In Michigan And Wisconsin, GOP Lame Ducks Armed And Dangerous
It's a fine day for the idea of bipartisanship, as all the somber editorials remember what a swell guy George H.W. Bush supposedly was, reaching out to both parties for bipartisan consensus now and then, at least when it came to confirming David Souter and going to war in Kuwait. (Let's not talk about the cramming of Clarence Thomas unto America's throat.) To mark the passing of Poppy Bush, that gentle statesman, the Republican legislatures in Michigan and Wisconsin, where the GOP held on to legislative majorities through the magic pixie dust of extreme gerrymandering, are doing their best to demonstrate that the era of 'peaceful transfer of power' truly has gone straight down the shitter. Both legislatures are using special lame-duck sessions to wrest as much power away from the Democrats who voters foolishly elected last month before they take office and start appointing members of MS-13 to your local school board.
Fine, so maybe it's more of a tribute to the Lee Atwater side of ol' Poppy.
So far, the fuckery in Michigan has just been getting started, since Republicans there were busy getting ready to screw with voter-passed initiatives they didn't like. With that important correction of the voters' silly mistakes taken care of, now the Rs can focus on more efforts to provide an undertow to the Blue Wave. With Democrats set to become governor, secretary of state, and attorney general, the Rs want to shift some of the powers of each office to the legislature, because after all, those Democrats might govern wrong:
First is a bill that would allow the legislature to intervene in any legal proceedings involving state laws that the governor and attorney general may be reluctant to defend. A separate proposal would shift oversight of campaign finance law from the secretary of state to a six-person commission with members nominated by the state Republican and Democratic parties, a move that would produce deadlock in handling those issues, likely entrenching a status quo shaped by Republican officials.
That was just the start of the power-grab wish list; in addition, Republicans in the state House introduced bills to create a commission that would have authority over the state's schools, as Bridge Michigan explains:
In essence, it would serve as a shadow State Board of Education that would not be accountable to the incoming governor, the elected State Board of Education or the state Department of Education.
And, apparently, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is all in on stacking the commission with his appointees before his Democratic successor takes office.
And the bills' sponsor, Republican state Rep. Tim Kelly, is completely open about his desire to subvert the stupid voters' choices, because the educational establishment is useless, useless:
"The state board is not doing their jobs," Kelly said. "It's time to move forward."
Many more details at the full article; it's a really inspiring look at how one plucky rightwinger can dick over an entire state function!
Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer's transition team issued a statement saying, essentially, this aggression will not stand, man, but if these things pass and Rick Snyder signs 'em, get ready for a whole lotta lawsuits following her inauguration. Assuming it's allowed to go forward.
The real action is across Lake Michigan and down in Wisconsin, where the Republican-held legislature held an all-night session and ultimately passed a whole bunch of bills aimed at limiting Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers and AG-elect Josh Kaul from doing their jobs too good. For a nice sense of just how exhausting the whole exercise in subverting democracy felt, see this excellent Twitter thread by Madison Capital-Times reporter Jessie Opoien, who was there for a grueling 23.5-hour shift and managed to write at least two separate articles about what the bastards passed, all while in the midst of the whole shitfest. Salute!
So what did the bastards force through? Around midnight (11 p.m. in the Senate, then a bit after midnight in the House), the Republicans brought forth their first Festivus miracle, a bill to force work requirements for "able-bodied, childless adults under age 50" who are enrolled in the state's Medicaid alternative, BadgerCare Plus, which does not actually cover veterinary care for real badgers. Evers had said he's considering ending the policy, but if Scott Walker signs the bill, tough tootsierolls for Evers, haha -- the bill would give the legislature's Joint Finance Committee power to approve or deny waivers for federal healthcare programs, taking that power away from the governor. In addition, the bill would require some childless adults on BadgerCare to pay premiums, and would charge them for non-emergency visits to ER's, because Republicans are sick of people living the high life on the public dime.
In the wee small hours of the morning, the House and Senate voted to restrict the powers of the governor and AG to pursue or to drop lawsuits. This one is aimed at preventing Evers and Kaul from enacting a central campaign promise they'd both run on, removing Wisconsin from that stupid multi-state lawsuit aimed at overturning Obamacare. You know, the one that made every Republican pretend they actually support protections for preexisting conditions? If Walker signs that load of elephant bollocks, Wisconsin will have to continue as a plaintiff in a lawsuit that's so bad that three DOJ attorneys withdrew from working on the case (and one resigned) rather than have their names associated with it.
The bill would also allow the legislature to hire private attorneys to defend state laws in court, to prevent the nasty liberals from not vigorously defending Republican priorities. You're damned right that was included out of residual pissiness over other states' decisions not to defend anti-gay marriage laws a few years back. In addition, there was some voter suppression tossed in at the same time, limiting early voting to two weeks prior to a general election (a restriction passed previously, but overturned in federal court). The same bill also restricted the governor's ability to appoint the leadership of Wisconsin's economic development commission, and prohibits Evers from imposing any restrictions on carrying guns in the state Capitol. Guns are a Republican worship object, and his profane hands will not touch them! To top things off, Evers's administration will be limited in its ability to create rules on how state law will be carried out.
UPDATE: One bit of fuckery the Wisconsin Lege didn't manage: before the "extraordinary session," there were plans afoot to change the date of the state's 2020 presidential primary to separate it from a state election in April of that year, in hopes that Dems flocking to the presidential primary would ignore the reelection of a very conservative state Supreme Court judge. I asked Cap Times reporter Jessie Opoien in a Twitter direct message what happened to that, and she says, "They did not end up changing it. I think that bill is dead at this point." Yr Dok Zoom, just going above and beyond, for YOU.
For laughs, House Speaker Robin Vos took to the Twitter machine early this morning to declare this wasn't a Republican power grab. Heck no! It's merely an absolutely necessary effort aimed at "ensuring equal branches of government exist in #Wisconsin especially during this time of divided government," don't you see? Odd the Rs never found that necessary during Walker's terms, when equal branches of government were no big. Historian Kevin Kruse celebrated Vos's bold step into the history books of tomorrow:
Of course, Wisconsin and Michigan legislators only need to pass their marathon bills in the lame duck session because they'll still have Scott Walker and Rick Snyder to sign their little power grabs. Despite being spectacularly outvoted in both states, the Republicans held on to their majorities.
State House Dem candidates received a total of 2,092,164 votes in the 2018 midterm. Republicans received 1,917,150 votes — an advantage of about 175,000 for Democratic candidates.
Still, Republicans will hold a 58-52 majority in the State House during the next term.
In the State Senate, our preliminary count found Democrats received 2,062,494 votes while Republicans received 1,945,209 — an advantage of about 117,300 for Dems. Still, the GOP will hold a 22-16 majority next term.
For the sake of perspective, state Sen. Fred Risser said as the marathon of malgovernance ground to a close, "The Republicans this year are very poor losers … they're trying to undo what the voters have done." And he'd know -- he was first elected to the Wisconsin legislature in 1956.
Of course, if you really want to take the very long view, you could check out historian Eric Rauchway's new book Winter War, which is not about Valley Forge or the Battle of the Bulge, but about, in part, how Republicans went apoplectic -- and apocalyptic -- during the lame duck session of Congress when that socialist monster FDR was about to take office. And as everyone now knows, they were right: The nation didn't survive and we are all dead, the end.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.