Monday, 10 Dec 2018

Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan, defeated in November, seek to recover by limiting the powers of future Democrats

Opponents of a special session bill submitted by Republican legislators from Wisconsin are gathering for a rally in front of the State Capitol of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin on Monday. (John Hart / AP)

After being voted down last month, Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan are seeking to deprive Democrats of complete control of the government, sparking a public outcry against the attempt to seize power by national figures, including potential candidates for 2020, Tom Steyer and Senator Bernie Sanders. (I-Vt.).

In a scene reminiscent of protests against the anti-union campaign led by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) eight years ago, protesters gathered Monday in the state capital and met repeatedly voiced at a hearing on the GOP legislative package, which was presented. late Friday and should be voted on Tuesday.

"It's a lame session, and here the legislature is abusing power," state representative Katrina Shankland (D) said in a statement that the decision "slaps on every voter who voted record way ". midterm. "

The state representative, John Nygren (right) replied that it was "wrong" that the hearing was unprecedented or represented an attack on democracy, causing blame on the part of several members of the crowd.

"It's not a two-way conversation," he said, threatening to clear the room if protesters did not calm down.

In the corridors outside the courtroom, protesters chanted "No mas Vos!" And "No more Walker," referring to the Speaker of the House of Assembly. State, Robin Vos (R), and the outgoing Republican governor. More than 300 people had registered to speak at the hearing, and legislative leaders are waiting for them to go on until late into the night.

Movements in both states drew comparisons with Republican efforts in North Carolina in 2016, when lawmakers passed a law limiting the authority of the governor-elect-democratic state, triggering a legal battle that resulted in a loss for the Republicans.

In Wisconsin, the far-reaching Republican legislators' proposal would weaken the authority of the elected governor, Tony Evers (D), and Attorney General Josh Kaul, who overthrew their Republican opponents last month.

In an exchange with reporters in the governor's residence on Monday night, Walker described measures to remove the powers of the new administration from a simple routine. "Despite all the talk of controlling power, it's really not the case," he said.

He added that he "was not proposing any of this" but declined to say he would sign any of the measures. "It depends on what they send me," Walker told reporters.

He also defended Republican lawmakers against accusations that they would violate the will of voters, who elected the Democrats as governor, attorney general, treasurer and secretary of state.

"The members of the legislature were elected after a term ending on polling day," he said. "They were elected for a term that ends in January. Just as my term ends in January. "

Among the most controversial parts of the plan are provisions that would limit early voting – which helped the Democrats – to prevent Evers from making appointments and move the Wisconsin 2020 presidential primary in March, a change that has had the effect of reducing the turnout at the April 2020 summit. The election of the courts would likely increase the chances of conservative judges.

The plan would also deprive the governor of the power to remove the state from a lawsuit, thus allowing legislators to make the decision. According to critics, this proposal aims to ensure that Wisconsin continues to be part of the Republicans' challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

The Wisconsin Electoral Commission estimated Monday that moving the date of the 2020 presidential primaries would cost more than $ 6 million. At a unanimous vote, the six-member bipartisan group said it would be "extremely difficult" to proceed as well, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper this weekend, Evers said "everything is on the table" to try to block the lame agenda of GOP lawmakers, including lawsuits.

"The last elections changed the state in a way that apparently the legislature decided not to accept," he said.

In Michigan, where Democrats won the governor's mansion last month as well as the attorney general's and secretary of state's races, Republican lawmakers introduced measures last week that would dilute the authority of these officials over control. campaign finance and other legal issues.

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) Criticized the proposals in a tweet at the end of last week, Argue this the states voters "have made their choices at the polls and Republicans must respect the results".

The Republicans of both states defended the measures as necessary to prevent the Democrats from revealing what they consider to be their legislative successes.

"Most of these items are things that we never really had to deal with because, guess what? We have trusted Scott Walker and the administration to be able to manage the back and forth with the legislature, "said Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (right) on Monday. , in an interview with conservative radio host Jay Weber. "We do not trust Tony Evers for the moment in many of these areas."

Movements led by the GOP drew reprimands from prominent Democrats on Monday, including Steyer and Sanders, who are both mulling over the White House race in 2020.

Sanders, who has traveled to Wisconsin several times to campaign against Walker, called the efforts "shameful" and "pathetic" and declared that they "must be stopped". Steyer, the mega-donor best known for his campaign to oust President Trump, accused Republicans of "changing the rules" rather than their ideas or their program after their middle-term losses.

"The GOPs in Wisconsin and across the country have clearly indicated their preference: power first, then democracy, then the American people," he said in a statement.

Eric H. Holder, former Attorney General of the United States, another potential presidential candidate, critical the latest efforts led by Republicans in a tweet on Sunday.

"People spoke in November," Holder said. "Republicans refuse to listen and seek to retain power – by all means. This is not good for our democracy. It's time for the people of Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin to be heard – again. Contact these lawmakers / let them know you are opposed to this action. "

In 2011, 14 Democratic state senators left Wisconsin to prevent a quorum from voting on a budget bill ending collective bargaining for most public sector unions. This tool is no longer available for Democrats because the Republican rule package does not substantially affect state spending.

But Senator Jon Erpenbach (D) said that some Republican ideas, such as allowing the legislator to pay lawyers to deal with cases the Attorney General refused, would be unpopular once implemented – if they could be enforced.

"Some of what they're trying to do to the powers of the governor and the attorney general can be unconstitutional," Erpenbach said during an interview. "I hope some of my Republican colleagues will take a step back and realize that they would set a precedent that in 20 or 30 years, people will see the beginning of a dark period." But some of them are locked up in safe neighborhoods and just do not care. "

During a phone conversation with reporters Monday, lawyer Bruce Spiva, who had previously won a lawsuit against early voting restrictions, said the Republican bill would "directly conflict" with the injunction that preserved the old hours.

Sonmez reported from Washington. David Weigel and Colby Itkowitz contributed to this report.


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