Wisconsin Lawmakers Vote To Limit Powers Of New Democratic Governor

Sunday, 09 Dec, 2018

Democrats have criticized it as a last-minute power grab that undercuts the November 6 elections, when Democrats broke years of total Republican control of state government in Wisconsin.

The public erupted into shouts of "Shame!" and "Whose house?"

The protests were reminiscent of a scene in 2011, just after Walker took office, when he pushed a bill to reduce the power of public-sector unions. Amid threats of lawsuits from Democrats, the GOP vowed that their changes would be upheld in court. When Walker appeared Tuesday at a holiday tree-lighting ceremony, he was greeted by protesters, one of whom held a sign saying "All I want for Christmas is democracy".

Republicans in MI are also using a lame-duck session to rewrite the rules for incoming Democratic leaders.

In an exchange with reporters at the governor's mansion Monday night, Walker described the measures to strip powers from the new administration as simply business as usual.

Democrats expressed outrage that Republican leaders would seek to push through changes weakening Evers and Kaul right after voters picked the Democrats to lead state government. And it would limit early voting to no more than two weeks before an election, a restriction similar to what a federal judge ruled was unconstitutional. The Senate is also slated to confirm about 75 Walker appointees, including two new members of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents. He asked Walker to withdraw the names to allow ample time for review. A spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a question about how quickly he would act.

Republicans defend the measures as a way to balance power among branches of government and say they've been considering the changes for some time. "Don't let our democracy be stolen", Holder tweeted.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Save our vote.

The legislative package that Republicans are seeking to shepherd to Walker's desk includes measures unlikely to attain the signature of a Democratic governor, such as limits to early voting and a prohibition on the state's withdrawal from a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act.

Democrats won the governor, attorney general and secretary of state's offices last month.

The proposal up for a vote would weaken the governor's power to put in place administrative rules enacting state laws.

Meetings and negotiations among lawmakers during the day and into the night Tuesday played a large role in the proceedings flowing into Wednesday morning. He says the session is "illegitimate" and there will be no rules.

Democrats have derided the lame-duck lawmaking as a cynical attempt to preserve power after Walker's re-election loss last month.

"Rather than accept the will of the people, Republican legislators have vindictively jammed through a sweeping set of bills created to undermine the power and authority of our incoming, democratically-elected leaders".

The bill would limit the governor's ability to put in place administrative rules that enact laws and give the Legislature the power to control appointees to the board that runs the state economic development agency until September 1.

Despite the victories by Evers, Kaul and other Democrats, the party gained no ground in the Legislature and blamed partisan gerrymandering by Republicans for stacking the electoral map against them.

The other five served under former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.

The measure would prevent incoming Democratic Gov. -elect Tony Evers from withdrawing a federal waiver request to implement the work requirement for able-bodied adults younger than 50.

In the early morning hours of a lame-duck session Wednesday, state lawmakers approved legislation that would prevent Governor-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul from carrying out their campaign promises to protect and expand food, medical and unemployment assistance for low-income Wisconsinites. The new legislation will rescind much of that power from his Democratic successor.

In Michigan, proposed legislation would allow lawmakers to intervene in legal cases. "What's going on in Wisconsin today shouldn't be dismissed as just one state's experience".

Require all settlement money the attorney general wins to go to the state's general fund rather than the state Justice Department.

"Wisconsin should be embarrassed by this", Evers said.

At the center of Republicans' proposals is their attempt to move the state's presidential primary in 2020, which would cost an estimated $7 million, according to the Associated Press.