Wisconsinites can now get their booze to go, after Governor Tony Evers signed into law on Friday a bill that allows restaurants and bars to sell cocktails and wine for Wisconsinites on the go.
The bill, which took effect yesterday, comes after a tough financial year for the state’s bars and restaurants — as they’ve struggled with occupancy limits and other COVID-19 public health measures.
A separate bill, allowing grocery stores and liquor stores to sell drinks by the cup, is still under consideration in the state legislature
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, prior to yesterday, bars and restaurants were only allowed to sell drinks to go if they were in their original packaging. That means that bottles of wine to go were okay, but selling a cup of wine to go was illegal.
The booze-to-go bill was just one of fourteen items the Governor signed into law on Friday. Most notably, Evers gave his stamp of approval to a bill aimed at lowering prescription drug costs for Wisconsinites.
The bill sets a slew of new regulations and rules for the state’s pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers. The new provisions are targeted towards increasing transparency and accountability, all with an eye towards dropping over all prescription drug costs.
“In the state of Wisconsin, there are people who can’t afford prescription drugs,” Evers said during a press conference. “They’re cutting their pills in half, they’re putting off taking the doses they should be taking on a regular basis.”
The bill, now Wisconsin Act 9, is just one part of the Governor’s multi-pronged effort to reduce prescription drug prices for Wisconsinites. He’s also made the mission a key part of his biennial budget.
State Rep. Lisa Subeck (D-Madison), a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Reducing Prescription Drug Prices, told WORT last month that many of those provisions are targeted more at transparency than outright regulation.
“In some cases, transparency can go a long way without necessarily having to regulate things that are out of the state’s control to regulate. Certainly, people do the right thing when all eyes are on them,” she said.
The Governor also gave his stamp of approval to new standards for bear hunting, home inspectors and psychology licensing laws on Friday. Evers also signed into law a new bill updating child custody laws.
Per the new policy, a court can approve modifications to child custody orders without divorced parents returning to court — providing both parents agree to the alteration. Under previous state policy, even with the consent of both parents and the courts, child custody agreements couldn’t be modified until two years after final judgment.
But the Governor didn’t rubber stamp everything on his desk on Friday, as he vetoed a bill that would start the process for returning state employees to in-person work. In his veto message, Evers said that the law — which would have required him to submit a return-to-in-person work plan to the Republican-held state legislature — infringed upon his authority to administer state employees.
Relatedly, earlier today, Governor Evers shot down a piece of legislation from the state’s Republican-controlled legislature that would have given them oversight of federal COVID-19 relief funds. Senate Bill 183 would have forced Evers to send his proposals through the legislature’s finance committee.
That could’ve bogged down distribution of the more than $5 billion in federal funding Wisconsin is expected to receive, as the Republican-controlled finance committee will also be reconciling the Governor’s biennial budget in the coming months.
Evers vetoed the bill during a press conference at Miss Molly’s Café & Pastry Shop in Milwaukee this afternoon.
“I’m going to veto senate bill 183, to be sure that once we get the guidance we need from the federal government, we can work to get these funds out quickly so they don’t get tied up in some political fight in the legislature,” he told reporters.
Evers’ veto sets up a likely legal battle between himself and the state’s Republicans. Speaking in the assembly’s chamber last week, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said that a veto would indicate that Evers was attempting to skirt oversight and transparency.
Said Vos: “If, for some reason, the Governor chooses to veto this bill, we will have no choice but to go to court. The constitution is crystal clear…the Governor does not have the right to commit the legislature, the constitutional body that appropriates funds, he does not have the right to put us on the hook with the federal government unilaterally.”
A significant chunk of that federal relief, more than two billion dollars, has already been earmarked by the feds for local governments and municipalities. The governor has jurisdiction over the remaining $3.2 billion.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that more than, not less than, five billion dollars will be allocated to Wisconsin as part of the federal government’s relief aid.