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Wisconsin Republicans approve bill to weaken Democrats's power

Wisconsin Republicans approve bill to weaken Democrats's power

"Go home!" as he presided over the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the Capitol rotunda.

Republican lawmakers will huddle behind closed doors Tuesday as they finalize their plans to clip the powers of Gov. -elect Tony Evers and incoming Attorney General Josh Kaul, limit early voting and give Republicans control of the state's job-creation agency.

The governor, wearing a Santa tie, appeared unfazed as he flipped the switch while one protester shouted "Hey Walker!"

Another measure passed by the Legislature early Wednesday morning would limit Evers' ability to change state laws that require able-bodied, childless adults to work in order to receive public benefits like food stamps and Medicaid.

Walker signaled support for the moves Monday, and his office has been working with Republicans on crafting the package.

At a stop in Wausau, Evers said Monday he would consider litigation should any of the measures become law. That panel, controlled 12-4 by Republicans, planned a vote immediately after the hearing was over.

Republicans worked on the proposals in secret for weeks, discussing portions of their agenda only once they were leaked. Numerous same protesters who confronted him then returned to the Capitol on Tuesday - albeit in far fewer numbers.

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The moves in both states have drawn comparisons to Republican efforts in North Carolina in 2016, when lawmakers pushed through legislation limiting the authority of the state's Democratic governor-elect, triggering a legal battle that resulted in a loss for the Republicans. The last lame-duck session in Wisconsin was in 2010 when Democrats tried unsuccessfully to enact labor agreements.

That likely dooms the plan to change the primary date from April to March, which would have helped a conservative state Supreme Court justice.

The fight over power in Madison came after Republicans, who have controlled the state for the past eight years, lost the offices of governor and attorney general during the midterm elections. Protesters flooded the Capitol on Monday, chanting "Shame!" and occasionally disrupted the public hearing and a news conference with Republican leaders. The panel rejected a proposal to move the 2020 presidential primary date from April to March amid almost unanimous opposition from the state's local election clerks.

"This is like the middle school child asking permission to go to the bathroom", Vinehout said. "You did not run on this".

Tony Evers speaks after winning Wisconsin's Democratic gubernatorial primary election on August 14, 2018 in Madison, Wis.

Assembly speaker Robin Vos countered that the bills will ensure a balance of power between the legislature and the executive branch.

"But listen, I'm concerned", he said.

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"We do not believe any one individual should have the opportunity to come in and with a stroke of the pen. eliminate laws passed by our Legislature", Vos said, citing rules enacting voter photo ID, a key GOP initiative during Walker's two terms. Those protests were massive and lasted weeks.

Republicans were poised Tuesday to complete their work much more quickly, even as Democratic Minority Leader Gordon Hintz refused to agree on time limits for debate.

After 10 hours of testimony and debate, the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee took its last vote just after midnight Tuesday.

Among the appointments confirmed were Ellen Nowak for a seat on the Public Service Commission and high-profile attorney Scott Beightol for the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents.

The lame-duck shenanigans in Wisconsin followed an effort by Michigan Republicans to undercut ballot initiatives that would have raised the minimum wage and granted workers paid sick leave.

The changes would also weaken the governor's ability to put in place rules that enact laws.

- Limit early voting to no more than two weeks before an election. "Be fair. Give the voters the right to choose their governor and attorney general".

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The legislation would allow legislators to replace the attorney general with outside attorneys in cases, require lawmakers to sign off on settlements, send settlement dollars to the state general fund and prohibit the governor from authorizing the attorney general to withdraw from lawsuits. They made opposition to that lawsuit a central part of both of their campaigns. Assembly Democrats filibustered for 60 straight hours in a vain attempt to stop Walker's changes, and the session ended only after Republicans abruptly called the question.