April 29, 2020
Today, the Tavern League of Wisconsin submitted an amicus brief with the Wisconsin Supreme Court in the ongoing lawsuit between the Wisconsin Legislature and the Department of Health Services Secretary. Our hope is to be able to open safely and responsibly before the current Order expires on May 26th. Many states have already begun to safely open taverns and restaurants. Our members will have been closed for 70 days through the current Order, some have gone out of business. Many businesses are open and operating safely today. Our Reopen Wisconsin – Safe at Work plan is a responsible plan to protect the public while safely opening our businesses.
The Legislature has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Department of Health Services to issue the order as an “emergency rule.” The emergency rule process provides important opportunities for public input and comment and legislative oversight – things that do not exist under the current process used by DHS. The Emergency Rule process will provide an opportunity for TLW and others to share our concerns with DHS, including our proposal to allow taverns to open under capacity limits and social distancing requirements as we have outlined in our Reopen Wisconsin – Safe at Work proposal. We believe this will lead to a more balanced approach that considers both the important public health concerns and the devastating effect the Order has had on taverns in every corner of the state.
In the coming days we expect that the Supreme Court will issue a decision on whether it will hear the case, and the determine if the Safer at Home Order must be issued as an emergency rule. We are not asking the Court to ignore COVID-19, but instead, make sure whatever requirements the government enforces are developed in compliance with state law.