Walker signs lame duck bills; Evers says it thwarts "will of the people"

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - On Friday, outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed three bills passed during the state legislature's lame duck session -- measures critics say limit the power of the incoming Democratic governor.

Walker signed the bills in their entirety. He offered no line-item vetoes.

Gov.-elect Tony Evers called the legislation an attempt to "roll back" the results of the November election and thwart the will of the people.

One Wisconsin Institute announced it's pursuing legal action against some of the legislation.

Walker signed the bills at the Green Bay State Office Building. He started his presentation with a Venn diagram that he says demonstrates how Evers will continue to have the same powers when it comes to "stability, transparency and accountability."

The bills change early voting in Wisconsin by limiting it to two weeks before an election. They take away the Evers administration's power to withdraw the state from a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. They also give the legislature control over the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Also, Evers will have to give notice if he decides to pardon a felon.

Walker denounced what he called "hype and hysteria" from critics who called the actions a last-minute power grab from Republicans who lost the governor's race and attorney general's race in November.

"I was looking at this legislation to assess where it stands when it comes to transparency, accountability, protecting the taxpayers, and making sure there is a sense of stability in government," Walker said.

Evers recalled touring the state in the months leading up to the election and hearing what people cared about.

"They also indicated they were sick of, frankly, the issue of dividing and conquering. It wasn't around Democratic or Republican values, it was really about Wisconsin values."

"I stand with the people of Wisconsin," Evers continued, "and now that this legislation has been signed, I will be reviewing our options and will do everything we can to make sure the people of this state will not be ignored or overlooked."

The bills are:

SB 883--Regarding state and local highway projects and spending of federal money. This gives the legislature additional power when it comes to Department of Transportation spending. Click here to read more about the bill

SB 884--Regarding legislative powers and duties, state agency and authority and administrative rule-making process. It eliminates the power of the Attorney General to appoint attorneys regarding state lawsuit and legal challenges. It eliminates the Office of the Solicitor General. Click here to read more about the bill.

SB 886--Regarding federal government waivers and other requests for federal approval.; public assistance programs; waivers from work search and registration requirements for certain unemployment insurance benefit claimants; granting rule-making authority; and making an appropriation. In other words, it gives the legislature power over requests for federal programs and waivers. That power was previously in the governor's hands.Click here to read more about the bill

The bills were passed along party lines during a lame-duck session ahead of the transition from Walker to Evers.

One Wisconsin Institute says it has the backing of the National Redistricting Foundation to challenge the laws in court. It says Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos "was specifically warned" that restricting early voting to two weeks might violate a 2016 court order that struck down earlier Republican attempts to restrict early voting.

Rep. Vos said the governor's actions recognize the legislature as a "co-equal branch of government."

“As Democrats and the media continue to inflate these laws into something they’re not, Assembly Republicans are focusing on the new legislative session and will work to find common ground in divided government," Vos said.

Evers will take office January 7.





 
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