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 these bills are, 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 instead went ahead and signed the bills to limit the powers of the incoming Democrats:
Scott Walker, the outgoing Republican governor of Wisconsin, on Friday signed into law measures that diminish the power of his Democratic successor and expand the authority of Republican lawmakers who teamed up with him over the last eight years to move the state firmly to the right.
Mr. Walker approved the measures over the vehement objections of the incoming governor and despite fierce protest in the State Capitol as Republican lawmakers rushed the bills through in a hastily-called session last week. Tony Evers, the Democrat who beat Mr. Walker in the November election, has suggested that he may file suit over the changes and said that Mr. Walker had chosen “to ignore and override the will of the people of Wisconsin.”
Mr. Walker’s move will solidify some of the policies that made him a hero to many conservatives nationally and, for a brief time, a leading presidential candidate. But participating in what many Democrats consider a legally dubious power grab also cemented another widely held view: that Mr. Walker is a bruising partisan willing to break precedent and ignore protests for political gain.
“The last eight years have been very much characterized by the view of, ‘We’ve got the power, we’re going to do what we want and anybody else, that’s too bad,’” said James E. Doyle, Mr. Walker’s Democratic predecessor as governor, who called the last-minute bills “unseemly.”
To make matters even worse, the day before signing the bills limiting the powers of the Governor, Scott Walker decided one last time to use one of those powers that is being taken away, so he could give away $25 million of Wisconsin taxpayer money to a private company:
Taxpayers will pay a Fox Valley company about $25 million over five years under a deal struck by Gov. Scott Walker in his last weeks in office using powers the Legislature recently voted to strip from his successor.
Kimberly-Clark, which makes Depend undergarments and other personal care products, will receive the incentive package in an effort from Walker to preserve 388 jobs in one of its plants.
The last-minute deal comes after GOP leaders for months could not find enough votes in the state Senate to pass a $70 million package over 15 years for Kimberly-Clark. Some Republican lawmakers called that proposal a bad deal for taxpayers and the free market, and Democrats wanted legislation that addresses the entire paper and forest products industry rather than just one company within it.
Walker was able to strike the latest deal with Kimberly-Clark without seeking approval from the Legislature because it is smaller than the last proposal.
Scott Walker is capping his career as Governor of Wisconsin in about the most heinous way possible, by putting vile partisanship ahead of the wishes of the people of Wisconsin.