MADISON, Wis. - Gov. Scott Walker signed three lame-duck bills in their entirety during an event Friday afternoon in Green Bay.
Walker said several days ago that he planned to line-item veto the legislation, but on Friday, he said he no longer planned to do that. The bills strip powers from the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general and limit early voting in Wisconsin.
"I'm happy with the legacy we'll leave in the state of Wisconsin," @GovWalker said during an event where he signed the lame-duck bills into law.— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) December 14, 2018
He continued, "These bills don't change that legacy." #news3
The measures restrict early in-person voting to two weeks before an election. The legislation gives Republicans control of the state jobs creation agency, blocks Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers from withdrawing Wisconsin from a multistate lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act.
The bills also eliminate the state Justice Department's solicitor general's office and allow legislators to intervene in state lawsuits, ensuring they can defend Republican policies if Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul won't.
Democrats and some Republicans encouraged Walker to veto the measures to avoid tarnishing his legacy after he leaves office. Walker dismissed those comments and said the bills guaranteed transparency.
"I'm happy with the legacy we'll leave in the state of Wisconsin," Walker said.
He continued, "These bills don't change that legacy."
Gov.-elect Tony Evers held a news conference Friday shortly after the bill signing condemning the bills.
"This legislation was created without accountability and transparency," Evers said. "The will of the people was ignored."
In a statement before his news conference, Evers also sent a statement saying that a governor should put the will of people of Wisconsin first.
"The people demanded a change on November 6th, and they asked us to solve problems, not pick petty, political fights," Evers said in the statement.
Kaul called the signed bills "stunningly bad" but isn't saying if he'll challenge the changes in court. Evers said he's reviewing his options and will do everything he can to ensure the people of the state aren't overlooked or ignored. He didn't elaborate and quickly left the news conference after five minutes without answering any questions.
A group run by former Democratic U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says it plans legal action to block the limitation on early voting in Wisconsin.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald joined Walker in Green Bay for the event signing the bills.
Speaker Robin Vos released a statement thanking the governor for signing the Republican legislation.
"As Democrats and the media continue to inflate these laws into something they’re not, Assembly Republicans are focusing on the new legislative session and will work to find common ground in divided government," Vos said.
Senate Bills 883, 884 and 886 became Acts 368, 369 and 370 respectively.
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