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

New legislation could hamper early voting

New legislation could hamper early voting doorcountydailynews News

"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.

Republicans says the concept is not "unique", pointing to the Federal Election Commission and similar panels in other states.

The bills on Walker's desk would weaken the state's executive branch at precisely the time Democrats are set to reclaim it after almost a decade on the outs. But since he lost his re-election bid to Democrat Tony Evers, Republicans have pushed the last-minute effort to shift some of that executive branch power to the Legislature. He says a handful of people desperately want to "cling to power".

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has steadily amassed power during his eight-year tenure.

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The vote came after the state House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill that would allow lawmakers to sidestep the attorney general in litigation involving the state. The State Assembly also approved the bill along party lines later on Wednesday. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has not taken a position on the measure or others that could win final legislative approval as soon as next week. Rather than respect the decisions of voters, these "lame duck" Republicans (the term for officials who have been voted out of office but still have time to serve before their replacements are sworn in) are using their last few weeks in office to make it harder for Democrats to enact change. That takes away the ability of the state's attorney general to defend Wisconsin during legal challenges. And they would limit early voting to no more than two weeks before an election, a restriction similar to what a federal judge ruled was unconstitutional.

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

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. The Assembly approved it on a 56-27 vote about two hours later, sending it on to Walker, with one Republican, Rep. Todd Novak, defecting. Republicans have rushed to pass that bill before January, when they will lose the legislative supermajority allowing them to overturn Democratic Governor Roy Cooper's veto.

Robin Vos, the apeaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly, told reporters the day after the election that the plan is meant to "re-balance" power following the Walker administration.

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The new legislation tries to protect some of the GOP's achievements in recent years, including a work requirement for some people receiving state health care and the state's role in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

One provision allowing lawmakers to replace the attorney general with their own attorneys was stricken following all-night negotiations among Republicans. 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.

Lawmakers were expected to vote early Wednesday morning on the proposal, after spending most of the night hammering out deals in private.

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