After Democrats won every statewide office on the ballot last month, Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan are overriding the will of the voters and working to reduce the power of the incoming administrations simply because they aren’t happy with the results of the election.
Wisconsin Senate GOP Leader Scott Fitzgerald summed up the GOP’s power grab motives before the lame duck session saying Republicans “don’t trust Tony Evers right now.”
Wisconsin Senate GOP Leader Scott Fitzgerald: “I mean, most of these items are things (that) we never really had to kind of address because guess what — we trusted Scott Walker and the administration to be able to manage the back and forth with the Legislature. We don’t trust Tony Evers right now in a lot of these areas.”
Following an all-night, behind-the-scenes session, Wisconsin Republicans passed a wide-ranging package that diminishes the power of Governor-elect Tony Evers.
The New York Times: “The legislation was aimed at undermining Democrats. There would be a new limit on early voting, which tends to benefit Democratic candidates, after an election that saw record-breaking turnout. Lawmakers, not the governor, would control the majority of appointments on an economic development board. The legislation would also prevent Mr. Evers from banning guns in the Wisconsin Capitol without permission from legislators.”
The Wisconsin GOP bill to bypass Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul limits the office’s authority over litigation, ensuring Wisconsin continues to back an unpopular lawsuit to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
The New York Times: “The attorney general could no longer appoint a solicitor general to represent the state in major lawsuits, and would be restricted in how he spent settlement money, which lawmakers would now oversee.”
Wisconsin election officials say that limiting early voting to 14 days will disenfranchise voters and create confusion.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “‘This will create an unnecessary hardship for a lot of voters. And I don’t think creating unnecessary hardship is consistent with democracy,’ said Neil Albrecht, executive director of the Election Commission for the City of Milwaukee, where almost 10 percent of voters cast in-person absentee ballots in November’s midterm elections.”
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “But, much like voter ID laws and other restrictions, it is widely seen by critics as a move to curtail voting, especially in large, urban areas that tend to vote Democratic. Many point to the latest governor’s race, which was decided by 30,000 votes.”
In Michigan, Republicans are working to slash voter-backed proposals to raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour and require employers to provide sick time for employees.
The Detroit News: “The Michigan Legislature has never attempted to adopt and amend a citizen initiative in the same session. But Republican legislators are attempting to do so in the lame-duck session after adopting paid sick leave and minimum wage initiatives in September. Keeping them off the ballot made them easier to change, requiring a simple majority instead of a three-quarters vote in both chambers.”
Michigan Republicans are also working to limit Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel’s role and advance a proposal to strip campaign finance oversight from Secretary of State-elect Jocelyn Benson’s office.
NPR: “Well, one of the bills that they are upset about would let the state House and Senate intervene in state legal proceedings. That’s something traditionally left to the governor or attorney general. The bill is sponsored by Michigan State Representative Robert VerHeulen.”
The Detroit News: “Benson will be the state’s first Democratic secretary of state since 1994, but Robertson’s proposal would strip her office of a key responsibility by creating a new commission to oversee campaign finance laws.”