Today, five bills proposed by Wisconsin GOP legislators face a public hearing and vote by the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance (JCF) . The hearing is in-session at the time of this publication. Should the JCF approve the proposed legislation (AB 1069-73), the bills will move to a special session vote by the Wisconsin State Assembly and Senate, which will likely take place this Tuesday .
The bills cover a range of topics including:
- Moving the Wisconsin primary from April to March .
- Giving lawmakers the power to appoint a special counsel to replace Attorney General Josh Kaul on litigation determined by a legislative panel .
- Shifting the responsibility of setting new income tax rates from the executive branch to the legislature—in cases which are subject to determination by the legislature .
A general theme in the five proposed pieces of legislation, according to Wisconsin Democrats and Republicans alike, is changing or removing the powers of Governor-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General–elect Josh Kaul . Governor-elect Tony Evers spoke up this week to decry the GOP-proposed limits to his administration. Among other measures, he called on Wisconsin’s citizenry to aid his effort by contacting their local legislators to voice their opposition to the special session bills [6,7]. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a non-profit network of Wisconsin citizens, is likewise urging Wisconsinites to “contact [their] legislators at 1-800-362-9472” and ask that lawmakers vote no on all five bills . The Wisconsin Public Education Network and League of Conservation Voters published similar calls to action on their social media pages.
Many republican lawmakers continue to defend their proposed legislation, arguing that the changes will limit the Governor, but only in an attempt to balance power at the Capitol . Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, of Juneau, remarked last week that the bills in question are in no way meant to undermine the Governor-elect . Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos released a joint statement, saying “”Wisconsin law, written by the Legislature and signed into law by a governor, should not be erased by the potential political maneuvering of the executive branch. In order to find common ground, everyone must be at the table” .