For the Gazette
MADISON – On Monday, Republican members held a rare lame-duck session that would seek to restrict early voting and limit the power of Gov.-Elect Tony Evers. On Wednesday, these motions were passed by a 17-16 vote, which will see final approval by Gov. Walker, which has voiced his support for these measures.
In a Monday press conference, Republican Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald expressed mistrust over Evers as he defended the lame-duck session.
“Listen, I’m concerned. I think that Gov.-elect Evers is going to bring a liberal agenda to Wisconsin,” he said.
The 141-page plan would move the 2020 presidential primary to March, likely to benefit the bid of a conservative Supreme Court Justice, and also restrict early voting to only two weeks before an election. The move also limits the powers of Gov.-Elect Tony Evers, and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul. Further moves include limiting Democratic involvement in the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, as well as a campaign promise from Evers to become involved in the Affordable Care Act.
After an all-night session, the State Assembly passed lame duck legislation to limit the powers of the governor and attorney general. In response, Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) released the following statement:
“Wisconsin voters made it very clear what they wanted on November 6 – change. When they elected a full roster of new Democratic constitutional officers this fall, they didn’t expect Republicans to override the will of the voters through lame duck legislation that limits the powers of the governor and attorney general,” said Rep. Shankland, a member of the Joint Finance Committee.
“It’s very telling that these bills were introduced by Speaker Vos late Friday afternoon, and that he refused to testify at the public hearing two days later. They couldn’t even give us real fiscal estimates to tell us what these bills will ultimately cost our state. It could be very costly, not only to our taxpayers, but also to our democracy.”
“These bills were drafted two weeks after the November election when Republicans lost every statewide office. This amounts to nothing more than a power-hungry move by politicians desperately trying to cling to power. They should keep their grubby hands off our democracy. I don’t believe for one second that we would have had a lame duck session to take away power from Governor Walker and Attorney General Schimel if they had been re-elected. Republicans have had complete control of all levers of state government for eight years, with every opportunity to enact these changes.
“The record turnout in the midterm election underscored one message: voters want us to work together to fix our roads, protect and expand access to healthcare, and invest in education – not waste our time and taxpayer money on this abuse of power. If this lame duck session were truly meant to advance the best interests of the people of Wisconsin, we would not have seen delay after delay of the start time, to the point that voting took place overnight, at times when most of the public were sleeping.”
“The people of Wisconsin need to know that we absolutely heard them at the ballot box and in their testimony in opposition to this lame duck extraordinary session. While the politicians who gerrymandered themselves into office might not be listening, I hear you loud and clear. We owe it to our constituents to do our jobs and put people before politics, and I encourage my Republican colleagues to work with us to improve the lives of our constituents.”