Wisconsin Lawmakers Vote To Limit Powers Of New Democratic Governor

Expand           Claire VanValkenburg

The votes on the bills to reign in Evers and Kaul's powers were scheduled to take place on Tuesday, but the GOP worked well into Wednesday morning, mostly in closed door caucus sessions, to work out differences among themselves-the only ones, in their view, whose opinion mattered.

Democrats expressed outrage that Republican leaders would seek to push through changes weakening Evers and Kaul right after voters picked the Democrats to lead state government.

"The will of the people has officially been ignored by the legislature", Evers said Wednesday afternoon. That would stop Evers and Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul from fulfilling promises to withdraw Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit seeking repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The legislation prevents Evers from putting in place any rules that enact laws and prohibits him from controlling the state jobs agency until September.

"The seeds you're planting may grow into something you will regret", said Sen.

"Republicans are very sore losers", said Senator Fred Risser, a Democrat.

Other measures would weaken the attorney general's office by allowing Republican legislative leaders to intervene in cases and hire their own attorneys. His defeat in 2018 in a quest for a third term (and in his fourth race in eight years) was a massive victory for national Democrats who had grown to loathe the Wisconsin governor not the least of which for his seeming invincibility to their electoral challenges.

Protecting the state's voter ID law from any future changes by Evers.

Wisconsin's GOP Senate Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, seemed ill-prepared for the wave of condemnation directed at his caucus, saying that he was "a little surprised" by the reaction and calling the demonstrations "over the top".

"What we've seen in Wisconsin in the last number of weeks is completely different from anything we have seen in my experience", Doyle said at a news conference.

Defending the rushed process and content of the bill package, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said that Democrats unfairly "whipped up people" and that he was sickened that they "so grossly" exaggerated its goal, according to the New York Times. In a statement released after the vote, Evers said he hopes Republicans will be more collaborative after he takes office. Republicans say they're trying to protect the laws they've enacted in their eight years of control.

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"The Republican strategy has been secrecy and speed", said Ben Wikler, the Washington director of MoveOn.org, at the Monday night rally. Taylor and other Democrats argued the bills are an abuse of power by the legislature's Republican majority.

Among the more controversial parts of the plan are provisions that would limit early voting - which has helped Democrats - restrict Evers' ability to make appointments and move the Wisconsin 2020 presidential primary to March, a shift that by lessening the turnout for the April 2020 state Supreme Court election would likely boost the chances of conservative judges.

State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told conservative talk radio station WISN's "Jay Weber Show" on Monday that the agenda for the lame duck session is created to corral Evers before he takes office. Jon Erpenbach said during Senate debate.

The lame-duck maneuvering in Wisconsin is similar to what Republicans did in North Carolina two years ago and is being discussed in MI before a Democratic governor takes over there.

The last lame-duck session in Wisconsin was in 2010, when Democrats tried unsuccessfully to enact labor agreements. What was happening, the speaker said, was "not just an effort to suppress votes but an attempt to negate an election".

The GOP-led moves drew rebukes from prominent Democrats on Monday, including Steyer and Sanders, both of whom are mulling White House runs in 2020.

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

"We are more than like quadrupling the amount of lawyers that are going around this building".

WHITE: Court challenges against power limits like these aren't unprecedented.

Evers has vowed to take "any steps possible", including legal action, to prevent the plan to dilute his powers. When he does, he'll face GOP majorities in the state Assembly and Senate. Walker wields his veto. For NPR News, I'm Laurel White in Madison.

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