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Wisconsin Lame Duck

In an extraordinary “lame-duck” session, majority Republican lawmakers in the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate have this week pushed through legislation that weakens the position of incoming Democratic Governor Tony Evers.

Despite days of public protest and vehement opposition from Democrats and others, the legislation was passed for approval to soon to be ex-Governor Scott Walker.

Walker has signaled his support for the bill. He has 10 days to sign the package from the time it’s delivered to his office.” [1]

Consequently, the Wisconsin GOP is being accused of imposing its mandate, hampering Evers ability to govern on arrival in office in January, despite the Republicans losing the gubernatorial race in November.

Key points of the lame-duck session include:

  • Legislation that weakens the “Governor’s ability to make rules that enact laws” by shifting power away from the Governor to the GOP controlled Senate and Assembly. [2]
  • The lame-duck package includes “legislation that also shields the state jobs agency from his control until September and cuts into the powers of the incoming Democratic Attorney General.” [3]
  • 82 Scott Walker appointees to various state positions were approved in just one day, Tuesday December 4th 2018, with Walker set to stand down in just a few weeks. [4]
  • The Republican lame-duck legislative package also launched an assault on early voting in Wisconsin, something that has historically been helpful to Democratic candidates at election time, restricting it to no more than two weeks in advance. [5]

Opponents of this legislative maneuvering, including Tony Evers, have vowed to challenge the legitimacy of the GOP lame-duck package.

Evers has indicated that he will appeal directly to Walker to have the legislation vetoed. [6] Additionally, Evers and Democrats are exploring the possibility of legal challenges to the legislation. [7] Evers’ tenure as Governor is likely to be born into the midst of legal wrangling and political acrimony.

[1] https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/midwest/ct-wisconsin-governor-powers-voting-bill-20181205-story.html

[2] & [3] https://www.apnews.com/dbded03c16ce4c3c8609d01b403e57d9

[4] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/scott-walker-82-appointees_us_5c084080e4b0844cda4f9959

[5] https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/12/wisconsin-gop-seeks-to-limit-democrat-everss-powers/577411

[6] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tony-evers-walker-republican-power-grab_us_5c087993e4b0844cda4fbb25

[7] https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/05/politics/wisconsin-democratic-lawsuits/index.html

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Changes to Wisconsin Healthcare Law

Healthcare was a major campaign issue during the recent November mid-term elections.  In particular, incoming Democratic Governor Tony Evers ran on a platform of overhauling healthcare delivery in the state and undoing some of outgoing Republican Governor Scott Walker’s signature health-care policy and proposals.

However, despite Evers’ platform, uncertainty continues to hang over healthcare in Wisconsin and how far he can take his proposed reforms.  That uncertainty has been compounded by the State Assembly and Senate “lame duck” sessions.

Some fundamental healthcare issues at stake include:

  • Allowing Republican lawmakers to push through Governor Walker’s proposal to impose work requirements on able-bodied citizens in return for receiving Medicaid, similar to Arizona. [1]
  • Governor-elect Evers ability to use additional tax dollars offered by the federal government to expand Medicaid, while outgoing Governor Walker rejected the opportunity to do so. [2]
  • In February this year, 20 states, including Wisconsin (with the full support of Governor Walker) filed a lawsuit with a federal judge in Texas alleging the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional and should be invalidated. [3] In stark contrast, Evers has called on Walker to drop the lawsuit and is committed to expanding ACA coverage in Wisconsin. [4] & [5]

In mid-2017, Democratic State Representative Daniel Reimer and State Senator Jon Erpenbach introduced Assembly Bill 365 in an effort to “…protect the part of the ACA that prevents insurers from putting annual or lifetime caps on insurance coverage.” [6] However, the Republican majority amended AB365 at the procedural stage and morphed the Bill into something very different from what its Democratic authors had intended, to the potential detriment of those Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions. [7]

Healthcare in Wisconsin remains contentious and subject to a partisan fault-line that seems to divide the state.

[1]  https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2018/01/12/able-bodied-adults-have-work-medicaid-under-plan-gov-scott-walker-trump/1026414001

[2]  https://www.wpr.org/can-wisconsins-incoming-governor-deliver-campaign-health-care-promises

[3]  https://www.jsonline.com/story/money/business/health-care/2018/09/10/wisconsin-and-other-states-argue-immediate-end-obamacare-least-protections-people-pre-existing-healt/1259251002

[4]  https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/09/17/tony-evers-calls-scott-walker-drop-obamcare-lawsuit/1333835002

[5]  https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/11/28/tony-evers-tour-state-he-makes-case-obamacare-expansion/2143408002

[6]  http://www.wisconsinbudgetproject.org/wisconsin-bill-does-little-to-protect-people-with-preexisting-conditions

[7]  http://kidsforward.net/without-the-affordable-care-act-promises-to-cover-pre-existing-conditions-are-not-enough

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AB 1070 Changes to Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

Intellegere Project previously covered the proposed AB 1069, one of five bills on the agenda during the lame duck session. This piece covers AB 1070, specifically those changes impacting the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

The WEDC is resposible for designating “Enterprise Zones” (EZ) such as the Electronics and Information Technology Manufacturing Zone (EITMZ) designated for the Foxconn project. In addition, the WEDC is responsible for negotiating the tax incentive packages for companies in the EZ areas. [1]

AB 1070 proposes changes to the board of directors of the WEDC. The following quote describes the make up of the board under current law. [2]

(14.)
Under current law, the board of directors of the Wisconsin Economic
Development Corporation consists of 12 voting members as follows:
1. Six members are appointed by the governor subject to senate confirmation,
to serve at the pleasure of the governor.
2. Three members are appointed by the speaker of the assembly, consisting of
one majority and one minority party representative to the assembly and one person
employed in the private sector, all of whom serve at the speaker’s pleasure.
3. Three members are appointed by the senate majority leader, consisting of
one majority and one minority party senator and one person employed in the private sector, all of whom serve at the majority leader’s pleasure.
As it stands currently, 6 board members are appointed by the Governor. The remaining 6 are appointed by the assembly speaker and the senate majority leader. There are specifications as to who may be appointed by these two individuals such that these 6 board members should represent the majority and minority parties as well as the private sector.
(14. cont.)
Under this bill, the board consists of 12 voting members. However, the governor
appoints four members. The speaker of the assembly and the senate majority leader
each appoint three members, but the appointees need not be members of the
legislature nor employed in the private sector. The minority leader of each house
appoints one member to the board.
Under the proposed changes the Governor appoints 4 members (two less than currently). The assembly speaker and the senate majority leader still appoint 3 each, but there are no restrictions as to who they may appoint. The two remaining board members are appointed by the minority leaders of the house and senate.
(14. cont.)
The bill further provides that the chief executive officer of WEDC is appointed
by the board of directors of WEDC and serves at the pleasure of the board. Currently, the governor appoints the CEO.
This final piece removes the ability of the Governor to determine the Chief Executive Officer of the board and instead gives this authority to the board.
AB 1070 and the other bills contain many other changes which have been widely reported in the media. [3] [4]
Uncategorized

Governor-Elect Evers Calls on Citizens to Contact Representatives, Wisconsin GOP Leaders Continue to Defend Lame Duck Legislation

Today, five bills proposed by Wisconsin GOP legislators face a public hearing and vote by the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance (JCF) [1]. 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 [2].

The bills cover a range of topics including:

  • Moving the Wisconsin primary from April to March [3].
  • Giving lawmakers the power to appoint a special counsel to replace Attorney General Josh Kaul—on litigation determined by a legislative panel [3].
  • 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 [4].

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 [5]. 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, via social media, to “contact [their] legislators at 1-800-362-9472” and ask that lawmakers vote no on all five bills [8]. Tony Evers has tweeted the following:

EversRetweet

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 [9]. 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 [10]. 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” [11].

 

[1] https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/raw/cid/1474917

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/12/03/us/ap-us-xgr-wisconsin-legislature-lame-duck-the-latest.html

[3] https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/gop-lawmakers-seek-sweeping-new-restrictions-on-incoming-democratic-attorney/article_97fcae5b-ce51-5bef-8871-dd0d6fa9c327.html

[4] https://intellegereproject.org/2018/12/03/2017-18-wisconsin-lame-duck-ab-1069/

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/12/03/us/ap-us-xgr-wisconsin-legislature-lame-duck-the-latest.html

[6] https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/12/03/5-senators-spotlight-opponents-try-stop-lame-duck-bill/2189439002/

[7] https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2018/12/02/tony-evers-says-he-take-any-steps-possible-prevent-gop-plan-take-away-his-power/2181201002/

[8] https://www.wisdc.org/news/commentary/6260-gop-lame-duck-session-subverts-the-will-of-the-people?fbclid=IwAR3h0Xrd648a8waik6C6o2OjqQC_9to5rkSnjrs9ksG96KBZJ-61znLyqiw

[9] https://www.wpr.org/democrats-push-back-possible-gop-limits-evers-power

[10] https://www.wpr.org/node/1357081

[11] https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2018/11/30/lawmakers-consider-changes-early-voting-transportation-funding-2020-presidential-primary/2162684002/

 

Uncategorized

Governor-Elect Evers Calls on Citizens to Contact Representatives, Wisconsin GOP Leaders Continue to Defend Lame-Duck Legislation

Today, five bills proposed by Wisconsin GOP legislators face a public hearing and vote by the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance (JCF) [1]. 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 [2].

The bills cover a range of topics including:

  • Moving the Wisconsin primary from April to March [3].
  • Giving lawmakers the power to appoint a special counsel to replace Attorney General Josh Kaul on litigation determined by a legislative panel [3].
  • 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 [4].

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 [5]. 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 [8]. 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 [9]. 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 [10]. 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” [11].

[1] https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/raw/cid/1474917

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/12/03/us/ap-us-xgr-wisconsin-legislature-lame-duck-the-latest.html

[3] https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/gop-lawmakers-seek-sweeping-new-restrictions-on-incoming-democratic-attorney/article_97fcae5b-ce51-5bef-8871-dd0d6fa9c327.html

[4] https://intellegereproject.org/2018/12/03/2017-18-wisconsin-lame-duck-ab-1069/

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/12/03/us/ap-us-xgr-wisconsin-legislature-lame-duck-the-latest.html

[6] https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/12/03/5-senators-spotlight-opponents-try-stop-lame-duck-bill/2189439002/

[7] https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2018/12/02/tony-evers-says-he-take-any-steps-possible-prevent-gop-plan-take-away-his-power/2181201002/

[8] https://www.wisdc.org/news/commentary/6260-gop-lame-duck-session-subverts-the-will-of-the-people?fbclid=IwAR3h0Xrd648a8waik6C6o2OjqQC_9to5rkSnjrs9ksG96KBZJ-61znLyqiw

[9] https://www.wpr.org/democrats-push-back-possible-gop-limits-evers-power

[10] https://www.wpr.org/node/1357081

[11] https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2018/11/30/lawmakers-consider-changes-early-voting-transportation-funding-2020-presidential-primary/2162684002/