"If democracy can die there, it can die anywhere".
That's what happened last night, and before sunrise this morning, in Wisconsin.
Democrats have criticized it as a last-minute power grab that undercuts the November 6 elections, when Democrats broke years of total Republican control of state government in Wisconsin. Republican lawmakers pushed through a sweeping set of bills that will limit the power of Governor-elect Evers.
First, some critical context: in Wisconsin, the legislature is not, in fact, the most representative branch. "They were elected to a term that ends in January".
The measure was approved on a 17-16 vote with all Democrats and one Republican voting against it.
Update: The Republican plan has passed the state Assembly. In fact, there's a chance that the gerrymandered map will be thrown out by the Supreme Court next year. They lost all statewide races amid strong Democratic turnout. Republican lawmakers claimed that this rankled their (often rural) constituents.
Divided along party lines, the GOP-run state budget committee in Wisconsin had a day earlier advanced numerous controversial measures after less than 12 hours of debate and amid growing protests in and around the capitol in Madison.
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- Give Republicans in the Legislature the majority of appointments to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the state's quasi-private job-creation agency that Evers wants to reorganize.
Under current law, Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul could move forward with removing Wisconsin from the ACA lawsuit with Evers' approval.
The attorney general's office could also be weakened by a proposal to require a legislative committee, rather than the attorney general, to sign off on withdrawing from federal lawsuits.
As the votes neared, legislative leaders began to let the mask slip about the true intention of their legislation.
The Assembly passed the bill 59-32 early Wednesday morning.
Major quake rocks Anchorage prompting tsunami warning
The Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center in downtown Anchorage was being used as a shelter for people unable to get home. But to the relief of residents, the Port of Anchorage , a major source of supplies for the state, appeared undamaged.
"We don't trust Tony Evers", Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told reporters on Monday. The legislation, he said, ensures that Evers will have to negotiate with lawmakers and can not unilaterally erase Republican ideas. But, as former House candidate Randy Bryce testified to a legislative committee later that night, "Voters do". But for the moment, they have the power to do so - so they are.
He urged voters to contact their legislators and said lawsuits were also being explored.
"We have allowed far too much authority to flow to the executive", Vos said. However, lawmakers could still bring the provision back on the Assembly or Senate floor with an amendment.
It was a shocking result. Two of the eight people who signed the statement were appointed by outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
"'What they are planning for the Republican Party of Wisconsin will malign its integrity and lead to its downfall", he wrote. Republicans had planned to move the date of the 2020 presidential primary, at cost of almost $7 million, from April to March, in order to prevent it from taking place on the same day as the April 7 State Supreme Court race.
Other people concerned about the measures including Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling. Katrina Shankland, a member of the Wisconsin state assembly, accused Republicans of acting like "sore losers". The Senate passed the proposal earlier in the evening.
- Prohibit judges from giving greater weight to state agencies' interpretations of laws in court challenges. Even if they survive, they will one day be repealed. The measures are created to weaken both incoming Democratic Gov. -elect Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul. Other pieces are aimed at insisting on legislative backing for certain decisions traditionally made by the attorney general.
The package of bills now awaits Walker's signature. The budget will still come from the administration. "It's time for Republicans to accept the will of the voters and stop this brazen and illegal power grab".
The move would have a "toxic effect" on the Legislature moving forward, he added, making it more hard for lawmakers to work with a new governor to address relatively nonpartisan issues.
Psssttt! While you're here we need your help. If that's the reason, why not take it up before the election - or earlier, when it would have limited Scott Walker's authority?
"When we have roads to fix and schools to fund and health care plans to fund, how can you possibly justify setting up this parallel organization when we already have an attorney general and a process in place to take care of these issues?" said Rep. Christine Greig of Farmington Hills.
Angry opponents filled the hallways of the Wisconsin Capitol, and the hearing room, banging on the doors and chanting "Respect our votes!" and "Shame!"