Republicans prepare to move ahead with lame-duck session

Wisconsin Republicans forge ahead with power-stripping bills

The state Assembly approved the lame-duck legislation Wednesday morning.

To Democrats, the plan is a repudiation of the November 6 election that felled Republican Gov. Scott Walker and swept Democrats into state offices.

Republicans who control Michigan's Legislature are expected to vote on bills that would strip power from the Democratic secretary of state-elect and give lawmakers authority to intervene in lawsuits.

The GOP-controlled Wisconsin Legislature approved a sweeping bill created to empower the legislature and weaken the Democrat replacing Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

It came as Republican lawmakers prepared to vote on lame-duck session measures to weaken powers of the incoming Democratic governor.

"The seeds you're planting may grow into something you will regret", said Sen.

Democracy watchers across the country weighed in as concerned citizens and journalists flooded the Capitol in Madison again Wednesday morning.

Gov. Walker lost his election to Tony Evers by fewer than 30,000 votes out of more than two million cast.

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The protests, coming at the end of Walker's eight years in office, were reminiscent of tumult that came shortly after he took office in 2011 and moved to end collective bargaining powers for public sector unions.

Republican leadership said the media has made the lame-duck session out to be a power grab, but Rep. John Nygren (R) maintained that is a mischaracterization.

Both the state Assembly and the Senate approved the measures, which will protect the GOP's priorities while making it more hard for Evers to enact his.

Much of the current controversy amounts to "inside baseball", in the words of Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, that hasn't broken through with much of the voting public.

The executive director of One Wisconsin Now, which filed the lawsuit challenging the previous attempt to limit early voting, said the Republican's latest effort shows they "refuse to accept the results of the 2018 elections" and are anxious about large voter turnout.

Robin Vos, the speaker of the Assembly, accused Democrats of fanning hysteria and exaggerating the effects of the bills.

Fitzgerald wouldn't say whether there was enough support among Republicans for moving the 2020 presidential primary date, a change that would cost about $7 million and has drawn opposition from almost every county election official.

"It's going to energize [Democrats] a hell of a lot more than it's going to energize the Republicans trying to hold onto some of their gains", Mills said of Wisconsin.

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Those include one aimed at changing the date of the presidential primary and a proposal to remove the attorney general from state lawsuits where he would be a party and replace him with a private attorney of the legislature's choosing. Republicans also want to limit early voting to no more than two weeks before an election.

The GOP-led moves drew rebukes from prominent Democrats on Monday, including Steyer and Sanders, both of whom are mulling White House runs in 2020.

Republican lawmakers, who hold a majority in the state legislature, approved a package of bills to curtail the incoming governor's ability to set certain rules and policies after he is sworn into office in January. The GOP held a similar power grab two years ago in North Carolina, and it's expected that the same will happen in MI before another Democratic governor takes office there.

It would also weaken the governor's oversight of a controversial state economic development corporation by giving the Legislature the power to appoint some members.

Judges could block the proposals if they become law by issuing temporary injunctions, which could last the duration of the cases.

Protesters have come and gone in the Capitol the past two days as lawmakers rushed to pass the bills. "I mean, most of these items are things (that) we never really had to kind of address because guess what - we trusted Scott Walker and the administration to be able to manage the back and forth with the Legislature". Similar laws have been defeated in North Carolina.

Evers has vowed to take "any steps possible", including legal action, to prevent the plan to dilute his powers. But because of extreme gerrymandering, they wound up with 64 percent of the State Assembly seats. But he'll also wield one of the most powerful veto pens in the country. For NPR News, I'm Marti Mikkelson in Milwaukee.

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