Lawmakers in Wisconsin approved legislation early Wednesday morning that will undermine the authority of Gov.-elect Tony Evers (D) and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul (D), moves that have sparked uproar among many liberal activists.
Outgoing Gov. Scott Walker (R) has signaled that he expects to sign the bill into law, which would give the Legislature control of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. board, make it easier for legislators to hire private attorneys, limit early voting to two weeks, and require Evers to get permission from the legislature to ban guns in the state Capitol, among other measures.
Republicans 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. According to The Journal Sentinel, all Democrats and two Republicans in the state Senate voted against the legislation aimed at protecting coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
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.
Changes to the legislation were made in the middle of the night. At 4:00 a.m. local time, a new, 56-page version of the legislation was released. “Not a way to run a government!” Democratic state Sen. Dave Hansen reportedly said at the time.
This is Wisconsin Republicans' official explanation for the anti-democratic plan they're trying to pass today to strip powers from the newly elected Democratic governor and attorney general. pic.twitter.com/m05Vj5gAY4
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) December 4, 2018
“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,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) said Tuesday.
In an interview with CNN Tuesday night, Evers called the legislation “embarrassing.”
Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers calls the Republicans' attempt to strip the incoming leaders of key powers "embarrassing," adding that "this is bad public policy and it's telling the people of Wisconsin that their vote doesn't count." https://t.co/aHTw6mnHdI pic.twitter.com/sgELVGe7ys
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) December 5, 2018
“The entire thing is frankly a hot mess,” Evers said. “We won fair and square.”
There are similar attempts to undermine newly elected Democrats underway in Michigan, where the Republican state legislature aims 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 has 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.