State senator calls on legislative leaders to sue UW system over COVID-19 pandemic regulations
MADISON (WKOW) – State Senator Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) is calling on legislative leaders to take legal action against the UW system for refusing to comply with the rules regarding COVID-19 mandates.
On August 3, the Joint Business Rules Revision Committee (JCRAR) voted to require the UW system to bring any new pandemic restriction proposals to the legislative committee for approval by lawmakers. After that vote, the UW system had 30 days to declare an emergency rule to enforce policies such as mandatory testing for unvaccinated students or mask requirements. All newly published rules must be approved by JCRAR.
On August 24, UW System Chairman Tommy Thompson said he was ready for the UW System to defend itself against any lawsuits brought by the legislature or Conservative groups who have filed other lawsuits challenging the pandemic restrictions.
Thompson advised the 13 UW campuses to work with local health officials to determine whether they should promulgate mask orders.
According to Nass’s letter, UW system officials told the JCRAR co-chairs on September 2 that they had “no intention of complying with the direction issued by the joint committee or fulfilling their statutory responsibilities such as than contained in the Wisconsin Administrative Rules Act “. Nass says the UW System’s COVID-19 policies are not covered by Wisconsin’s rule-making exemptions that would relieve it, as a state agency, of administrative rules law procedures.
Nass issued the following statement on his request to legislative leaders:
“The UW system does not simply refuse to follow state law, it is now an agency challenging the constitutional authority of the legislature. The UW system has offered an ever-evolving twist on their claim to have a mythical independent authority to do whatever they want to mature students and visitors to campus.
If the UW system is allowed to act illegally simply because it is temporarily under the leadership of a former Republican governor, then majority party members in the legislature are not committed to the rule of law.
When there are disputes between the legislature and state agencies over constitutional governance and the rule of law, we must seek resolution in the courts. I have formally called on Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu to take legal action against the UW system to secure respect for state law.
You can read Nass’ full letter below or by clicking here.