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December 17 -- The New Federalism
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HomeSpotlight Story | Bird’s Eye View | Budget & Taxes | Politics & Leadership | Governors | Hot Issues | Once Around the Statehouse Lightly
Gov.-elect Tony Evers (D) said he will make a personal appeal to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) to veto legislation the GOP-controlled legislature passed to transfer key powers from the governor to lawmakers. If that fails, Evers says he will likely take legal action “to make sure that this legislation does not get into practice.”
Amid raucous protests last week – and done mostly behind closed doors in the middle of the night – the GOP-dominated legislature adopted measures that, among several things, require Evers to get permission from lawmakers before seeking any adjustments to programs jointly-run federal and state programs. Another would block him from withdrawing the state from a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, a major campaign promise, and grant lawmakers the power to make the majority of appointments to the state’s economic development board.
Perhaps even more significant, it would drastically limit early voting in the state, something that has historically tended to help Democrats.
“Wisconsin has never seen anything like this,” Evers said in a statement. “Wisconsin values of decency, kindness, and finding common ground were pushed aside so a handful of people could desperately usurp and cling to power while hidden away from the very people they represent.”
Evers wasn’t the only target – the GOP also took direct aim at incoming Democratic state attorney general Josh Kaul. Under the sweeping bills they approved, Kaul would need their approval to settle select lawsuits, and legislative leaders would be able to intervene in those cases by hiring their own lawyers in cases where a law’s constitutionality is challenged. He would also be stripped of the power to appoint a solicitor general to represent the state in major lawsuits.
The measures were predominantly driven by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R), a staunch Walker ally who accused Democrats of exaggerating the impact of the legislation. Vos said the bills primary goal is to ensure “we have an equal amount of power at the table.”
Similar proposals are under consideration in Michigan, where Democrat Gretchen Whitmer will take over from termed-out Republican Gov. Rick Snyder in January. A measure endorsed by Wolverine State lawmakers last week would grant the Legislature, House or Senate power to intervene in any suit at any stage, in theory out of fear that Whitmer or incoming state Attorney General Dana Nessel would not defend GOP-passed laws facing legal challenges. It would also strip incoming Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson of the authority to oversee state campaign finance laws. Snyder has not indicated if he will sign the measures. (CBS NEWS, NEW YORK TIMES, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL, IRON MOUNTAN DAILY NEWS, REUTERS)