Michigan Republicans to take up limits on Democrats' powers

Howard TerryDec 09, 2018

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin defeated Republican challenger Leah Vukmir by almost 11 percentage points.

That's what happened last night, and before sunrise this morning, in Wisconsin.

Still, even if voters in North Carolina didn't understand every nuance of the legislature's play in the 2016 lame-duck session, Democratic-leaning voters had a sense Republicans overreached, said Thomas Mills, a Democratic strategist in that state.

Wisconsin Republicans worked through the night Tuesday to bring together enough votes to pass a sweeping package of lame-duck proposals created to empower the GOP-controlled Legislature and weaken the incoming Democrat replacing Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

"Even you have questions", Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz said as debate began.

Appearing on CNN, Evers joined Democratic lawmakers in calling these actions a power grab.

It is my ultimate responsibility as a legislator to represent my constituents. "They are terrified that 2018 is not the end of anything, but only the beginning".

Republicans in Wisconsin and MI were wiped out of their states' top offices in November. The state assembly was expected to follow suit. They lost all statewide races amid strong Democratic turnout.

"I'm just shocked by the way that Republicans in MI are handling this issue".

The measures also restrict early in-person voting to two weeks before an election. Republican lawmakers claimed that this rankled their (often rural) constituents. The Republican measures would also change the date of the 2020 presidential primary to benefit a conservative state Supreme Court justice and limit early voting.

Preventing future votes is one thing. The legislature did not pass an earlier provision which would have allowed lawmakers to hire private attorneys using taxpayer funds to litigate lawsuits in place of the State Attorney General, but the legislature will have the power to intervene using private attorneys in cases where state statutes are challenged. "Be fair. Give the voters the right to choose their governor and attorney general". That's the reason the GOP is stripping powers from the governor's office, right?

"Laws written by the legislature and passed by a governor should not be erased based on political maneuvering of an incoming administration", he said.

The Assembly passed the bill 59-32 early Wednesday morning.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald downplayed concerns about what was being considered in the lame-duck session, saying "I don't think it's outrageous at all".

They came from all over Wisconsin, not as partisans but patriots. They might not trust him. Rather than putting the election behind us and working with Gov. -elect Evers to improve health care, strengthen schools and fix our roads, Republican leaders have tightened their fists on more power. But for the moment, they have the power to do so - so they are. Let them know that they are.

The bills were kept secret until the afternoon of Friday, November 30. (In fact, according to staff on the Joint Finance Committee, of the 1,426 constituents who registered to testify, six spoke for informational purposes only, 1,420 spoke against - and zero spoke in favor.) Then, amidst thunderous protests from constituents and from Democratic colleagues, Republicans amended and passed their bills through committee late at night, once television newscasts were over.

It was a shocking result.

The GOP-led moves drew rebukes from prominent Democrats on Monday, including Steyer and Sanders, both of whom are mulling White House runs in 2020.

Both Evers and Kaul urged Republicans not to do it and warned of lawsuits that would bring more gridlock to Wisconsin when the new administration, and the first divided government in 10 years, takes over.

- Prohibit judges from giving greater weight to state agencies' interpretations of laws in court challenges.

After Democrats' midterm election win in Wisconsin, Republicans are trying to limit the new governor's reach.

The package of bills now awaits Walker's signature. Astonishingly, the Republicans primary concern is to protect their own power.

Democrats in Wisconsin girded for a fight and encouraged voters to speak out as Republicans prepared to move ahead quickly this week with a highly unusual and sweeping lame-duck session to pass a series of proposals that would weaken both Democratic Gov. -elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul.

Psssttt! While you're here we need your help.

And Tuesday, lawmakers are set to vote on a number of bills that would limit Evers' authority when he's sworn in. "This is taking us to a place where we are back to politics as usual".

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