Author: Will Kenneally
STATE CAPITOL — Protesters gathered on the Capitol steps to criticize a slate of bills the state legislature is taking up in a lame duck session.
The bills take certain powers away from the offices of governor and attorney general, limiting the governor’s ability to appoint members to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and for the state attorney general to remove Wisconsin from a lawsuit that challenges the Affordable Care Act. state Rep. Lisa subeck, a Democrat from Madison criticized the move.
“I would call [this] an unprecedented power grab that’s totally and completely in every way, shape and form undermines the will of the people and we will not stand for that,” Subeck said.
The slate of proposals include a change to Wisconsin’s early voting laws that would eliminate a week of early voting. Scot Ross, the executive director of the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, says the move is similar a bill that was struck down by a federal judge in 2016.
“Make no mistake, an attack on early voting and our voter rights, is attack on every single person in the state of Wisconsin–whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat,” Ross said.
In addition to eliminating some early voting dates, the lame duck bills would change when Wisconsin votes in the presidential primary. Currently the presidential primary vote coincides with the spring general election–when Wisconsinites vote for nonpartisan offices such as mayor. Republicans say the partisan primary should be separated from the nonpartisan vote to prevent confusion among voters. Democrats charge the move would depress turnout in an effort to help conservative-leaning state Supreme Court justice Daniel Kelly who is on the ballot in 2020.
“Republicans will do whatever they need to do to elect a Republican Supreme Court justice,” said Lydia Hester, a student-activist from Madison East High School.
Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette evoked the 2011 Act 10 protests. which drew thousands to the Capitol square to protest collective bargaining legislation at the beginning of the Walker administration. La Follette called on protesters to turn out in similar force as the legislature considers the lame duck package.
“Tomorrow I want to see thousands as we did it on Act 10…we need five thousand, six thousand to come here and take our Capitol back,” La Follette said.
The legislation is expected to pass out of committee Monday night, and will be considered by the full legislature on Tuesday.