In response to the Wisconsin State Legislature’s passage of sweeping lame-duck legislation restricting the powers of incoming Democratic Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, Wisconsin officials released the following statements:

“Wisconsin has never seen anything like this. Power-hungry politicians rushed through sweeping changes to our laws to expand their own power and override the will of the people of Wisconsin who asked for change on November 6th. Wisconsin values of decency, kindness, and finding common ground were pushed aside so a handful of people could desperately usurp and cling to power while hidden away from the very people they represent. Wisconsinites expect more from us and I hope at some point the Legislature will rise to the occasion and work with me to solve the pressing issues facing our state. That’s what the people of Wisconsin want, that’s what the people of Wisconsin deserve, and that’s more than what they got from government here tonight.”   Tony EversGovernor-elect of the State of Wisconsin

The lame-duck session measures approved by the Republican-controlled state Legislature are aimed at keeping the Legislature in a position of power and hurting Milwaukee. Taxpayers are ill-served by these measures and should be outraged that they are being approved just weeks after Democrats swept every state-wide race in the November 6 fall general election. We reject the measures and expect that there will be litigation coming forward to oppose them. However, legal challenges would not be necessary if Governor Walker does not sign them – and we urge him to accept the will of Wisconsin voters and NOT sign them into law. The post-election session legislation includes reducing early voting from six weeks to two weeks, giving lawmakers additional control of the state agency overseeing job creation; reducing the governor’s ability to write state rules and adjust public benefits programs; and allowing lawmakers to replace the attorney general with private attorneys at taxpayer expense. The early voting limit (similar to one struck down by a federal judge in 2016) would be especially harmful for Milwaukee residents. Milwaukeeans have embraced early voting and the opportunity it provides for making their voices heard and being engaged in local, regional and state-wide concerns. In the November election there were 36,659 total early votes cast in Milwaukee, meaning the number of early votes cast in the City of Milwaukee for the 2018 midterm election was more than double the total number of 15,300 early votes cast in the 2014 midterm (a whopping 140% increase over 2014). We believe that is called success and catering to the desires and will of the people. We also believe the provisions just passed are meant to marginalize Milwaukee and keep entrenched legislators in Madison insulated and protected from the effects of the election. That is called unfair and undemocratic. Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs, Alderman Ashanti Hamilton, Alderman Michael J. Murphy, Alderman Jóse G. Pérez, Alderman Khalif J. Rainey, Alderman Terry L. Witkowski, Alderman Nik Kovac, Alderman Mark A. Borkowski, Alderman Cavalier Johnson, Alderman Robert J. Bauman, Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II, and Alderwoman Nikiya Dodd

“This morning, fresh of an election defeat, the Republican-controlled legislature voted to subvert the will of the people. The effects of this vote will be felt for years to come. Never before in Wisconsin’s 170 year history has an extraordinary session been used in such a cold, calculated way in order to usurp the power of duly elected constitutional officers. It is particularly disturbing that legislative Republicans would chose to poison the well of bipartisanship before duly elected officials are allowed to take office. What the Republicans have done is terribly short-sighted and will leave a permanent stain on their and our state’s legacy. It is unfortunate, that by refusing to recognize the voice of the people, they have broken Wisconsin Government. It will be all of our neighbors who suffer for years to come. Wisconsinites went to the polls in record midterm numbers and voted for change on November 6th. They responded to the people by essentially appointing the losing side as Attorney General. Now unelected, unaccountable private lawyers can potentially usurp any federal case from the duly elected Attorney General. We have a rich American history of peaceful transfer of power for the good of the people. This morning, Republicans instead decided to burn the house down on their way out the door.”Chris Larson, Wisconsin State Senator

“Voters sent Tony Evers and Josh Kaul to Madison with a clear mandate. Their election should have triggered a peaceful transition of power; instead, Wisconsin Republicans have disgraced the state in a midnight legislative session more befitting of a strong man dictatorship than the United States of America. The legislators who engineered this coup retained the majority of the legislature, despite getting fewer overall votes than the Democrats, due to highly gerrymandered district lines. Their actions amount to a smash and grab hijacking of the voters’ will. This power grab is a direct threat to our state’s democracy. As Wisconsinites, we must stand strong in the face of greed and intolerance to overcome this period of darkness and begin our return to Wisconsin’s progressive roots.” Gwen Moore, U.S. Congresswoman

“Over nine hours after the scheduled start of session on December 4, 2018 for the State Assembly’s lame-duck extraordinary session, the body was finally called to order at 10:00 p.m. Hours later, the Assembly stood in recess from 1:00 a.m. – 4:30 a.m. At 4:30 a.m. this morning, session was called to order again. As a deliberative body elected to represent our constituents – the public – we must work together and be transparent. The process in which these pieces of legislation were drafted, introduced, and provided to the public for input was neither transparent nor right. November 6th was a great election for Wisconsin, but it was overshadowed by an attempted power grab. Yesterday’s legislation was put forward in an incredibly rushed fashion. Republican leaders held closed-door meetings to draft proposals to take away the power of Governor-Elect Evers and Attorney General-Elect Kaul, among other law changes. This morning, I voted against each of these proposals. I sincerely thank all of my constituents and fellow citizens of Wisconsin for your calls and emails to my colleagues and I. We work on your behalf. I thank you for your incredible engagement at this important time in our State’s history.” Evan Goyke, Wisconsin State Representative

“If I was on the losing end of an election that saw my party lose every state wide election this past November, I’d reexamine the positions I campaigned on since a majority of the people in Wisconsin thoroughly rejected them. Astonishingly, the Republicans primary concern is to protect their own power. Instead of reevaluating the right wing ideology the voters rejected, they convened an unprecedented lame-duck session to pass bills limiting ability of the newly elected Governor and Attorney General to do their jobs and to stack state boards and commissions with handpicked cronies. Governor Elect Evers and Attorney General Elect Kaul won their elections fair and square. They deserve the opportunity to do the job the people of Wisconsin elected them to do. It is unfortunate that our local Republican legislators did not stand up to their leaders and chose to put politics before the wishes of the people who want both political parties to work together and solve the problems facing our state.” Janis Ringhand, Wisconsin State Senator

“On Monday, the Wisconsin Elections Commission certified the results of the November 6th General Election. Today, legislative Republicans nullified the results of that election and overrode Wisconsin voters. Never before in the history of our state has an Extraordinary Session been used to disregard the will of the voters and take away power from a newly elected Governor and Attorney General. The people of Wisconsin spoke on November 6th – They want a government that works together and focuses on their priorities, not a government for Republican politicians. Wisconsinites have suffered over the last eight years of Republican control, and want their roads fixed, expanded access to healthcare, and investments in their public schools – What Republicans did today makes it more difficult for our government to function, to thrive, and for the will of the people to be carried out.” Chris Taylor, Wisconsin State Representative

“In our floor debate so far today, we have heard Republican leaders repeating over and over again that they are acting to “protect” the changes to state law made under Governor Walker. What does this mean? It means that, despite thousands of Wisconsinites traveling from across the state to testify yesterday, and untold others contacting their legislators via phone, email, social media, and more, Republicans think they know better than the people of Wisconsin. Last month, Wisconsin voted for change. They voted for a government for the people, not eight more years of Republican partisan games. From last month’s election to the overwhelming constituent outreach on these bills to the amazing citizen turnout at the Joint Finance Committee last night, it is clear that the people of Wisconsin want legislative Republicans to let Governor-Elect Tony Evers do his job. In contrast, my Republican colleagues have made it clear that they don’t care that the people of Wisconsin voted for a new Governor. They are willing to change the rules when they lose, play politics for partisan gain, and undermine our democracy, instead of listening to their constituents.” Greta Neubauer, Wisconsin State Representative

“This is a blatant attempt to override and disrespect the will of Wisconsin voters. Legislative Republicans need to stop putting politics before people and should work together with the incoming administration on the problems facing our state. Encompassing nearly 300 pages of text, Assembly Republican Speaker Robin Vos released four new proposals at 4:30 PM on Friday, November 30. The Joint Finance Committee then called for a committee hearing the following Monday and a vote of the entire assembly was scheduled for Tuesday (December 4). Drafting files indicate that Robin Vos began drafting these proposals a week after Democrats won every single statewide election on Nov. 6th. The people said loud and clear on November 6th that it’s time for a change. There are many things in these bills that are bad, but the central issue is that Republicans lost the only elections conducted outside of gerrymandered districts and are now trying to override the will of the people. We have checks and balances for a reason, and this attempted subversion of the voters shows why those checks and balances are more important than ever.” Mark Spreitzer, Wisconsin State Representative

“Wisconsin Republicans have gone too far and people from both sides of the aisle have made that clear by flooding their offices with calls and emails. The fact that they couldn’t get done everything they wanted is a win for those who believe in democracy and my Democratic colleagues who refused to give in to these corrupt tactics. I look forward to when these measures are found unconstitutional and our state can get past this low moment in our history. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to continue to call the governor’s office at (608) 266-1212 to make their voices heard.”David Bowen, Wisconsin State Representative

“Wisconsin voters made it very clear what they wanted on November 6 – change. When they elected a full roster of new Democratic constitutional officers this fall, they didn’t expect Republicans to override the will of the voters through lame duck legislation that limits the powers of the governor and attorney general. It’s very telling that these bills were introduced by Speaker Vos late Friday afternoon, and that he refused to testify at the public hearing two days later. They couldn’t even give us real fiscal estimates to tell us what these bills will ultimately cost our state. It could be very costly, not only to our taxpayers, but also to our democracy. These bills were drafted two weeks after the November election when Republicans lost every statewide office. This amounts to nothing more than a power-hungry move by politicians desperately trying to cling to power. They should keep their grubby hands off our democracy. I don’t believe for one second that we would have had a lame duck session to take away power from Governor Walker and Attorney General Schimel if they had been re-elected. Republicans have had complete control of all levers of state government for eight years, with every opportunity to enact these changes. The record turnout in the midterm election underscored one message: voters want us to work together to fix our roads, protect and expand access to healthcare, and invest in education – not waste our time and taxpayer money on this abuse of power. If this lame duck session were truly meant to advance the best interests of the people of Wisconsin, we would not have seen delay after delay of the start time, to the point that voting took place overnight, at times when most of the public were sleeping. The people of Wisconsin need to know that we absolutely heard them at the ballot box and in their testimony in opposition to this lame duck extraordinary session. While the politicians who gerrymandered themselves into office might not be listening, I hear you loud and clear. We owe it to our constituents to do our jobs and put people before politics, and I encourage my Republican colleagues to work with us to improve the lives of our constituents.” Katrina Shankland, Wisconsin State Representative

© Photo

Darren Hauck