Wisconsin’s outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker just signed into law a GOP effort to strip the executive branch of some powers — just as Democrats are about to replace Walker and his attorney general.
Walker narrowly lost his re-election bid to Tony Evers, who will become governor in January. The outgoing three-term governor has defended his actions during a lame-duck session by saying that Wisconsin just generally needed to redistribute some of the state government’s power — never mind that he did it after he lost to a Democrat and was on his way out.
When Evers becomes governor, the state legislature will have more authority over how the Department of Transportation spends money, and it forbids Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul from withdrawing from lawsuits without the legislature’s approval — denting a campaign promise to withdraw from a lawsuit to overturn Obamacare. The new spate of laws also restrict early voting, which usually benefits Democrats.
On top of that, the new set of laws eliminates the solicitor general’s office and allows state lawmakers to hire private lawyers if a law ends up being challenged in the courts.
Evers also will not need legislative approval to ban guns in the Capitol, and he would not be able to renominate officials for positions once they are rejected by the GOP-controlled Senate.
“Today, Governor Walker chose to ignore and override the will of the people of Wisconsin,” Evers said in a statement. “This will no doubt be his legacy. The people demanded a change on November 6th, and they asked us to solve problems, not pick petty, political fights.”
Wisconsin’s electorate voted in a majority for Democrats, but Wisconsin gerrymandering — the “kind of aggressive gerrymandering” that pre-determines electoral results, according to the Brennan Center — allowed Republicans to hold onto a majority of the statehouse.
Power grabs in lame-duck sessions aren’t that unusual, but critics say the one happening in Wisconsin — and also in Michigan — are particularly egregious. In Michigan, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law legislation that delays a minimum wage hike and weakens paid sick leave.
Cover: Addressing members of the media for the first time after failing to win re-election in the 2018 race, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker addresses members of the media from his office in Madison, Wis., Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)