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One of several Nice Times in this year's midterms was the defeat of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by Tony Evers, just in time for a Hanukkah where, for the first time since 2014, the state's governor won't be wishing a hearty "Molotov!" to those observing Jewish Christmas. Fortunately, because Wisconsin is the traditional home of good-government types like the famous Robert La Follette, the orderly transition of power will go smoothly and without any partisan rancor, just as soon as the Republican-controlled legislature passes a few bills to prevent the new Democratic governor from governing too much.

You know it's going to be a great package of measures when the Republican state senate majority leader, Scott Fitzgerald, announces that the rare lame-duck session of the state lege isn't even worth looking at:

"It's real kind of inside baseball, kind of legislative stuff that it's hard for me to believe people will get too excited about," Fitzgerald said three days before the plan was released.

Nothing to see here! Just a few little piddling mechanical tweaks to make sure the new Democrat governor won't wreck all the great stuff done under the Walker administration. Oh, and while they're at it, the Republicans are also going to do what they can to hamstring Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, another Democrat. Look, democracy is all fine and dandy, but there's no reason folks should expect the people they elected to be able to do anything. The midterms didn't return Republicans to the top spots, so obviously the vote was some weird fit of irrational choices.


Talk of taking stripping power from Evers and Kaul and handing it to the lege actually started the day after Walker lost. Once the results were certain, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos explained it was time to start thinking about Good Governance, because golly, just look at how the executive branch has gone out of control during the Walker years!

Maybe we made some mistakes giving too much power to Gov. Walker and I'd be open to looking at that to see if there are areas we should change that[.]

By golly, it's time to bring back some balance in state government, especially now that voters went and put the wrong party in power.

The package of bills is up for a hearing today in committee, and then will be voted on tomorrow, because hey, it's time to get serious about reform. And what a great steaming load of ideas they include! Among other things, the Rs want to undermine some campaign goals that both Evers and Kaul put forward, because fuck you is why. One bill would require all state officials -- especially the ones who'll be sworn in come January -- to put in place work requirements for people getting healthcare assistance through the state's Medicaid alternative, "BadgerCare Plus." Guess what Walker policy Evers had promised to undo?

Another would move authority for signing off on decisions by the attorney general from the governor to the legislature's budget committee, which would prevent Kaul and Evers from withdrawing Wisconsin from the multi-state lawsuit aimed at ending Obamacare and its protections for people with preexisting conditions. That one really has Evers "very concerned," which is Wisconsin for "super-pissed."

"Certainly that is something that was part and parcel to this last campaign and there's no question the governor and I were on different sides of that issue," Evers said. "I also think that's one of the reasons I won."

The GOP also included a bill that would supposedly "protect" folks with preexisting conditions, but those protections would be considerably weaker than Obamacare's, which, as we said a paragraph above, the Rs in the lege want to kill.

To make sure Republicans get the best lawyers possible, they'd like state lawmakers to be able to hire private attorneys with taxpayer funds if laws are challenged in court, rather than have the state AG defend state laws.

"This bill is a full-employment bill for Republican law firms," said Madison attorney Lester Pines, who often defends Democrats. "It will drive up the cost through the roof."

Still another bill would limit Evers's power to change state rules on how agencies would implement laws passed by the legislature -- that's one of those "inside baseball" things that could have huge effects on how the state enforces the law on, say, environmental protections or worker safety. Along similar lines, the new governor would have to get permission from the state legislature before requesting changes from the federal government for any programs jointly run by the state and federal governments. (This is how the lege would prohibit changes to the work requirement for Medicaid, among other things.) And look, if the governor doesn't submit, then the lege can take vengeance!

If the Legislature's budget committee determined the administration was not implementing recent changes to those programs, it could reduce funding and staffing for state agencies.

Also, just to be pissy, the legislature would prohibit Evers from banning guns in the state Capitol building without legislative approval -- or even to change the number of police who patrol the Capitol.

In addition, there's some fun voting fuckery, too! Two big changes are proposed: One would limit all early voting to just two weeks before any election, a rule the state had previously passed but which was overturned in federal court in 2016 as racially targeted. Guess the Rs must figure that with a big new crop of Trump-appointed judges on the bench, it'll work this time -- in the name of having uniform voting rules, you know.

Also outrageous, the lege wants to separate the state's 2020 presidential primary from statewide general elections held in April 2020. Moving the presidential primary would almost guarantee far lower Democratic turnout in the April election, which would improve the reelection chances for a conservative judge on the state Supreme Court. And all that fuckery would only cost an additional $7 million!

Gov-elect Evers has called on Wisconsin voters to call their representatives to oppose the whole shooting match, and there's a fair chance that the whole sore-loser thing will backfire on Republicans in the next state elections, because Jesus, sore losers much? A similar 2016 attempt in North Carolina to limit the power of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper was tossed out in federal court as unconstitutional. Scott Walker hasn't said whether he'd sign any of the measures to tie up Evers and Kaul, but come on -- he's Scott Fucking Walker. He'll do as he's told.

And the sore-loser bug just keeps rolling: In Michigan, where Democrats won elections last month for governor, secretary of state, and attorney general, lame duck Republicans have also introduced a bunch of bills to similarly hamstring the new administration. If passed and signed by departing shitstain Rick Snyder, they too would allow the Republican-held lege to interfere in legal proceedings, undermining the attorney general and governor, and would remove oversight of campaign finance laws from the secretary of state to an "independent" board whose members would be nominated by the state's Republican and Democratic parties. But at least the governor could then appoint whoever the parties nominated, which is nice.

Looks like a terrific preview of 2020 -- if Donald Trump still has a presidency to lose, get ready for him and the Senate to abolish the House in the lame-duck session and pass some emergency laws declaring Trump president-for-life. Constitution? What Constitution?

[Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel / Governing / Journal-Sentinel / AP / Journal-Sentinel / Detroit Free Press]

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Doktor Zoom

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.

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