February 22, 2019

Walker signals support for lame-duck package

05 December 2018, 10:23 | Devin Moran

Tony Evers speaks at an election eve rally in Madison Wisconsin

Tony Evers speaks at an election eve rally in Madison Wisconsin

The GOP proposals would weaken the governor's ability to put in place rules that enact laws and shield the state jobs agency from his control. Other changes include weakening the attorney general's office by allowing Republican legislative leaders to dive into some cases with their own attorneys.

"I'm concerned. I think that Gov. -elect Evers is going to bring a liberal agenda to Wisconsin", he said.

The legislation would also limit early voting to no more than two weeks before an election, a restriction similar to what a federal judge ruled was unconstitutional.

Stinging from their defeat at the polls in November, Republicans are now rushing a set of bills through a special session of the Wisconsin State Assembly nakedly created to curb the power of Democratic Governor-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, and handicap Democrats' competitiveness in upcoming elections.

They also sparked protests at the Capitol reminiscent of the raucous demonstrations that resulted when Walker all-but eliminated collective bargaining for public workers in 2011.

Democrats say the measure provided inadequate coverage and would cause premiums to skyrocket.

Democrats in the state Assembly pumped themselves up for a fight Tuesday morning, telling reporters Republicans were denying the will of the voters.

"It's really an attack on our democratic values and structures", Michigan Democratic Representative Christine Greig, the next minority leader in the state House of Representatives, said. The measure had always been stalled in the Senate due to lack of GOP support.

One Wisconsin Executive Director Scot Ross said Monday the Republican measure shows the GOP "refuse to accept the results of the 2018 elections" after losing six statewide races, including the contest for governor.

Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach calls the lame-duck session a "power grab".

In North Carolina, Republican legislators attempted to curtail gubernatorial powers after Democrat Roy Cooper was elected in 2016.

One provision allowing lawmakers to replace the attorney general with their own attorneys was stricken following all-night negotiations among Republicans. You didn't tell people you would do everything in your power to take away the power of a newly elected governor and attorney general. The Legislature wasn't expected to complete its work until early Wednesday morning. After the 2020 census, Republicans won't have the trifecta control of Wisconsin that they'd need to keep their gerrymander in place - because Tony Evers will still be governor.

Make it harder for Evers to enact administrative rules that implement state laws.

The power to withdraw Wisconsin from a lawsuit challenging the federal health care law would rest with a legislative committee, rather than the attorney general. By early Wednesday, both chambers had also approved a transportation-related proposal, and the state Senate on Tuesday backed a series of appointments made by the outgoing governor weeks before he leaves office. The last lame-duck session in Wisconsin was in 2010 when Democrats tried unsuccessfully to enact labor agreements.

"Much of what we did over the last eight years is work with the Legislature, not at odds with the Legislature", he told reporters Monday after a Menorah lighting ceremony at the governor's mansion.

Under another bill the state legislature passed Wednesday, Kaul and Evers are forbidden from withdrawing the state's participation in any pending lawsuits filed by the state without legislative approval. Perhaps that's why Wisconsin Republicans just moved to stomp out early voting. Drug testing had been a priority of Gov. Scott Walker's as part of his general commitment to making antipoverty programs more of a hassle.

A similar effort is under way in MI, where the Republican-controlled legislature is weighing new laws to hamstring incoming Democrats.

Wisconsin's lame-duck Republican-majority legislature called the rare post-election session this week to pass the proposals before Governor-elect Evers takes office in January and can exercise his veto power. Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz said as the nine-hour debate began Tuesday night.

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