Assembly passes bills to ban transgender athletes from sports teams, prohibit vaccine mandates
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Republican proposals that would allow students to only join sports teams that correlate with their biological sex and prohibit businesses from showing proof of a COVID-19 vaccine passed the Assembly Wednesday.
Both proposals follow national trends as state legislatures and governors are approving similar measures.
Banning transgender athletes from participating in women's sports teams at K-12 schools and college campuses was the center of the floor debate.
Republicans say the bill is needed to create a fair playing field citing female athletes are losing prize money, scholarships and other awards to biological males.
"Women have a right to competitive sports so they have a decent shot to win, as opposed to being uncompetitive because a biological man who made a decision to compete in women's sports," said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester).
Democrats denounced the bill, calling it harmful and discriminatory because it would hinder progress made for the transgender community in providing more opportunities.
"This targets vulnerable children," said Rep. Greta Neubauer (D-Racine). "It's alarming how damaging, discriminatory this bill is and how it reinforces false narratives that makes it harder in a number of ways for trans youth."
The proposal is bound for Gov. Tony Evers' veto pen who said, "it seeks a problem that doesn't exist," when weighing in on the legislation.
There’s already a policy in Wisconsin schools that restricts transgender girls from playing on sports teams unless they’ve had one year of testosterone suppression therapy. The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA), who’s enforced the policy for eight years, also requires parental consent and a doctor's note before competing.
State Rep. Barb Dittrich (R- Oconomowoc), who introduced the bill, argues the policy doesn't go far enough.
"There are male athletes that have undergone hormone treatment and studies show they still have a 10% advantage over biological women," said Dittrich.
Prohibiting Proof of a Vaccine
Republicans also approved a bill to prevent businesses, employers, schools and basically anyone from requiring proof of a vaccine.
Republicans who introduced the proposals say it’s not about casting doubts on vaccines, instead they want to protect individual rights.
"This is a personal health record, and it's unfortunate what's come out of the pandemic is that we've normalized asking individuals their own personal health information," said Rep. Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva).
Right now, employers can still require their employees to get vaccines with an exemption for medical and religious reasons.
The concept of showing proof of a vaccine is a way some businesses, concert venues and sporting events are exploring as a way to show a certificate that confirms you no longer pose a risk to others.
Democrats say the bills are unnecessary because there are no efforts in the state to implement a vaccine passport. Gov. Tony Evers has also indicated he doesn’t have plans to mandate Wisconsinites to get the shot.
Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) called the controversial bills a waste of time as they are doomed for Evers' veto pen.
"These are sensational hot button issues that keep coming up, that are part of the national playbook for Republicans," said Hintz. "Republicans continue to pack the agenda with issues that press buttons, clearly on bills the governor is going to veto that get attention, that motivate the base."