The Republican-controlled Wisconsin state legislature has voted to strip Democratic Governor-elect Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul of a significant amount of power, a last ditch effort by lame-duck Republican Governor Scott Walker to undermine the democratic process after losing his race in November. Governor Walker is expected to sign the bill into law soon.
The bill will restrict a number of the executive’s functions, including the Attorney General’s ability to remove Wisconsin from a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The bill undermines the Attorney General’s authority by allowing the Republican-controlled state legislature to hire its own lawyers to defend state laws in court.
The bill also limits early voting, stops Evers from weakening voter ID laws, enacts Medicaid work requirements, and gives the legislature power over the economic development agency that Evers seeks to dissolve.
Democrats plan to challenge the measures in court, decrying Republican efforts as a blatant attempt to undermine the will of Wisconsin voters. The Republican Senate Majority Leader has blatantly said they are stripping the executive branch of power in order to block Evers’ “liberal agenda.”
Protesters have swarmed the state capitol in Madison in opposition to the lame-duck Republican power grab. “They can only win by cheating. That’s what they’re doing in there right now,” said Kathy Kennedy, a state employee who took off work to protest. “They’re a bunch of cowards.”
Wisconsin Democrats running for State Assembly received over 54 percent of the popular vote as voters unseated Republican incumbent Governor Walker. But despite the popular vote victory, Republicans will maintain control of 64 percent of the state assembly seats due to partisan gerrymandering that weakens the voting power of Democrats.
This is hardly the first attempt by Wisconsin Republicans to undermine elections. A study conducted last year showed that the state’s voter ID laws discouraged as many as 23,000 Wisconsinites from casting a ballot in the 2016 presidential election, a disproportionate number of whom were Black and/or poor.
Media Resources: NPR 12/5/18; CNN 12/5/18; Think 12/4/18; Feminist Newswire 10/6/17