Legislature Approves Sweeping Package of Bills in Lame-Duck Session

Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature approved a sweeping package of
bills to curtail the powers of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney

The extraordinary session saw debates, caucuses, and voting go late
into the night and even into Wednesday morning. The state Assembly approved the
lame-duck legislation early Wednesday morning, with the Senate doing the same
less than three hours earlier. The bills now go to outgoing Republican Governor
Scott Walker, who has said he plans to sign them before leaving office. 

measures would limit the governor’s ability to enact administrative rules,
which enact laws and give lawmakers power to control appointees to the economic
development agency board. They also require the attorney general to gain
legislative approval before withdrawing from lawsuits – which is designed to
prevent incoming Democrat Josh Kaul from pulling out of the multi-state lawsuit
challenging the Affordable Care Act. 

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

Governor-Elect Tony Evers released
a statement Wednesday morning saying “
Wisconsin has never seen
anything like this. Power-hungry politicians rushed through sweeping changes to
our laws to expand their own power and override the will of the people of Wisconsin who asked for
change on November 6th… Wisconsinites expect more from us and I hope at some
point the Legislature will rise to the occasion and work with me to solve the
pressing issues facing our state. That’s what the people of Wisconsin want,
that’s what the people of Wisconsin
deserve, and that’s more than what they got from government here tonight.” 

State Senator Dan Feyen of Fond du Lac
also released a statement, saying
. “I can confidently say that the votes we took today are in
good faith and do not usurp the role of Governor-Elect Evers or convolute the
election and voting process. It is my ultimate responsibility as a legislator
to represent my constituents. They clearly communicated to my office their
preference that the separation of powers between branches of government be
retained. I do not believe the originally proposed legislation was the morally
correct way to proceed; the amended legislation passed today ensures
legislative intent is upheld while respecting the authority of the incoming

Feyen goes on to write that he voted to “codify existing administrative
rules, to provide technical fixes to existing government programs, to codify
several judicial rulings, and to codify federal waivers. These provisions
simply ensure current practices continue and that Wisconsin’s statutes are in line with all federal
laws and court rulings.”