Wisconsin Republicans Approve Bills Stripping Power From Incoming Democratic Governor

Wisconsin Republicans Approve Bills Stripping Power From Incoming Democratic Governor

Members of the Wisconsin State Assembly watched the final vote on Wednesday for a series of bills that would strip the incoming Democratic governor of power.CreditCreditLauren Justice for The New York Times

MADISON, Wis. — After a rancorous, sleepless night of debate, Republican lawmakers early Wednesday pushed through a sweeping set of bills that will limit the power of Wisconsin’s incoming governor, a Democrat.

Protesters at the State Capitol opposed Republican legislation that would diminish the power of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general.CreditLauren Justice for The New York Times

The legislation, which Democrats vehemently opposed and protesters chanted their anger over, passed through the Republican-held State Legislature after hours of closed-door meetings and some amendments. The votes fell largely along party lines; no Democrats supported the measures.

“That’s what this is about: power-hungry politicians using their grubby hands in their last-ditch effort to desperately cling to power,” said State Representative Katrina Shankland, a Democrat, before the vote Wednesday morning. “All we’ve seen demonstrated today and over the past few days is a contempt for the public.”


“You are so grossly exaggerating the words of this bill it makes me sick,” said Robin Vos, left, the Republican speaker of the Assembly, in response to Democratic opposition.CreditLauren Justice for The New York Times

The fight over power in Madison came after Republicans, who have controlled the state for the last eight years, lost the offices of governor and attorney general during the midterm elections. Tony Evers, a Democrat, defeated Scott Walker, a two-term governor who drew national attention with a brief run for president.

Republicans explained the moves to limit to the authority of the governor as part of a long-needed change in the balance of power, which they said had become tilted in favor of the executive branch. Robin Vos, the speaker of the Assembly, accused Democrats of fanning hysteria and exaggerating the effects of the bills.


Tony Evers, the Democrat who will take over as Wisconsin’s governor in January.CreditSteve Apps/Wisconsin State Journal, via Associated Press

“You are so grossly exaggerating the words of this bill it makes me sick,” Mr. Vos said.

Democrats scoffed at that explanation, noting that Republicans had seemed perfectly satisfied with the balance of power when Mr. Walker held the role.

The measures limit early voting, require lawmaker approval for the attorney general to settle certain lawsuits, and give lawmakers, not the governor, the majority of appointments on an economic development board. They also prevent Mr. Evers from banning guns in the Wisconsin Capitol without permission from legislators.

The package of bills now awaits Mr. Walker’s signature.

On Tuesday, senators confirmed dozens of Mr. Walker’s political appointees despite protests by Mr. Evers, who called the last-minute installations an “example of putting politics before people.”


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