Wisconsin Republicans to vote on weakening governor's power

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker delivers his budget address to a joint session of the legislature at the capitol

Wisconsin Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says there aren't enough votes in the Senate to approve every proposal being offered in the lame-duck legislative session, but he wouldn't say that any of them are dead.

After being defeated at the ballot box last month, Republicans in Wisconsin and MI are seeking to deny Democrats full control of state government, prompting a public outcry against the attempted power grab by national figures who include potential 2020 candidates Tom Steyer and Sen. Republicans will maintain their majorities in the Legislature next year when the Democratic Evers takes over.

The lame-duck maneuvering in Wisconsin is similar to what Republicans did in North Carolina two years ago and is being discussed in MI before a Democratic governor takes over there.

Hundreds of people protested both inside and outside the hearing room, banging on the doors and chanting "Respect our votes!"

The protests, coming at the end of Walker's eight years in office, were reminiscent of tumult that came shortly after he took office in 2011, when he moved to end collective bargaining powers for public sector unions.

Another proposal would restrict Evers' control over the state's job creation agency. And he suggested that GOP legislative leaders "don't trust" the Governor-elect.

Switch who can approve withdrawing from lawsuits from the governor to the budget committee, a move that would stop Evers ordering Kaul to remove Wisconsin from a lawsuit challenging the federal Affordable Care Act.

State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told conservative talk radio station WISN's "Jay Weber Show" on Monday that the agenda for the lame duck session is created to corral Evers before he takes office. "When you give voters the opportunity to vote, they will vote", he said.

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"Unfortunately I think this extraordinary session says that the Republicans don't believe that people of this state have the right or the intelligence to elect their leaders", said Sen.

Republicans had proposed moving the date of the 2020 presidential primary to improve the chances of a conservative Supreme Court justice, who was appointed by Walker and is on the ballot that year. But Fitzgerald said Walker and his chief of staff had been deeply involved in crafting the measures. Sixty of the state's 72 county election clerks have come out against adding a March election, saying it's logistically impossible to administer so many contests in such a short period of time and it would cost about $7 million.

Evers, incoming Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul and other opponents urged Republicans to reject the measures.

The state Elections Commission unanimously adopted a motion Monday declaring that the shift would be "extraordinarily difficult" and costly without additional funding.

Other bills would move the 2020 presidential primary date to benefit a conservative state Supreme Court justice, limit early voting and reduce the power of the incoming Democratic attorney general.

A similar limit was found unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2016 and Democrats have threatened to take legal action again should the plan be signed by Walker. Until 2012, they were held separately, said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. He called on the people of Wisconsin to contact their legislators even as the bills were speeding through. "Unless they want to volunteer their time and their money to help us do it, it's just an enormous burden".

Evers spoke to reporters Sunday at a Milwaukee law firm. "I think it's the wrong message, I think it is an embarrassment for the state and I think we can stop it". He says Republicans are trying to undo results of the November 6 election but he thinks voters can stop it by lobbying their representatives. They did not make the bills public until late on Friday, after scheduling a Monday hearing before the joint finance committee.

Republican state Rep. John Nygren fired back that it was "not true" that the hearing was unprecedented or represented an attack on democracy, prompting boos from members of the crowd.

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