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 meant to curb the authority of incoming Democratic Gov.
"Democrats have been exaggerating and resorting to hyperbole throughout the debate", state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos tweeted.
The commission unanimously adopted a motion Monday to send written testimony to legislators saying the move would create multiple conflicts, be "extraordinarily difficult" and may not be feasible. That measure is awaiting a final legislative vote in the state Assembly. But because of extreme gerrymandering, they wound up with 64 percent of the State Assembly seats. Republican lawmakers claimed that this rankled their (often rural) constituents.
Republican lawmakers will huddle behind closed doors Tuesday as they finalize their plans to clip the powers of Gov. -elect Tony Evers and incoming Attorney General Josh Kaul, limit early voting and give Republicans control of the state's job-creation agency.
Never miss the news and analysis you care about. That would stop Evers and Kaul from fulfilling their campaign promises to withdraw Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit seeking repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
The GOP has introduced sweeping lame-duck legislation that would weaken the governor and attorney general's offices.
In Michigan, where Democrats last month won the governor's mansion as well as the races for attorney general and secretary of state, Republican lawmakers introduced measures last week that would water down the authority of those officeholders on campaign finance oversight and other legal matters. Sen. Meanwhile, the governor would be stripped of his normal powers as the state's negotiating partner with the federal government.
Require Evers to get permission from the Legislature before he could ban guns in the state Capitol.
It's nothing short of a legislative coup. More than 300 people had signed up to speak at the hearing, which legislative leaders expected to stretch on until late in the night.
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Defending the rushed process and content of the bill package, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said that Democrats unfairly "whipped up people" and that he was sickened that they "so grossly" exaggerated its objective, according to the New York Times.
"We don't trust Tony Evers", Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told reporters on Monday. "I do not believe the originally proposed legislation was the morally correct way to proceed; the amended legislation passed today ensures legislative intent is upheld while respecting the authority of the incoming administration".
Just after midnight, Republicans succeeded in approving, through party-line votes, a plan to lock in place a work requirement for Medicaid and food stamps, which would force tens of thousands of indigent yet able-bodied and childless adults under the age of 50 to work to qualify for these public benefits. Less than an hour later, Republicans said they would let people back in. They clearly communicated to my office their preference that the separation of powers between branches of government be retained.
The bills were kept secret until the afternoon of Friday, November 30. In the meantime, Republican Gov. Scott Walker faced a chorus of boos from protesters at an event in the state Capitol. They repeated this pattern the following night on the Senate and Assembly floor.
"This is a lame-duck session, and here the 'legislature is abusing power", Democratic state Rep. Katrina Shankland said during the hearing, calling the move "a slap in the face of every voter who voted in record turnout in the midterms".
It was a shocking result.
Republicans in both states have defended the moves as necessary to prevent Democrats from unraveling what they view as their legislative successes. The bills also would shift the 2020 presidential primary from April to March to protect conservative Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly from a potential Democratic wave in April.
The measure was approved on a 17-16 vote with all Democrats and one Republican voting against it.