Session Is "An Embarrassment" To Wisconsin

Frederick Owens
December 5, 2018

"Just because Republicans in Wisconsin and MI don't like the outcome of the election does not give them (the) right to put power over people and disregard the will of the voters", Post said.

The Wisconsin maneuvering is similar to what Republicans did in North Carolina two years ago and to what is being discussed in MI before a Democratic governor takes over there. Doing so could suppress certain voting populations including students and people of color, opponents have said.

The Wisconsin GOP package would also weaken the attorney general's office by allowing Republican legislative leaders to intervene in cases and hire their own attorneys. ABC News notes that it also weakens Kaul's position by requiring a legislative committee to sign off on withdrawing from federal lawsuits.

The new rules block the governor and attorney general from fulfilling one of their signature campaign promises: to withdraw Wisconsin from the multistate lawsuit to torpedo the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for people with preexisting conditions. State Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling accused the GOP majority of "handcuffing the incoming administration". Assembly Republicans said they would vote in their chamber by midnight.

At a stop in Wausau, Evers said Monday he would consider litigation should any of the measures become law. However, they dropped plans to move the 2020 presidential primary.

Walker has signaled he would likely sign the measures into law.

- Require the governor to get permission from the Legislature before asking for changes in programs run jointly by the state and federal governments, limiting the governor's authority to run public benefits programs. Put simply: the Republicans are sore losers.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission is warning state lawmakers that moving the state's 2020 presidential primary would be "extraordinarily hard". Commissioner Mark Thomsen, a Democratic appointee, called the plan "the biggest waste of money for a single person that I can think of" during discussion preceding the vote.

It 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.

The Legislature passed another measure to enact Medicaid work requirement rules Walker recently won a federal waiver to establish. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos delayed a planned news conference but had no comment on any potential roadblocks.

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Both the state Assembly and the Senate approved the measures, which will protect the GOP's priorities while making it more hard for Evers to enact his. That would make the bills available for both the Senate and Assembly to vote on Tuesday.

Critics said the bills were part of a concerted effort by Republicans in several states, where they control the legislature but have lost executive offices, to deny power to incoming Democrats.

He vowed to fight it, saying lawsuits were being explored, and called on the people of Wisconsin to contact their legislators even as the bills were speeding through.

"This legislation will work to nullify a lot of what this last election was about", Evers said Sunday. Democrats blamed partisan gerrymandering by Republicans for stacking the electoral map against them. 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 lame-duck shenanigans in Wisconsin followed an effort by Michigan Republicans to undercut ballot initiatives that would have raised the minimum wage and granted workers paid sick leave.

Republican state Rep. John Nygren fired back that it was "not true" that the hearing was unprecedented or represented an attack on democracy, prompting boos from members of the crowd.

Democrat Tony Evers defeated incumbent governor Scott Walker in the November midterm elections - a stinging loss for the GOP in one of the key swing states that handed the presidency to Donald Trump.

A spokeswoman for Michigan Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said the latter bill would transfer oversight to a "bipartisan entity, rather than a political officeholder".

Erpenbach said expected legal challenges to what is passed could "grind things to a halt" in the Legislature for as much as a year.

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