Wisconsin voters elected Democrats to the state-wide offices of Governor and Attorney General.  As we are so often reminded by the Republicans, elections have consequences. There is supposed to be a balance of power between the Governor's office and the legislature. Yet the still-GOP-controlled legislature is holding a lame-duck session starting tomorrow with the sole purpose of clawing back power from the Governor's and Attorney General's offices and moving it to the legislature. 

Robin Vos has said that they are taking back the excessive power they gave to Scott Walker - you certainly could argue that the legislature gave the governor too much power in the last eight years, but trying to take that power back smacks of believing that power should only be wielded by Republican governors. The bills were released under the radar late on Friday, probably in hopes that they could get these bills passed quickly before anyone would notice.

This is a behavior we see all too often from GOP legislators in this state. They act with the belief that they will always control all three branches, and if that changes they try to retain control via legislation. The legislation before us (which will have a quicky hearing tomorrow and will possibly pass on Tuesday) is appalling:

  • Move the upcoming 2020 presidential primary from April to March - apparently with the sole purpose of having fewer voters in the upcoming State Supreme Court election, giving their conservative candidate a better chance. This is yet another attempt to win elections by suppressing the vote. Clerks across the state have called this an unworkable plan because it creates three state-wide elections in a very short time-frame. There will certainly be litigation on this and some of the other laws, but I am sure that will not stop them from voting yes.
  • Another voter suppression tactic comes up in the attempt to shorten the period for in-person early voting. The early-voting ballots favored the Democratic candidates in the last election.  Obviously this causes a need to lower the number of early voters.  The Republicans are justifying this as "regularising" the rules across the state. There's no reason they could not make the voting period the same across the state and make it longer rather than shorter. "Predictability" is always a watchword of the GOP, but somehow the laws always become predictably worse rather than better. A similar bill was passed previously and was rejected by the courts. Expect the same this time around.
  • The legislator is allowed to replace the Attorney General when legal challenges are mounted to intervene in court cases.  This makes a mockery of the independence of the Attorney General's office.
  • Currently the governor can withdraw the state from federal lawsuits. Under the new law, the legislature's budget committee. This is a blatant attempt to make it impossible for the new governor to withdraw the state from the lawsuit to end the Affordable Care Act.
  • The laws ensure that the legislature will control the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Look for more Foxconn-like deals no matter what the new governor thinks.
  • Makes it impossible for the governor to ban guns in the Capitol building.

The original justification for this extraordinary session was to consider passing subsidies for Kimberly-Clark to keep them from closing Wisconsin factories. As it turns out the Republicans do not have the votes to pass that - but they seem convinced they do have the votes for these bills. This is a big, ill-considered, hastily-assembled pile of legislation. Just reading all of it before the vote will be a burden for legislators. You might want to consider very quickly contacting your state legislators and stopping this insanity. If you are able, you might also attend the hearings tomorrow (12:30 PM room 412 East in the Capitol) and speak against these bills (which are attached below.)

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Steve Hanson

Steve is a web designer and recently retired from running the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. Cruiskeen Consulting LLC is the parent company of Wis.Community, and publication of this site continues after his retirement.

Steve is a member of LION Publishers and the Local Media Consortium, is active in Health Dunn Right, and is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of the greater Chippewa Valley



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