This year, the people of Wisconsin pronounced their verdict on the GOP legislators who seized control over the state through gerrymandering and voter suppression: overwhelmingly, they voted to replace those legislators and the governor with progressive Democrats (it worked in the case of the governor; the legislature will remain Republican for now, thanks to extreme Republican gerrymandering that renders the votes of many in the state useless).
The lame-duck Republicans sitting in the state-house awaiting the new Democratic governor weren't done: like their counterparts in Michigan, they had a giant Fuck You up their sleeves for the voters: a slate of reforms that would neuter the power of the incoming governor and his attorney general, along with a toxic stew of other measures, like a prohibition on handgun bans in the capital.
Despite subzero temperatures, thousands of protesters thronged the capital to protest the coup. Despite the manifest popular will on their doorstep, the Wisconsin GOP staged an all-night session and passed nearly the whole state (the sole significant change was the elimination of a proposal to let the state legislature hire its own lawyers to bypass the Attorney General).
Governor Scott Walker -- who handed billions in corporate welfare to a Chinese company that has reneged on its promise of creating good, in-state jobs -- has said he will sign the bill.
The next stop will be a courthouse: the incoming governor Tony Evers has vowed to fight the legislation there.
The bill would weaken the governor's ability to put in place rules that enact laws and shield the state jobs agency from his control until September. It would also limit early voting to no more than two weeks before an election, a restriction similar to what a federal judge ruled was unconstitutional. Democrats were optimistic it would be rejected by the courts again.
The proposal would also weaken the attorney general's office by requiring a legislative committee, rather than the attorney general, to sign off on withdrawing from federal lawsuits. That would stop Evers and Kaul from fulfilling their campaign promises to withdraw Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit seeking repeal of the Affordable Care Act. They made opposition to that lawsuit a central part of both of their campaigns.
The Legislature passed another measure to enact Medicaid work requirement rules Walker recently won a federal waiver to establish. The bill would also give the Legislature oversight over the governor seeking future waivers for health care, a change Democrats said would handcuff the new administration.
The proposals come after North Carolina lawmakers took similar steps two years ago. Michigan Republicans also are discussing taking action before a Democratic governor takes over there.
Wisconsin GOP pass slew of measures during lameduck session [Scott Bauer and Todd Richmond/AP]