Wisconsin Republicans Pass Legislation to Reduce Powers of Governor, Attorney General

The power to withdraw Wisconsin from a lawsuit challenging the federal health care law would rest with a legislative committee, rather than the attorney general.

Michigan's secretary of state is responsible for enforcing the campaign finance law and issuing binding declaratory rulings related to political spending.

Scott Walker ends his eight-year run, the GOP-controlled Legislature quickly passed controversial bills this week that are partly aimed at weakening the powers of his successor, Democrat Tony Evers, and incoming Attorney General Josh Kaul, also a Democrat. "It sets a awful precedent for the next session", said Wisconsin state Rep. Chris Taylor, a Democrat who represents Madison. "It's really not consistent with how we've had transfers of power in the past. I hope it's not the new normal".

The GOP has controlled the legislatures and the governor's offices in Wisconsin and MI since 2011.

Wisconsin Republicans passed some laws to heighten the governor's power back in 2011, after Walker was elected, Marquette's Nolette said.

Meanwhile, in MI, the legislature will also remain in control of Republicans, but the governor, attorney general, and secretary of state will all be Democrats for the first time in almost three decades.

The move comes almost a month after Gov. -elect Tony Evers, a Democrat, narrowly beat Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

MI lawmakers also are trying to weaken marijuana legalization and voter registration ballot initiatives that voters approved this year.

Republicans in MI are considering a similar tactic to push legislation that would allow the state legislature to intervene in legal battles before the Democratic governor, attorney general, and secretary of state take office in January.

The GOP actions in Wisconsin mirror what the party has done after losing control of the governor's office in MI this year and two years ago in North Carolina, where the state is still mired in lawsuits. "This is a valid legislative conversation that should be had during a regular session - not a lame-duck one". They would allow the legislature to intervene in lawsuits and give oversight of campaign finance law to a commission, thus taking power away from the incoming Democratic attorney general and secretary of state.

"At no point did voters say they wanted the rules manipulated". They also were moving a bill allowing the legislature to defend laws challenged in court if Democrat leaders opt against doing so.

A backlash against Trump helped Democrats gain in 2018, but they still control just 37 percent of statehouses, compared to Republicans 61 percent, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures, a non-partisan research group.

Lawmakers are trying to put their "judgment in place of the judgment of the voters of Wisconsin, " he said.

Not all the details of the Democrats' H.R. 1 are yet known, since the party continues to work on it privately and won't file it until the new session.

He predicted the Wisconsin legislation would spark lawsuits across multiple jurisdictions.

The bill was sent to the GOP-led House on Thursday for consideration as early as next week, following a similar move to restrict the powers of incoming Democrats in neighboring Wisconsin.

Cementing Walker's Foxconn cronyism is bad enough, but the Republican maneuvers in Madison this week also smack of a strong disrespect for the ultimate holders of political power in Wisconsin: the state's voters.

"The GOP is getting a reputation as the party that does not trust voters or believe in democracy".

Other Republicans said the bills would bring balance between the divided government. "Had last month's results been different, specifically in this particular race, I am confident that this legislation would not have been introduced".

Evers can not withdraw the federal waiver that is part of the requirement because he would first have to go through the GOP-controlled Legislature.

Eggert reported from Lansing, Michigan.

Vanessa Coleman

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