GOP gavels in, gavels out of unemployment session

Republican leaders in the Assembly immediately gaveled out.
Published: Jan. 19, 2021 at 1:49 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican legislative leaders have refused to convene for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ special session on his plan to upgrade the state’s unemployment benefits system.

Evers announced the session during his State of the State speech earlier this month and called for it to begin at noon on Tuesday. Republican leaders in the Assembly gaveled in at 12:30 p.m. and immediately gaveled out.

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke argued the governor already had the ability to make the changes he wanted when calling for the session and that the legislature doesn’t need to do anything.

“Governor Evers knows full well that he’s had the power to initiate the changes he’s asking for without a special session or bill from the legislative branch,” he said.

Senate Republicans followed suit a half hour later. The state Department of Workforce Development has been struggling to process millions of unemployment claims since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.

Republicans have spent months criticizing Evers over the backlog, accusing him of making people wait for months for payouts. Evers has blamed an antiquated processing system.

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