Wisconsin voters elected Tony Evers, a Democrat, as their next Governor, and Josh Kaul, also a Democrat, as their next Attorney General. However, Republicans retained majority control of both the State Senate and State Assembly. And while Tony Evers will move into the Governor’s house in January, Republican Scott Walker is still the Governor for the next few weeks. So, naturally, Republicans in Wisconsin’s State Senate and Assembly called a lame-duck session of the State legislature in order to pass new limits on the power of the Governor and the Attorney General, limits that were not in place when Republican Scott Walker was Governor and Republican Brad Schimel was Attorney General.
After a frantic, extraordinary 22-hour legislative session, Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly on Wednesday morning joined their Senate colleagues in passing a sweeping package of bills intended to curb the authority of incoming Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
The legislation now goes to the desk of departing Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has signaled he will sign off on it before he leaves office in early January.
The final bill will weaken Evers’ ability to institute rules to enact laws and grant the legislature control of the state economic development board through September of next year, the AP reported. It also goes after the power of incoming Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, handicapping his ability to move forward with his campaign promise to withdraw Wisconsin from a federal lawsuit that aims to repeal Obamacare.
What makes these moves all the more heinous is that Democrats actually received more total votes than Republicans in the State Assembly, nearly 55% of the total votes. Yet Republicans won 63 of Wisconsin’s 99 seats in the State Assembly because they gerrymandered the districts.
In 2011, Republicans, who controlled the governor’s office and both houses of the Legislature, used that power to cement majorities through the redistricting process — the constitutionally required once-a-decade process to adjust electoral maps for changes in population.
Some Republicans recognized just how undemocratic this bill is, including a former Republican Governor of Wisconsin, Scott McCallum, who urged outgoing Governor Scott Walker not to sign the bills.
Former Wisconsin Governor Scott McCallum wants the Republican Party to play nice. In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Republican politician encouraged outgoing Governor Scott Walker to not subscribe to the GOP’s efforts to weaken incoming Democratic governor Tony Evers’ transition.
Republican lawmakers are seeking to pass legislation that will complicate Evers’ rise to authority in the state. To avoid the “appearance of sour grapes,” McCallum proposed Walker should consider talking over forthcoming legislation with the Governor-elect before signing anything officially into law.
“It’s the wrong time to do it, it’s not done for the right reason,” McCallum told the Journal Sentinel. “It is not transparent. It is not a good way to create public policy.”
The 68-year-old former lawmaker and businessman called the current state of politics a game between the Democratic and Republican parties. He proposed Walker veto many of the proposals that his party has put forward in haste to secure their outgoing power. McCallum lamented the appearance that the Republican Party is more in prone to partisanship than its rival lawmakers.
“We seem to be going down a very slippery slope of personal power over public policy,” McCallum said. “It appears completely political, like a power grab.”
Unfortunately, Scott Walker cannot be swayed by calls to ensure pesky little things like democracy, and is now indicating that he will be signing the bills to limit the powers of the incoming Democrats:
SB 884, the most controversial measure that Republicans passed (just one GOP legislator voted against it), would limit the duties of the attorney general by taking away his power to name a solicitor general to represent the state in major lawsuits. Legislators would instead get to hire their own outside lawyers to represent the state. The bill would also give lawmakers, rather than the attorney general, the power to decide how to spend settlement money.
The bill would restrict early voting ― which is generally known to increase voter turnout and help Democrats ― prevent Evers from banning guns in the state Capitol without the Legislature’s approval and give lawmakers increased control over a beleaguered state economic development agency.
On Sunday, Evers told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he talked with Walker a few days ago and was not “not particularly encouraged” that Walker would listen to him and veto the bills.
In his statement Tuesday, Walker said he is looking at whether the bills will improve transparency, increase accountability, affirm stability and protect taxpayers.
Walker steadily amassed power during his eight-year tenure. The lame-duck bills would move some of that power back to the Legislature, which will remain in the hands of Republicans.
There will be one last dastardly deed done by Scott Walker to really cement his legacy, apparently.