roles and responsibilities of [the Wisconsin Elections Commission].”

    Sen. Howard Marklein, co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, said he voted to override all nine of the vetoes because they are “good policy” and criticized the governor over his veto of the emergency medical services bill.

    “The funds to support emergency rooms in those communities could already be there; Instead, he wanted his way,” Marklein said. “We just want to help people.”

    What they’re saying

    Legislative Republicans were quick to tout the veto override votes, in nearly every instance calling out Gov. Evers or Democrats in the state Senate for rejecting the legislation in the first place.

    “Most of these bills were signed into law, but many were vetoed by a Governor more focused on politics than policies that help everyday Wisconsinites,” Sen. Devin LeMahieu, Senate Majority Leader, said. “While Governor Evers plays politics, the legislature will continue to do the right thing on
    behalf of the people of our state.”

    “While it is frustrating to see Senate Democrats once again prioritize political stunts over the health of Wisconsinites, I intend to continue working to solve the real problems facing this state,” Sen. Stroebel said.

    “It’s unfortunate that Governor Evers prefers to spout political slogans instead of taking seriously the task of ensuring election integrity through robust, comprehensive, and non-partisan audits,” Rep. Allen said.

    “It is disgusting that the Governor is playing politics with the lives and wellbeing of the people of Wisconsin,” Sen. Marklein said. “If he were serious about solving problems, he would have worked with us.”

    The state’s Democratic Party responded to the veto override votes as a “desperate stunt,” calling for Republicans to release funding for dealing with PFAS contamination and emergency medical services in western Wisconsin.

    “We don’t need another round of press conferences and pointless show votes, we just need Republicans to release the money they’ve already approved and get out of the way,” Joe Oslund, Communications Director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said.

    Sen. Melissa Agard called the veto overrides “a last, pathetic grasp at power” by Republicans.

    “Senate Republicans believe by overriding these bills today, they will achieve a symbolic victory over Governor Evers,” Agard said. “Today’s overrides are the same, tired politics of the past that must end.”

    What’s Next

    The state Assembly has yet to schedule a session to take up the Senate’s veto overrides. However, a party-line vote would not be enough to override any of the nine vetoed bills.

    No Democratic state senator voted to approve any of the veto overrides.

    A two-thirds majority of the Assembly would need to vote to override any of the vetoes.

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