Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature passed legislation early Wednesday to weaken the power of the incoming Democratic governor, a move critics and Democrats said amounted to a naked power grab that subverts the will of voters.
The legislation consolidates power in the legislature and strips it from Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, both Democrats. While Republicans lost all statewide seats in last month’s midterm elections, they retained majorities in both houses of the legislature, a result that Democrats said was achieved by gerrymandering.
Amid a throng of protesters, the legislature stayed in session all night to pass the bills, which will make it harder for Evers and Kaul to enact their proposed agendas. The state Senate approved the legislative package 17 to 16, and the Assembly passed it 56 to 27.
As a result of last month’s elections, Republicans picked up a seat in the state Senate, which they will control with a 19-to-14 majority, and lost one seat in the Assembly, where they will enjoy a 63-36 advantage.
Outgoing Gov. Scott Walker (R) has telegraphed his support for the legislation, which he has 10 days to sign. Evers, the state schools superintendent who bested Walker by more than 29,000 votes in last month’s election, has sharply criticized the efforts that he said “pushed aside” Wisconsin values so lawmakers could “usurp and cling to power.”
“Wisconsin has never seen anything like this,” Evers said in a statement released Wednesday. “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