Wisconsin Legislature criticized for lame duck session to limit governor's power, restrict early voting

Democrat Tony Evers takes office in January, but the GOP still controls the Legislature.
Publish date:

With a month to go until Wisconsin gets a Democratic governor and attorney general, the Republican-led Legislature is attracting attention for its attempt to limit their power.

It was revealed last week that the GOP-led Legislature intends to hold a "lame duck" session ahead of Democrat Tony Evers taking up office, replacing outgoing Republican governor Scott Walker.

Among the measures being considered by Wisconsin GOPers includes one that would shift the power over Wisconsin's involvement in federal lawsuits from the governor's office to the Legislature's budget committee, which the Associated Press reports would prevent Evers from withdrawing Wisconsin's challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

Another proposal would allow Republican leaders in the Legislature to hire their own attorneys when state laws are challenged in court, a responsibility currently belonging to the Attorney General (an office that will also become Democrat in January).

Other policies being considered would be one to limit early voting to a two-week window before elections, which the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Democratic attorneys have already vowed to fight in the courts, saying it would be unconstitutional.

Another measure being considered by Wisconsin is one that would shift the presidential primary from April to March.

Moving the primary would cost the state $6.8 million, WMTJ reports, but it's being considered so that Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly, a conservative judge who is up for re-election, doesn't appear on the same ballot as the presidential primary.

Sign up: Subscribe to our daily newsletters

With Democratic turnout expected to be higher for the primary, the GOP think Kelly's chances of being re-elected would be better if the primary is held separately from the state general elections.

The lame duck session is starting on Monday with potential votes being taken on Tuesday. The idea is to get bills passed for Governor Scott Walker to sign before he leaves office.

Before the plan was released, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told the Journal Sentinel that the proposals were "inside baseball" and "it’s hard for me to believe people will get too excited about."

But since its release, it's been described as a "lame duck power grab" by Democrats and has attracted attention in the national media, with Madison365 reporting a protest is due to be held on Monday evening on the steps of the Capitol in Madison.

Next Up

dnr trout stocking helicopter

DNR uses a helicopter to more efficiently stock lakes with trout

In the past, the DNR used airplanes to stock remote lakes with fish, but the survival rate of the fish was only 85%.

steve simon zoom call

Secretary of State explains plans for segregated absentee ballots

Election officials are reminding voters that it's too late to mail in your absentee ballots.

Halloween, trick-or-treating

Osterholm on safe trick-or-treating: 'I would say go ahead with it'

The infectious disease expert's opinion doesn't align with the CDC's guidance.

drop and go ballot plymouth

It's too late to mail your ballot, but you can still vote. Here's how.

Voters can drop off their absentee ballot, vote early in-person or head to the polls on Election Day.

2019-12-11 f1rst Wrestling Hanukka Havok-Darin Kamnetz-154

Dusting itself off after virus blow, F1rst Wrestling returns to the ring this Sunday

Minnesota's premier independent wrestling company was on top of the world before the virus hit.


McDonald's is bringing the McRib back in December

It hasn't appeared on menus for eight years.

Apple Valley High School

2 more Twin Cities districts moving to distance learning for grades 6-12

The decision was announced as infection rates in Dakota County rise.

covid-19 testing site sign

Here are the 4 free COVID-19 testing sites in MN for the week of Nov. 2

People don't need to have symptoms or insurance to get tested for free.

minnesota zoo

Minnesota Zoo launches activities to get people embracing nature

The zoo is hosting a pumpkin scavenger hunt and a "Do the Zoo, Not Zoom Day."


Wisconsin GOP passes measures to weaken its new Democratic governor

The measures are expected to be signed by outgoing Gov. Scott Walker.

Tony Evers, Wisconsin governor

Teachers unions urge Wisconsin governor to move classes online in the fall

Gov. Tony Evers had previously stated he supports classes beginning in-person instruction in the fall.

Tony Evers, Wisconsin governor

During Shelter in Place order, Supreme Courts say Wisconsin vote will go ahead

The court overturned Gov. Tony Evers executive order to delay Tuesday's election by two months.


Judge in Wisconsin reinstates governor's COVID-19 capacity restrictions

It comes amid surging cases and hospitalizations in the state.

Tony Evers, Wisconsin governor

Wisconsin to allow retail stores to re-open, with strict customer limit

It's the latest 'turn of the dial' on Gov. Tony Evers' Stay at Home order.

A Minnesota House race was decided by just 4 votes

That, and more interesting results from Tuesday's elections.

What can you do if you voted early and your candidate has dropped out?

Three Democratic candidates dropped out following the New Hampshire primary.