The Republican-dominated Wisconsin legislature began an unusual lame-duck session on Monday to consider bills that would undercut the power of Governor-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, Democrats whose victories broke six years of Republican control of the state's executive and legislative branches.
Republican lawmakers have said they are trying to assert power for the Legislature before Evers takes office in January.
"This legislation is an effort to undermine the results of the elections we just had for governor and for attorney general", Kaul told reporters Tuesday.
The bills would also allow legislators to decide whether to withdraw the state from lawsuits, rather than the attorney general.
Traditionally Democrats and Republicans agree on time limits for debate, but Minority Leader Gordon Hintz said there was no agreement reached this time because the lame-duck session is "illegitimate" and an "absolutely awful day for Wisconsin". Assembly Republicans said they would vote in their chamber by midnight.
-Elect Tony Evers, seen here on the campaign trail. But Fitzgerald said Walker and his chief of staff had been deeply involved in crafting the measures. However, they dropped plans to move the 2020 presidential primary.
The state Elections Commission unanimously adopted a motion Monday morning declaring that the shift would be "extraordinarily difficult" and costly without additional funding. Commissioner Mark Thomsen, a Democratic appointee, called the idea the "biggest waste of money for a single person that I can think of".
A similar limit was found unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2016 and Democrats have threatened to take legal action again should the plan be signed by Walker.
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A Republican-controlled legislative committee planned a public hearing Monday, immediately followed by a vote, setting up approval in the state Senate and Assembly on Tuesday.
Crowds of protesters descended on the state capitol in Madison, gathering outside in freezing weather and shouting "shame" at lawmakers inside.
Republicans in Wisconsin sought Tuesday to curb the authority of the U.S. state's newly-elected, incoming Democratic governor, in a move critics decried as a blatant power grab. "Back to a position where people in Wisconsin may feel their voices were not heard on November 6 and put us in a place where the legislative branch will be fighting with the executive branch for no apparent reason". Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., criticized the proposals in a tweet late last week, arguing that the state's voters "made their choices at the ballot box and state Republicans need to respect the results". The Legislature, not the governor, would have the majority of appointments on the state's economic development agency that Evers has said he wants to dismantle.
"If he wanted to put a stop to this, he could", said Russ Hahn, a 53-year-old attorney holding a sign that said "GOP Grinch Steals Democracy".
Both Evers and Kaul urged Republicans not to do it and warned of lawsuits that would bring more gridlock to Wisconsin when the new administration, and the first divided government in 10 years, takes over.
About 565,000 people voted early in the November elections.
Walker has signaled support, but he couldn't escape anger over the rare lame-duck session even during what is normally an upbeat holiday tradition. The move is created to protect state Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly, who's up for re-election that April, from a Democratic wave. Jon Erpenbach. "They lost and they're throwing a fit". Katrina Shankland, a member of the Wisconsin state assembly, accused Republicans of acting like "sore losers".
Republicans worked on the proposals in secret for weeks, discussing only portions of their agenda after they were leaked to reporters.