WI Gov. Tony Evers signs executive orders for rural needs but bills face uncertain future

Cows on farm


. The orders will create a Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity and call the Legislature to meet in a special session for a package of bills.

Governor Tony Evers looked back on some successes including creating the Climate Change Task Force, signing protections for LGBT state employees and issuing pardons. But now, he’s shifting focus to the year ahead.

“Between 2011 and 2018, Wisconsin lost about a third of our dairy farms. We lead the nation in farm bankruptcies,” said Evers, during the speech.

The legislature will meet starting next Tuesday to take up a package of rural related bills. It includes support for farmers with mental illness and stress, creating a Small Farm Diversity grant program and a Farm to Fork Grant program, as well as an initiative for dairy exports.

“We’re going to set a goal of increasing Wisconsin’s dairy exports to 20 percent of the United States’ milk supply by 2024,” Evers said.

To accomplish these goals, the Governor is going to work with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to establish the Office of Rural Prosperity.

“The office will provide a one-stop-shop for folks to navigate state programs and resources tailored to rural communities, businesses, and workers,” Evers said.

And the Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity will bring stakeholders from across the state together.

“They’ll work together to develop long-term strategies on how we can best support the needs of rural Wisconsinites and rural communities,” Evers said.

But it’s unclear if these bills from the Democratic Governor will get the support they need from Republicans to pass. Both the State Assembly and Senate are controlled by Republicans.

“Our progress will not be thwarted by a liberal Governor who pushes a far-left agenda and simply doesn’t believe in open, transparent and limited government,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva. He made the comments during the Weekly Radio Address for Wisconsin Assembly Republicans.

In response to Evers calling for the special session, Speaker Robin Vos said the Assembly will not be on the floor next week. Instead, the bills will be referred to committee.

“It’s important that we continue to listen to Wisconsinites who live in our rural communities before moving forward on anything,” said Vos, in a statement.

During the State of the State, Evers also said he would sign two other executive orders. That would create a Task Force on Student Debt and a nonpartisan redistricting commission.  He says the People’s Maps Commission will draw impartial maps for the legislature to take up next year. But Republicans are rejecting the idea.