Republicans prepare to move ahead with lame-duck session | Lexington Herald Leader

09 December, 2018, 04:19 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Wisconsin Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos addresses the Assembly during a contentious legislative session in Madison Wisconsin

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin and MI are scrambling to pass last-minute legislation to limit the powers of incoming Democratic officials before their iron grip on state governments is loosened following last month's elections.

Republicans worked through the night amid late protests, internal disagreement and Democratic opposition to the measures, which are created to reduce the powers of incoming Democratic governor-elect Tony Evers and Democratic attorney general-elect Josh Kaul.

Republicans explained the moves to limit to the authority of the governor as part of a long-needed change in the balance of power, which they said had become tilted in favour of the executive branch.

"We sued Wisconsin over their ID law in 2016", Elias tweeted. 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.

The bill would limit the governor's ability to put in place administrative rules that enact laws and give the Legislature the power to control appointees to the board that runs the state economic development agency until September 1.

Protesters gathered in front of the Wisconsin state legislature in Madison to reject the Republican proposal to limit the powers of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general.

A spokeswoman for Michigan Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said the latter bill would transfer oversight to a "bipartisan entity, rather than a political officeholder". "To me, it's about the institution", he said, according to the Associated Press.

The state's GOP leadership framed the undertaking as an attempt to safeguard Walker's policy agenda, as well as to check executive authority. The outgoing governor has voiced support for these measures. But Fitzgerald said Walker and his chief of staff had been deeply involved in crafting the measures.

"No one in either party ran on a platform including these structural changes to state government", one woman testified. Democratic turnout is expected to be high, so moving the vote would boost the prospects of Dan Kelly, a conservative state supreme court justice up for election in April.

The state Elections Commission unanimously adopted a motion Monday declaring that the shift would be "extraordinarily difficult" and costly without additional funding. The votes fell largely along party lines; no Democrats supported the measures.

Regarding early voting, the bill trims the state's early voting window to just two weeks statewide.


A news conference where Fitzgerald and other Republican leaders spoke was peppered with catcalls from protesters. Critics argue the proposal to restrict early voting could generate even more costs because the state is sure to face a legal challenge if it passes.

Wisconsin Republicans pushed through protests, internal disagreement and Democratic opposition to pass the bills after an all-night session.

He urged voters to contact their legislators and said lawsuits were also being explored.

Wisconsin Democrats railed against the proposals at Monday's hearing.

"It goes to the heart of what democracy is all about", Evers said at a Sunday news conference held at a Milwaukee law firm. "I think it's the wrong message, I think it is an embarrassment for the state and I think we can stop it".

"Wisconsin has never seen anything like this".

The legislation also would limit in-person early voting to a two-week window.

The state assembly approved the lame-duck legislation Wednesday morning, about 2½ hours after the Wisconsin Senate did the same.

The lame-duck session had several contentious moments, including one in which Republicans who run the state Senate ordered the public gallery cleared, a move that provoked an audible roar from members of the public who'd gathered to watch the proceedings.

"You're here because you don't want to give up power", Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz said as debate concluded in that chamber.

Republican Senate President Roger Roth took the unusual step after warning the crowd twice that Senate rules prohibited them from reacting to debate. They clearly communicated to my office their preference that the separation of powers between branches of government be retained.

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