Powers of Evers and Kaul would be weakened under Republican proposals

Lawmakers to return for lame-duck session
Powers of Evers and Kaul would be weakened under Republican proposals

Republican legislative leaders’ plans for a lame-duck session would weaken the power of both the governor and the attorney general before Democrats are sworn into both positions.

“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,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a joint statement calling lawmakers to the Capitol next week for the extraordinary session.

One measure they will consider would dramatically weaken the powers of Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul. The plan would eliminate the state Department of Justice’s solicitor general’s office, which represents the state in certain cases on appeal in state and federal courts.

The proposal would require all DOJ settlement winnings to go into the state’s general fund and allow legislators to hire their own attorneys in disputes over statutes’ constitutionality and bypass the DOJ.

The lawmakers’ agenda for the lame-duck session, which was released Friday afternoon, would strip the governor of the power to appoint the CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, or WEDC.

Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers has said he would eliminate WEDC, the state’s job creation agency.

The plan would also give Republicans control of the board of WEDC.

“Our state must stay open for business. WEDC, our economic development agency, must continue to have the ability to help spur job creation and business opportunities without fear of being shut down,” Vos and Fitzgerald said.

Currently, WEDC’s board of directors has 12 voting members. Six members are appointed by the governor, three are appointed by Vos and three are appointed by Fitzgerald.

The bill would change the board to 18 voting members, with Vos and Fitzgerald each appointing five members, the minority leaders of both houses each appointing one member and the governor continuing to appoint six members.

Governor-elect Tony Evers released a statement calling the move a an attempt to “override the will of the people” by “power-hungry politicians.”

“I will not tolerate attempts to violate our constitutional checks and balances and separation of powers by people who are desperate to cling to control,” he said. “Enough is enough. Republicans have to stop putting politics before people.”

A statement from Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling called the Republicans’ attempt to limit Evers’ power “ludicrous.”

“Rather than protecting jobs, strengthening schools, and fixing our roads, Republicans want to undermine Governor-elect Evers before he takes the oath of office. This lame duck session has been a bait and switch to rush through more partisan bills, rig elections and consolidate more power in the hands of Republican politicians,” Shilling said.

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