Wisconsin Republicans Stripping Governor’s Power Before Democratic Leader Takes Office
As part of the “blue wave” of election victories that happened last month, Wisconsin voters decided to take a new direction, ousting Republican Gov. Scott Walker in favor of putting in current State Superintendent of Public Schools Tony Evers, a Democrat.
But with time running out before Walker has to vacate office, Republicans have one more dubious trick up their sleeves: removing the powers of the state’s highest office before the new Democratic governor takes over, by calling for a lame-duck special session this week.
It’s a brazen and pretty overt move on the part of the state’s GOP-controlled legislature. And with Walker still in office until January, the special session Republicans are calling for will likely be successful.
Evers has called out the move as vindictive and disrespecting the electorate’s wishes.
“I view this as a repudiation of the last election,” Evers said, per reporting from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I will take any steps possible to assure the people of Wisconsin that I will not invalidate those votes. And frankly, I’m encouraging citizens across the state of Wisconsin to help me in that effort.”
Evers added that GOP lawmakers in the legislature were acting out of accordance with what voters said they wanted — a split and cooperative government, with Democrats running the executive branch and Republicans in control of the legislature in the next session as well.
“The last election changed the state in a way that apparently the Legislature has decided to not accept,” Evers said. “They are putting their interests in front of the people of the state of Wisconsin.”
So, what are Republicans trying to do in Wisconsin? It's a staggering list. First, they want to suppress votes. They'd block the new governor from changing WI's harsh voter ID law, & restrict early voting two weeks—slashing from 6 weeks in some places. https://t.co/hGxDfDcPYV
— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) December 1, 2018
Republicans are promoting a series of bills in a special session of the legislature that wouldn’t ordinarily convene during this time in the year. Those bills will do a number of things, Mother Jones reported.
One of the bills being proposed would limit early voting in the state, reducing it to just two weeks before election day. That proposal would likely be challenged in the courts, as a similar law was struck down as unconstitutional previously in the state.
Other bills may pass constitutional muster, however, although their implementation is a clear attempt to restrict the governor from having the same executive powers that Republicans were fine with Walker using previously.
One bill, for example, would take away powers from the governor and the attorney general (who is also set to be a Democrat come next January, as Josh Kaul also defeated his Republican incumbent opponent), including the right to determine whether the state should involve itself in lawsuits against federal laws. Republicans want that ability to be given to the legislature instead, which would allow them to hire new attorneys to continue a suit against the federal government that’s challenging the legality of the Affordable Care Act.
Withdrawing from that lawsuit and strengthening the ACA in Wisconsin was a key part of the election, which helped propel Evers to victory against Walker.
Another bill would make it so that a third, unnecessary election would be created in 2020, between the spring primary election in February and the general election in April, to ensure that a state Supreme Court judge’s election has its own race in March. Doing so is an overt attempt to keep voters from going to the polls en masse, as they would be participating in a presidential primary race during the April date as well.
Wisconsinites opposed to these measures are planning to do so in person at the state capitol this week. A listening session is scheduled at 12:30 p.m. on Monday in the capitol’s 412 East room. A protest against the legislative session is also planned for 5:30 p.m. that same day, on the State Street side of the exterior of the capitol building, according to reporting from Madison365.
“What we want to do is to show the legislators that there is a public uproar about what they are doing. They are really subverting the votes from last month’s election,” Indivisible Madison organizer Linda Kessel said about the protest.