After 4pm on Friday, November 30, the Republican Legislature released bills (listed below) and called for committee hearings the following Monday. This extraordinary lame duck session was held before the Joint Finance Committee then followed by votes from the WI State Senate and Assembly on Tuesday to pass the bills. As a brief summary, the lame duck bills aim is to:
- Limit where Federal funds can be used thus potentially preventing WI from receiving their fair share of Federal Transportation funds.
- Lower wages by avoiding federal prevailing wage laws on many state projects
- At a cost of about $7 million, create a second needless spring election to avoid the Democratic Presidential Primary vote to occur on the same day as a Walker-appointed Supreme Court Justice election
- Change Unemployment Insurance rules that apply to union members in a hiring hall
- Change early in-person voting rules that contradicts a 2016 U.S. District Court for Western Wisconsin decision
- Strip the new administration’s authority over Capitol police
- Eliminate a long-standing court precedent to defer to agency’s interpretation of law
- Burden and obstruct the new governor’s ability to set administrative rules
- Burden and bury the new administration’s cabinet and agencies in reporting requirements to the Legislature
- Eliminates the Solicitor General’s office which was created in 2015 to defend laws like Right to Work and gerrymandering. Incoming Attorney General Josh Kaul will not have a similar litigation team that he could use to defend working families’ interests.
- If any person or party sues the State alleging that a law is unconstitutional, then the Assembly, the Senate, and/or the Joint Committee on Legislative Organization can intervene in the lawsuit through the private attorney(s) of their choice and not be defended by the Attorney General whose job it is to defend the State in lawsuits. There is no cap on these private attorney fees.
- Reduces the Attorney General’s decision-making ability regarding monetary settlements the state receives from litigation settlements.
- Strips the Governor’s ability to settle or discontinue a lawsuit.
Although the bills did pass the Senate and Assembly, and the thought of Walker not actually signing these into law is futile, it should not stop of from having our voices heard. Everybody is encouraged to contact outgoing Governor Walker’s office to tell him to veto all the bills passed in this extraordinary session.
Office of the Governor
PO Box 7863
Madison, WI 53707
(608) 266 – 1212
Below are the names of the bills for reference:
- Legislative Powers and Duties, State Agency and Authority Composition and Operations, and Administrative Rule Making (AB 1070 / Draft Bill 6076)
- State and Local Highway Projects, Expenditure of Transportation Moneys Received from the Federal Government, Determining a Reduction in Individual Income Tax Rates; and Election of Pass-Through Entities to be Taxed at the Entity Level (AB 1069 / Draft Bill 6075)
- Moving the Presidential Primary to the Second Tuesday in March; Applying for an Absentee Ballot in-Person, and Absentee Ballots Cast by Overseas and Military Voters (AB 1071 / Draft Bill 6077)
- Federal Government Waivers, Public Assistance Programs, Unemployment Insurance Law Changes, Granting Rulemaking Authority, Making an Appropriation (AB 1072 / Draft Bill 6078)
- Legislative Powers and Duties, State Agency and Authority Composition and Operations, Administrative Rule Making, Federal Governmental Waivers and Approvals, Unemployment Insurance Work Search and Registration Requirements, and Making an Appropriation (AB 1073 / Draft Bill 6079)