Wisconsin Republicans approve bill to weaken Democrats' power

State's lame-duck legislature calls rare session to pass bill stripping power from incoming Democratic governor.

    Wisconsin Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos addresses the Assembly during a contentious legislative session in Madison, Wisconsin [Andy Manis/Getty Images/AFP]
    Wisconsin Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos addresses the Assembly during a contentious legislative session in Madison, Wisconsin [Andy Manis/Getty Images/AFP]

    The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature passed a sweeping measure early on Wednesday that takes power away from the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general and reduces how long early voting can take place.

    Both the state Senate and Assembly passed the bill and current Republican Governor Scott Walker has indicated he will sign it. His successor, Democrat Tony Evers, has said he may mount a legal challenge.

    The legislation limits the governor's ability to put in place administrative rules that enact laws and gives the Legislature the power to control appointees to the board that runs the state economic development agency until September 1.

    The bill would also require legislative approval to withdraw from lawsuits, taking that away from the attorney general.

    'Sore losers'

    Wisconsin's lame-duck Republican-majority legislature called the rare post-election session this week to pass the proposals before Governor-elect Evers takes office in January and can exercise his veto power.

    Democrats blasted the Republican majority for trying to grab power after they lost the governorship in elections on November 6. That election ended years of complete Republican control of government in the state.

    "Republicans are very sore losers," said Democratic Senator Fred Risser. "You're trying to undo what the voters have done."

    Republicans say the moves are aimed at keeping a proper balance between the legislative and executive branches.

    A similar effort is under way in Michigan, where the Republican-controlled legislature is weighing new laws to hamstring incoming Democrats.

    Michigan Republicans want to end the secretary of state's oversight of campaign finance laws and sidestep the attorney general in litigation.

    The efforts are reminiscent of lame-duck maneuvers that North Carolina Republicans took in 2016 to strip the incoming Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, of the power to appoint a majority of members to a state election-oversight board.

    A court later blocked the move as unconstitutional.

    This year, Republicans in North Carolina are rushing to pass a new voter identification law before they lose their veto-proof majority in January.

    SOURCE: News agencies