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Wis. Legislature Votes to Weaken Governor, AG Powers

Baihly Warfield
Updated: December 05, 2018 09:27 PM

MADISON, Wis. - The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature has approved a sweeping package of bills weakening the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general.

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The state Assembly approved the lame-duck legislation Wednesday morning. The Wisconsin Senate did the same less than three hours earlier after lawmakers worked through most of the night.

Gov.-Elect Tony Evers (D) said Wisconsin should be embarrassed by the "historically improper legislation." 

"The will of the people has officially been ignored by the legislature," Evers said Wednesday afternoon. 

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. 

"We believe this is an issue of putting us on an equal playing field so that when Gov. Evers, who has campaigned and committed since he was elected to work with the legislature, that we come at it from an equal playing field," Nygren said. 

The bills now go to outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has signaled his support.

The measures would limit the governor's ability to promulgate administrative rules, which enact laws and give lawmakers the power to control appointees to the state economic development agency's board.

The measures would also require the attorney general to get legislative approval to withdraw from lawsuits. That move is designed to block Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers from allowing the incoming attorney general, Democrat Josh Kaul, to withdraw Wisconsin from a multistate lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act.

"At no point in the election process did anybody say, 'The legislature might change the process so that the new governor may not be able to direct the attorney general to withdraw from that lawsuit,'" Kaul said. "But now, the legislature has passed legislation that gives itself that power and takes it away from Gov.-Elect Evers."   

The measures also restrict early in-person voting to two weeks before an election. 

The lame-duck session sparked several protests in Madison this week. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Baihly Warfield

Copyright 2018 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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