MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers on Friday vetoed Republican-backed bills that would have prevented health officials from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine and allowed churches to be closed during the pandemic.
Evers said in his veto messages that he objected to the bills because they limited his ability to respond to the pandemic.
The action has little immediate effect. There is no state order limiting how many people can gather in churches or any indoor venue, although there are some limited local ordinances. There are also no mandates in place from state or local health officials requiring vaccines for the general population.
The vetoes come after Evers on Thursday vetoed a package of Republican bills seeking to spend $3.2 billion in federal coronavirus relief aid coming to the state. The law gives the governor the power to distribute that money and Evers does not want to cede that to the GOP-controlled Legislature.
Republicans have successfully sued to overturn Evers orders related to the pandemic, including a “safer at home” order and mask mandate. They have also threatened to sue over Evers’ control of the federal money.
As of Friday, more than 30% of the state was fully vaccinated. The seven-day average of new cases was 653, down from 754 a week ago.