We have been busy in Madison with the Legislature passing multiple measures aimed at protecting both taxpayers and personal liberties.

I was proud to vote in favor of the Truth in Spending Act, also known as Senate Bill 183. Simply put, this bill would allow for legislative oversight of the billions of federal pandemic relief dollars coming to Wisconsin.

As you know, Congress passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan of 2021, which, among other things, allocated billions for the states. While I strongly oppose the outrageous amounts of spending approved in Washington, I do believe that the money must have legislative oversight and transparency as to how it is spent here in Wisconsin.

Currently, the allocation of these billions in taxpayer money are only decided by one person: Gov. Tony Evers. Therefore, both the Assembly and Senate passed legislation that would allow for legislative oversight and public input as to how the money is spent (editor’s note: Evers vetoed the bill earlier this week). Without this bill, I fear that too much of this one-time money will go toward expanding government with new programs or be skewed towards Madison and Milwaukee while our communities lose out.

Now, this is not an uncommon practice—more than half of states nationwide have similar legislative input. Nor is it a partisan idea—in 2009, the Democratic-controlled Legislature passed a bill requiring legislative oversight of funds received by the state from the Obama stimulus package. In fact, our bill is modeled on the very bill passed by Democrats.

The Legislature also passed bills aimed at protecting personal liberties. This included legislation that would prohibit the government from requiring mandatory COVID-19 vaccines or employers requiring it to work. While I encourage everyone to get a vaccine, I do not believe the government should force it upon people against their wishes.

We also passed a bill that would ensure the freedom to worship by prohibiting the government from closing churches.

Finally, we approved a measure that would require Evers to develop a plan for state employees to return to work. Unfortunately, the governor vetoed this common-sense piece of legislation.

I look forward to the upcoming months where the Legislature will work to craft a responsible state budget and receive input from the public. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office with your priorities.

Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, is Assembly speaker pro tempore and represents the 32nd Assembly District.

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