GOP Lame Duck Session Subverts the Will of the People

by Matthew Rothschild, Executive Director

December 3, 2018

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign opposes the lame-duck session of the legislature. It is a brazen effort to subvert the will of the people of Wisconsin, who voted on Nov. 6 for a new governor and new attorney general.

It is also a disgustingly hypocritical maneuver. Republican leaders had no qualms whatsoever about the powers of the governor and the attorney general over the past eight years while fellow Republicans Scott Walker and Brad Schimel have held those offices. But now that Democrats are taking over, all of a sudden Republican leaders say those offices are too powerful.

This is a sneak attack. No Republican leaders ran on limiting the power of these offices. This came out of the blue. It’s a slap in the face of the Wisconsin voter.

And it’s also profoundly undemocratic in two other ways.

First, it would limit early voting two weeks before an election, a move that would reduce voter turnout. Currently, some communities allow early voting as much as six weeks before the election. A similar plan in 2016 to limit early voting was found unconstitutional by a federal judge.

Second, it would move the state’s 2020 presidential preference primary from the first Tuesday in April to the second Tuesday in March. The move is intended to help conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly win election in the April because Democratic turnout is expected to be high for the presidential primary.

To design bills so as to lower voter turnout is the opposite of what democracy is supposed to be about. This is shameful.

The package of bills would also:

Make it more difficult for the governor to enact administrative rules that implement state laws;

Allow majority GOP legislators to prevent the state from leaving a multi-state Republican lawsuit challenging provisions in the federal Affordable Care Act, also dubbed Obamacare;

Transfer authority over how state court settlements are spent from the attorney general to the legislature;

Limit the governor’s authority to change state work requirements for food stamps;

Prevent the governor from changing the state’s voter ID law;

Require the governor to get permission from the legislature before asking the federal government to make changes in programs run by the state and federal governments;

Limit the governor’s authority over the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which runs the state’s economic development programs and giveaways, and the Group Insurance Board, which oversees state health benefits, by increasing the number of legislative appointments to the boards that run those agencies;

Make it easier for the legislature to hire private attorneys to defend itself and to use taxpayer-paid lawyers in place of the attorney general to defend challenges to state laws;

Require the governor to get permission from the legislature to ban guns from the State Capitol or make security changes;

Reduce state income tax collections by $60 million;

Require the governor to report any pardons he grants to the legislature;

Prevent judges from giving deference to state agencies’ interpretations of laws when state laws are challenged in court.

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign urges all Wisconsinites to contact your legislators at 1-800-362-9472 and demand that they respect the will of the people and vote no on these bills.