Session Is "An Embarrassment" To Wisconsin

Wisconsin protesters drown out Christmas tree-lighting ceremony challenging lame-duck session

Following the defeat of Gov. Scott Walker, Republican lawmakers put forward several proposals including one that would shorten the time frame of Wisconsin's early voting.

Democrats have decried the bills as defying the voters' will.

"They've got this pretty sweeping measure that would. restrict early voting and do a number of things that have got opponents up in arms".

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin were preparing on Tuesday to vote on a raft of bills that would weaken the powers of the state governor and attorney general, weeks before newly elected Democrats take those posts. The move is sparking protests.

Democrats say the measure provided inadequate coverage and would cause premiums to skyrocket.

Wisconsin Republicans planned to forge ahead Monday with a rare lame-duck session to give outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker a chance to limit the powers of his incoming Democratic successor, move the 2020 presidential primary date to benefit a conservative state Supreme Court justice and enact a host of other changes nearly certain to spur legal challenges. The testimony goes on to state the commission is concerned about costs and complains that the legislation provides no additional funding. The measure had always been stalled in the Senate due to lack of GOP support.

Just after midnight, Republicans succeeded in approving, through party-line votes, a plan to lock in place a work requirement for Medicaid and food stamps, which would force tens of thousands of indigent yet able-bodied and childless adults under the age of 50 to work to qualify for these public benefits. The Assembly was expected to give final approval later Wednesday morning and send the measure to Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has signaled his support.

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. Former Democratic attorney general and Gov. Jim Doyle said the moves were unconstitutional. An amendment to do away with that provision was part of a Republican rewrite of the bill, made public around 4:30 a.m. after all-night negotiations.

"Wisconsin has never seen anything like this". "I think that governor-elect Evers is going to bring a liberal agenda to Wisconsin".

Wisconsin protesters drown out Christmas tree-lighting ceremony challenging lame-duck session
'Democracy Dies...in the Early Morning Light' as Wisconsin GOP Rams Through 'Lame Duck Legislative Coup'

The proposal up for a vote would weaken the governor's power to put in place administrative rules enacting state laws.

The Wisconsin GOP package would also weaken the attorney general's office by allowing Republican legislative leaders to intervene in cases and hire their own attorneys.

Evers, who beat Walker by just over 1%, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he would take "any steps possible" to stop the legislature, including lawsuits.

The power to withdraw Wisconsin from a lawsuit challenging the federal health care law would rest with a legislative committee, rather than the attorney general.

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz told reporters before lawmakers took the floor that the legislation is a power-grab that ignores the will of voters who elected Evers and Kaul. The Senate passed the proposal earlier in the evening.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, left, with the help of the Mary and Don Miller family from Plainfield, Wis., flipped the switch to light the state Christmas Tree in the Capitol Rotunda in Madison.

But faced with a Democratic governor for the first time in eight years, legislative Republicans came up with a package of lame-duck bills to protect their priorities and make it harder for Evers to enact his.

Republicans defended their actions as meant to codify into law a more active role for the state's GOP-led legislature and creating a more balanced power dynamic with the governor's office.

Republicans pushed on Tuesday night into Wednesday through protests, internal disagreement and Democratic opposition. As Evers notes, both he and incoming AG Josh Kaul ran on a platform of activism, so the impulse behind this effort may well be understandable. Ross says Republicans believe they lost last month "because too many people voted".

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