Scott Walker signs Wisconsin GOP’s power grab into law

Walker denied that the legislation was a power grab by Republicans in the state.

Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed into law a package of bills aimed at undermining his successor Friday. (PHOTO CREDIT: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed into law a package of bills aimed at undermining his successor Friday. (PHOTO CREDIT: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed into law a suite of bills Friday aimed at weakening his incoming successor, Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers (D).

“There’s a lot of hype and hysteria, particularly in the national media, implying this is a power shift,” Walker, who has less than a month left in office, said Friday before signing the legislation. “It’s not.”

In an effort to secure Republican appointments, the package gives the legislature control of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. board and requires Evers to get permission from the legislature to ban guns in the state Capitol. Additionally, in an effort to suppress Democratic turnout, it limits early voting to two weeks. Early voting had been as long as seven weeks in Milwaukee and Madison, two largely Democratic cities in the state.

It is likely to face legal challenges.

“We do not believe that any one individual should be able to come in and with the stroke of a pen eliminate things that went through the legislative process as a result of listening to the people of Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) said last week. “We are going to make sure that the powers of each branch are as equal as they can be.”


The state legislature passed the package last week. They also voted on a measure that would protect people with pre-existing conditions, a promise Walker made central to his failed re-election bid. It did not pass. Republicans said they opposed the bill for being too similar to the Affordable Care Act, while Democratic senators voted against the bill because it included lifetime caps on coverage.

Evers has called the legislation “embarrassing,” and “a hot mess.”

“Today, Governor Walker chose to ignore and override the will of the people of Wisconsin. This will no doubt be his legacy,” Evers said in a statement Friday. “…The people of Wisconsin expect more from our government than what has happened in our state the last few weeks.”


He was quick to fundraise off the law, as well, sending out an email to supporters, asking them to “donate $10 or more to help Tony fight back.”

A similar attempt at undermining newly elected Democrats is currently underway in Michigan, where the Republican state legislature is trying to water down the authority of Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer (D), the state attorney general-elect, and the secretary of state-elect on campaign finance and other legal issues. As The Detroit Free Press and The Washington Post both noted, all three of the newly elected state officials are women.

The attempts to undermine the authority of these newly elected Democrats have drawn numerous comparisons to moves by the North Carolina state legislature two years ago, when Republicans used a lame duck session to strip then Gov.-elect Roy Cooper’s (D) power over cabinet appointments, gave the GOP power over the state board of elections, and worked to make the state’s judicial system more partisan.

Cooper has been caught in ongoing legal fights over the legislation for nearly two years.