By State Representative, Leon D. Young
Last week, I began my article by asserting that “elections have consequences.” However, the reality of that declaration clearly is not shared by all. In the wake of Tony Evers narrowly defeating Republican Governor Scott Walker, Republican lawmakers have already met privately to discuss ways they could limit the incoming Democratic governor before he takes office.
This brazen attempt to hamstring the governor-elect is being orchestrated by none other than the Republican leadership, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. The Majority Leader has attempted to downplay what Republicans were considering, saying they were primarily focused on making sure the rules for how some laws are enforced wouldn’t be changed, including the state’s voter photo ID requirement.
More specifically, Fitzgerald indicated that Republicans would look to limit the governor’s authority over the process of enacting rules designed to carry out laws the Legislature passes. The Legislature increased Walker’s authority over that process shortly after he took office in 2011. Republicans have been in complete control of the Legislature and governor’s office since that year.
It’s ironic, but not surprising, that the GOP would suddenly feel “compelled” to rein in the authority of the state’s chief executive, now that its political party no longer controls that branch of state government. In truth, Republicans are ghastly afraid of losing the ability to maintain their legislative stranglehold. And, because of the governor’s substantial veto power, Evers would be able to keep the Legislature in check.
Republicans are currently strategizing for the lame duck session, which legislative leaders called at Walker’s request during the campaign. Initially, this session was supposed to be exclusively about approving a $100 million tax break bill for paper products giant Kimberly-Clark Corp; an incentive package designed to save a Fox Crossing plant that employs about 500 people. However, Republicans still don’t have the votes to pass it and its future is uncertain.
But now, the upcoming session will probably include measures to undermine the new governor’s appointment power and to codify certain state rules into law. It remains to be seen whether the outgoing governor (Walker) will go along with this outrageous attempt to restrict his successor, or will he exhibit some degree of reverence for the executive branch, by choosing to protect the powers of the office?
As we saw again in last Tuesday’s elections, Wisconsin’s partisan gerrymandering, the most egregious in the nation, continues to systematically dilute the voting strength of Democratic voters by impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats. For all practical purposes, this nefarious gerrymandering system has allowed Republicans to maintain their dominion over the Legislature by allowing them to choose their voters, rather than the electorate making the choice.
But a new day may be on the horizon, Republicans understand the governor-elect will have a major say in the state’s next redistricting plan following the 2020 U.S. census. Hence, it becomes imperative that they curtail Evers’ gubernatorial authority before he has an opportunity to interfere with their ability to gerrymander legislative districts to their advantage.
However, one thing remains a constant. There is no end to the GOP’s shameful arrogance and their obsession to win at any cost.