Wisconsin lawmakers passed a wide-ranging series of lame-duck bills early Wednesday morning weakening the power of the state’s legislature as it turns blue.
On a party-line vote, Republicans passed legislation that will reshape the state’s government as Republican Gov. Scott Walker leaves office.
Beginning in the new session, Republican legislative leaders will be able to retain their own attorneys to challenge state laws, effectively sidelining the attorney general.
The legislation also removes the governor’s ability to approve the attorney general’s withdrawal from lawsuits and shifts the power into the hands of the legislature’s finance committee.
This move has caused controversy as Democratic state Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul campaigned on promptly withdrawing Wisconsin from a multistate federal lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, The Associated Press reported.
In-person early voting in elections will now no longer exceed two weeks, abolishing the current system where each municipality enforces its own in-person early voting schedule.
Detractors claim the measure is designed to constrain early voting since early voters tend to vote Democrat. Democrats contend that high voter turnout was a major factor in the party flipping the state’s highest positions blue.
“(The legislation) goes to the heart of what democracy is all about,” Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers said Sunday. “I think it’s the wrong message, I think it is an embarrassment for the state, and I think we can stop it.”
During the special session in 2010, lawmakers considered contracts that couldn’t be changed for years. The things being discussed in the 2018 extraordinary session are things that can be changed by the new Governor and Legislature.
— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) December 4, 2018
The legislation is now headed to Walker’s desk for signature. It is likely to be signed into law since Walker has expressed support for some of the measures in the past, according to AP.
“Wisconsin law, written by the legislature and signed into law by a governor, should not be erased by the potential political maneuvering of the executive branch,” state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, both Republicans, said in a statement.
“In order to find common ground, everyone must be at the table,” they said.
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