(EDITOR’S NOTE, 12/4/18, 5:23 PM ET: The headline of this article has been changed from “Wisconsin Republicans Neuter Incoming Democratic Administration in Lame Duck Session” to “Wisconsin Republicans Could Neuter Incoming Democratic Administration in Lame Duck Session,” in order to reflect that the bills have not yet been signed into law.)
Wisconsin Republicans, along with Governor Scott Walker (R) are so far succeeding in their attempt to weaken the incoming Democratic administration.
Gov. Walker lost his bid for re-election to Governor-Elect Tony Evers (D) last month, and since then, he and the Republican-controlled legislature have successfully used the lame-duck session in the Wisconsin state legislature to advance numerous changes aimed at entrenching their power despite the will of the Badger State’s voters.
In addition to transferring powers that typically belong to the governor and the attorney general (both of whom are now Democrats) to the legislature, the bills heard in committee Monday would change the 2020 presidential primary date in order to benefit a conservative Supreme Court justice up for re-election that day (as a means of potentially lowering turnout) among other partisan moves to attempt to undercut the powers of the Democrats taking office in January.
This instance of using a lame-duck session to attempt to impede an incoming administration has already happened in North Carolina, after Governor Roy Cooper (D) won last year’s election against Pat McCrory. An attempt is also being made to do the same thing in Michigan. In both instances, a Republican lost their seat to a Democrat.
Some of the elements of the bills Wisconsin Republicans passed Monday include taking measures that would weaken Governor-elect Tony Evers’ ability to enact state laws, and would transfer the governor’s authority over Wisconsin’s jobs agency over to the legislature. Wisconsin Republicans also passed legislation to take away the attorney general’s ability to try certain cases on behalf of the state, instead allowing state lawmakers to hire their own private attorneys (presumably from Republican-leaning law firms).
Additionally, a legislative committee — rather than the attorney general — would have the authority to sign off on withdrawing from federal lawsuits. That would stop Governor-elect Evers and incoming Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul from fulfilling a key campaign promise to withdraw from a multi-state lawsuit seeking repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) told reporters he feels that none of the bills are that big of a deal.
“I don’t think it’s outrageous at all.” Fitzgerald said. “I think that Governor-elect Evers is going to bring a liberal agenda to Wisconsin.” Fitzgerald quipped.
A news conference where Fitzgerald and other Republican leaders spoke was frequently interrupted by protesters opposed to the attempt to cut off the new administration at the knees.
Brandon Howard is a Grit Post contributor, auto worker, and former public radio reporter based out of Lexington, Kentucky. Follow him on Twitter @mrpowerhoward.