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Wisconsin Republicans have a multifaceted approach to undermine the new Democratic administration, and they’re doing their best to make sure the public has minimal input.

Activist group Indivisible Wisconsin tweeted the schedule for the public hearing on the bills in question on Monday. The schedule confirmed that the public portion of the hearing for legislation — that would, among other things, weaken the powers of Governor-elect Tony Evers (D) and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul (D) — is only 60 seconds long. Following the minute-long public hearing, the committee hearing the bills will go into executive session, meaning the public and the media are not allowed inside.

MoveOn Washington director Ben Wikler called attention to Wisconsin Republicans’ lame duck agenda in a lengthy Twitter thread last weekend. He pointed out that since the voting public ousted Republicans in every statewide race in the November 6 election (including two-term Governor Scott Walker), they’ve developed a package of bills that would not only render the new administration impotent, but severely limit early voting from six weeks to two weeks and change the date of the April 7, 2019 primary election to decrease turnout for a Supreme Court seat that could flip control from conservatives to liberals.

One promise Attorney General-elect Kaul made on the campaign trail was to withdraw from a Republican-led multi-state lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. Current law stipulates that the governor has discretion over whether or not Wisconsin’s attorney general can withdraw from a lawsuit, and it’s assumed that Governor-elect Evers would allow Kaul to withdraw.

But under one of the bills being considered, that authority would instead be transferred to the legislature, which is still under Republican control following the election — arguably thanks to gerrymandering. The GOP-controlled legislature also wants to pass bills that would transfer numerous powers currently held by the attorney general to state lawmakers. Wikler tweeted that some of those powers that could be transferred to Republican legislators include the power to decide how settlement dollars are spent and the power to sign off on court settlements.

The attempted power-grab by Wisconsin Republicans is not unlike what North Carolina Republicans attempted after Governor Roy Cooper (D) defeated Pat McCrory in the Tar Heel State’s 2017 gubernatorial election. Following Cooper’s victory, North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature put several constitutional amendments on the November 2018 ballot aimed at entrenching their power.

Amendments limiting Cooper’s power over to appoint members of the state elections board, as well as to transfer power over judicial vacancies to the legislature, were defeated, according to the Raleigh News and Observer. However, other amendments proposed by GOP lawmakers passed, like one that permanently requires voters to present photo identification at the polls in order to vote, passed.

Wisconsin-based activist group One Wisconsin Now has indicated that it would take to the courts to fight the lame duck legislature’s bills if they passed.

 

\Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.

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