Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 90. Sunrise is 6:13 AM and sunset 7:39 PM, for 13h 26m 38s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 90.2% of its visible disk illuminated.
Whitewater’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee meets at 5 PM.
Devi Shastri and Molly Beck report Tommy Thompson spurns the GOP attempt to control, block COVID rules on campuses:
University of Wisconsin System interim President Tommy Thompson said Tuesday the System will not follow a directive by Republican lawmakers to seek legislative approval for COVID-19 rules, essentially daring members of his own party to take the now month-long fight to the courts.
In a statement and an interview with reporters Tuesday, Thompson said the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules’ attempt to control and block campus COVID-19 prevention protocols was “both wrong on the law and wrong as a matter of public policy.”
The motion, proposed by state Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, and passed on a party-line vote Aug. 3, requires UW to seek permission from the rules committee for policies such as those that require students and visitors to wear masks or get regularly tested for COVID-19. The committee, which is made up of six Republicans and four Democrats, could then vote to block some or all of the rules.
“Had this happened last academic year, the university might never have been able to set up community testing and vaccination sites, or even isolate sick students,” Thompson said. “It would have been a disaster.”
On Tuesday, Thompson said the System won’t seek approval from the committee and vowed to take any legal fight up to the state Supreme Court if necessary.
“I’m fairly confident we’re going to win. I have no doubts (of) that if the Legislature sues us,” Thompson said. “I don’t think they will, but if they do, so be it. I’m not abdicating my responsibility. We will contest it. I don’t want a fight with the Legislature, but we will contest it aggressively, whether it be the circuit court, the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.”
Thompson said UW’s situation is grounded in different legal arguments than the Wisconsin Supreme Court case that struck down the statewide mask mandate. UW System’s independent authority to run the schools is enshrined in Chapter 36 of the state statute, he said.
Nass fired back Tuesday, railing against UW’s “Ivory Tower administrators” who he claims are using pandemic rules “to control every adult that dares to walk on their campuses.”
If UW did not comply with the rule by Sept. 2, he said, he would ask Republican state Assembly and Senate leadership to take legal action “to force the UW System to comply with state law.”
Nass’s rhetoric (or, to be more precise, the words Mike Mikalsen may have written for Nass) won’t be enough. Nass will have to persuade the legislature to sue to enforce its claimed authority. If they won’t sue, or if legislative leaders reach a deal with Thompson on Thompson’s terms, then Nass will meet the limits of his reach — a right-wing base, but no more.
Thompson’s position against Nass is institutional, legal, and (doubtless) personal, too: few outside Nass’s base respect him. Some politicians in a vocal minority are respected; Nass isn’t one of them.
An eyewitness captured footage of at least two waterspouts spinning simultaneously off North Redington Beach in Florida.