Wisconsin Republicans to Vote on Curbing Newly Elected Democrats' Power

Wisconsin Republicans forge ahead with power-stripping bills

Democrats in Wisconsin girded for a fight and encouraged voters to speak out as Republicans prepared to move ahead quickly this week with a highly unusual and sweeping lame-duck session to pass a series of proposals that would weaken both Democratic Gov. -elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul.

That measure is meant to prevent Evers and the incoming Democratic attorney general, Josh Kaul, from following through on their campaign promise to end Wisconsin's challenge to the federal Affordable Care Act.

The efforts are reminiscent of the lame-duck maneuvers that North Carolina Republicans took in 2016 to strip the incoming Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, of power.

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.

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 measures would weaken the attorney general's office by allowing Republican legislative leaders to intervene in cases and hire their own attorneys.

- Give the Legislature's budget committee, rather than the attorney general, the power to withdraw the state from lawsuits.

That would stop Evers and Kaul from fulfilling their campaign promises to withdraw Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit seeking repeal of the Affordable Care Act. "Some of the stuff we're putting in these bills is good, but some of it I do have concerns with". Evers said he hopes Walker will think about how he would be able to govern under these circumstances. But Fitzgerald said Walker and his chief of staff had been deeply involved in crafting the measures. Holding the presidential primary in March, in between state elections in February and April, would be logistically impossible, 60 of 72 Wisconsin county election officials said in a letter of opposition.

A proposal by Wisconsin Republican lawmakers to move the state's 2020 presidential primary to benefit a conservative Supreme Court justice is likely dead, but the GOP is taking up many other...

The commission unanimously adopted a motion Monday to send written testimony to legislators saying the move would create multiple conflicts, be "extraordinarily difficult" and may not be feasible.

Republicans also want to enact a protection in state law for people with pre-existing conditions but make it more hard for the attorney general to remove Wisconsin from a federal lawsuit seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act.

A Republican-controlled committee voted to approve the bills around midnight Monday, following a nine-hour public hearing where all but one person spoke against the measures.

Protesters have come and gone in the Capitol the past two days as lawmakers rushed to pass the bills.

Stung by their election loss in the governor's race last month, Republicans treated the lame-duck session as a final opportunity to use their political clout to weaken the next governor before time runs out. They did not make the bills public until late on Friday, after scheduling a Monday hearing before the joint finance committee. "Whether everyone here likes it or not, I respect the fact that Tony Evers is the governor and he's going to be starting on January 7", Vos said at a news conference. "So I just think that's something we need to do in the future".

"I view this as a repudiation of the last election", Evers said. If that's the reason, why not take it up before the election - or earlier, when it would have limited Scott Walker's authority?

"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.

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

"Republicans believe that they lost the election because too many people voted here", Scot Ross said.

Republicans have had majorities in the state Senate and Assembly since 2011, and worked with Walker the past eight years to past a host of conservative priorities.

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.

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