Wisconsin Republicans approve bills stripping power from incoming Democratic governor
06 December, 2018, 08:47 | Author: Carlos George
Democrats fought back Monday as Republican legislators in Wisconsin and MI moved to strip power from them after the GOP lost a series of crucial races last month.
They also moved to give lawmakers authority to stand up for GOP-backed laws if they think the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general are not adequately defending the state's interests.
In Wisconsin, only those adults with incomes at or below poverty, which is $12,140 for a single person and $25,100 for a family of four, qualify for Medicaid, although pregnant women with higher incomes are eligible.
The legislation would weaken the governor's ability to put in place rules that enact laws and shield the state jobs agency from his control until September.
The legislation would allow legislators to replace the attorney general with outside attorneys in cases, require lawmakers to sign off on settlements, send settlement dollars to the state general fund and prohibit the governor from authorizing the attorney general to withdraw from lawsuits.
The new rules block the governor and attorney general from fulfilling one of their signature campaign promises: to withdraw Wisconsin from the multistate lawsuit to torpedo the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for people with preexisting conditions. Instead of seeking adjustments to program rules directly from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services would have to go to Republicans in the state legislature first.
Democrats vowed to do all they could to stop the measures, which would weaken both Democratic Gov. -elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul. But Fitzgerald said Walker and his chief of staff had been deeply involved in crafting the measures.
The state Elections Commission unanimously adopted a motion Monday declaring that the shift would be "extraordinarily difficult" and costly without additional funding.
The measure was approved on a 17-16 vote with all Democrats and one Republican voting against it.
The legislature passed another bill limiting early voting across the state to just two weeks and moving up the date of the state's 2020 presidential primary.
A news conference where Fitzgerald and other Republican leaders spoke was peppered with catcalls from protesters.
Almost a day after the legislature's "extraordinary session" began, the state Senate and Assembly concluded their work, passing a raft of legislation created to curtail authorities enjoyed by Walker and outgoing Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel.
Crowds of protesters descended on the state capitol in Madison, gathering outside in freezing weather and shouting "shame" at lawmakers inside.
Wisconsin Republicans are planning dramatic lame-duck votes in the state Legislature on a sweeping attempt to limit the powers of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., criticized the proposals in a tweet late last week, arguing that the state's voters "made their choices at the ballot box and state Republicans need to respect the results". "This is embarrassing we're even here". Both Evers and Kaul urged Republicans not to do it, warning that lawsuits would bring more gridlock to Wisconsin when the new administration, and the first divided government in 10 years, takes over. Roughly 565,000 people voted during the midterms, and Brown said Republican leadership should stop and listen.
The last lame-duck session in Wisconsin was eight years ago, just before Walker took office, when Democrats tried unsuccessfully to approve union contracts.
Stung by their election loss in the governor's race last month, Republicans treated the lame-duck session as a final opportunity to use their political clout to weaken the next governor before time runs out. Jon Erpenbach said during Senate debate.
Barry C. Burden, a professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin -Madison says that the session was so unprecedented that political scientists are still examining the details of what was passed, but some of the threatened measures that would have certainly spurred legal challenges were removed before passage.
Republicans have had majorities in the state Senate and Assembly since 2011, and worked with Walker the past eight years to past a host of conservative priorities.
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