Democrats in Wisconsin girded for a fight and encouraged voters to speak out as Republicans prepared to move ahead quickly this week with a highly unusual and sweeping lame-duck session to pass a series of proposals that would weaken both Democratic Gov. -elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul. 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, the health care legislation also known as Obamacare.
Democrats have criticized it as a last-minute power grab that undercuts the November 6 elections, when Democrats broke years of total Republican control of state government in Wisconsin.
"The seeds you're planting may grow into something you will regret", said Sen. Representative Chris Taylor, a Democratic lawmaker from Madison, mused with regard to the proposal to limit the governor's ability to pursue health care changes, "If this is such a great accountability measure, I wonder why you haven't proposed it before?"
"These Republican legislatures are acting like banana republic dictators, not leaders in a democracy", Jared Leopold, communications director for the Democratic Governors Association, told NBC News in a statement.
Walker lost to Evers by fewer than 30,000 votes out of more than 2 million cast. His defeat in 2018 in a quest for a third term (and in his fourth race in eight years) was a massive victory for national Democrats who had grown to loathe the Wisconsin governor not the least of which for his seeming invincibility to their electoral challenges.
"Rather than accept the will of the people, Republican legislators have vindictively jammed through a sweeping set of bills created to undermine the power and authority of our incoming, democratically-elected leaders".
Protecting the state's voter ID law from any future changes by Evers.
"Citizens from every corner of Wisconsin deserve a strong legislative branch that stands on equal footing with an incoming administration that is based nearly exclusively in Madison", Fitzgerald said.
The GOP's sweeping legislative package would also severely restrict early voting, limiting it to as little as two weeks before an election.
That power, along with others, would go instead to the state legislative branch, still Republican-dominated. Evers has said he wants to dissolve the agency and replace it with one that's fully public.
Session Is "An Embarrassment" To Wisconsin | News
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In both Wisconsin and Michigan, Republicans will continue to control the legislatures but will now have Democratic governors.
"This is a heck of a way to run a railroad", Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling said as the Senate debate resumed at 5 a.m. after a seven-hour impasse.
But state Republicans say the bills only seek to balance power.
A spokeswoman for Michigan Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said the latter bill would transfer oversight to a "bipartisan entity, rather than a political officeholder".
"They are terrified that democracy is returning to Wisconsin", The Nation's John Nichols, a Wisconsin native, declared in a speech from the steps of the capitol building.
Speaker of the Assembly Robin Vos declared that if the extraordinary measures weren't passed, "We are going to have a very liberal governor who is going to enact policies that are in direct contrast to what many of us believe in".
There has not been a lame-duck session in Wisconsin since 2010, when Democrats tried unsuccessfully to approve union contracts before Walker took office.
Republicans in Wisconsin have enjoyed control of the government - between the governorship and both chambers of the statehouse - during Gov. The perceived power grab will likely motivate the Democratic base, but Republicans may also point to the breach of decorum by protestors, he said, adding that by the 2020 elections, much of the details will have faded anyway. But incoming Governor Evers says he hopes Walker would keep in mind the will of the voters.
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