How GOP Bills Would Limit Gov.-Elect Tony Evers' Power


Democrats have pushed back, claiming that the secretary of state's office - held by Republicans since 1995 - generally conducts its business in a non-partisan manner anyway and that the move dilutes the authority of incoming Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. Walker has 10 days from when the bills arrived on his desk to make a decision on what to do with them.

Among the bills that have advanced so far during the lame-duck session are ones which create a campaign finance commission, give the legislature the ability to intervene in lawsuits, and rollback a previously-approved increase in the minimum wage and paid-sick-leave mandate.

Republicans in MI are considering a similar tactic to push legislation that would allow the state legislature to intervene in legal battles before the Democratic governor, attorney general, and secretary of state take office in January.

Republicans who control the Wisconsin Assembly have passed a lame-duck bill enacting a Medicaid work requirement.

The bills now go to outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has signaled his support. Do we think that has something to do with Wisconsin's participation in a multi-state lawsuit from Republicans attempting to invalidate the Affordable Care Act?

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. Eric Doster, a former long-time lawyer for the state GOP, testified that the commission would operate similarly to those in other states and said "now the time is right".

Neither plan has been signed into law yet, and Democrats in both states say they are likely to mount legal challenges to what they have decried as GOP power grabs.

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The former measure is seen as a maneuver to ensure that Republicans could support laws if Democratic Gov. -elect Gretchen Whitmer and Democratic Attorney General-elect Nessel are lukewarm about GOP-passed measures and drop appeals in cases the state loses. Democrats would likely need a permanent injunction to stop the changes for good, but Republicans would nearly certainly pursue appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, which is controlled by conservative justices. Republicans argue that the new body, which would be made up of three Democratic and three Republican legislators appointed by the governor, would promote bipartisan cooperation.

"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.

"We're seeing more and more public policy issues being addressed in the courts, rather than exclusively in the legislative branch", he said.

The legislature says the bills were necessary to balance power between the executive and legislative branch.

"The Legislature makes the laws, the executive branch enforces the laws and the judicial branch interprets the laws", said Rep. Robert Wittenberg of Huntington Woods.

"The will of the people has officially been ignored by the Legislature", Evers said at a press conference, "Wisconsin should be embarrassed by this", Evers said.

Democrats can't help but wonder if Republicans would be trying to push the bills through had their party won those races last month and they're voicing their concern.