Wednesday, December 05, 2018

What The Wisconsin Republicans Did This Morning Will Backfire-- Bigly!


Call me crazy but I think Wisconsin Republicans made a big strategic boo-boo last night and this morning. The Republican legislators worked all night and into this morning in their lame duck session and, despite protests, internal disagreement and Democratic opposition both Houses of the state legislature passed a package of proposals designed to fuck Democratic voters and empower the GOP-controlled Legislature at the expense of the incoming all-Democratic executive branch. Governor-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul warned them that the ensuing lawsuits will tie the state up in gridlock. (Keep in mind that in the popular vote in legislative elections last month in Wisconsin, Democrats won 53-45% but, entirely because of Republican gerrymandering, Democrats only won 36% of the seats in the Assembly-- 53% of the vote but 36% of the seats.)

Just after midnight, the Assembly enacted a venal Medicaid work requirement that would prevent Evers from withdrawing a federal waiver request to implement the work requirement and require new legislative oversight of gubernatorial waiver requests related to health care. In the Senate, backroom deal making led to this morning's vote to weaken the governor’s power to put administrative rules enacting state laws in place. The legislature, not the governor, would have the majority of appointments on the state’s economic development agency that Evers has said he wants to dismantle. The Republican bill also restricts early voting to no more than two weeks before an election and gives the legislature-- not the attorney general-- the power to withdraw Wisconsin from the Texas lawsuit challenging the federal health care law that protects people with pre-existing conditions.

The state Senate passed this package of steaming shit 17-16, all Democrats plus one Republican, Rob Cowles of Green Bay, voting against it. Democratic state Senator Chris Larson, who represents a suburban district south of Milwaukee told me just moments ago that "This morning, fresh off an election defeat, the Republican-controlled legislature voted to subvert the will of the people. The effects of this vote will be felt for years to come. Never before in Wisconsin’s 170 year history has an extraordinary session been used in such a cold, calculated way in order to usurp the power of duly elected constitutional officers. It is particularly disturbing that legislative Republicans would chose to poison the well of bipartisanship before duly elected officials are allowed to take office."

Larson-- like DWT-- sees the potential damage these moves will do not just to the state, but to the Republican Party itself, where independent voters are looking at it in disgust. "What the Republicans have done is terribly short-sighted and will leave a permanent stain on their and our state’s legacy," he continued. "It is unfortunate, that by refusing to recognize the voice of the people, they have broken Wisconsin Government. It will be all of our neighbors who suffer for years to come. Wisconsinites went to the polls in record midterm numbers and voted for change on November 6th. They responded to the people by essentially appointing the losing side as Attorney General. Now unelected, unaccountable private lawyers can potentially usurp any federal case from the duly elected Attorney General. We have a rich American history of peaceful transfer of power for the good of the people. This morning, Republicans instead decided to burn the house down on their way out the door."

Ari Berman, writing for Mother Jones, put the Republican Party racist assault on voting rights into a cohesive national context.
The 2018 election saw historic victories for voting rights. Seven states passed ballot initiatives that will make it easier to vote and harder to gerrymander. And some of the biggest cheerleaders for restricting access to the ballot, such as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, lost their gubernatorial races.

But now Republicans in four key swing states-- Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and North Carolina-- are undertaking unprecedented efforts in lame-duck legislative sessions to strip newly elected Democratic officials of their power to oversee state voting laws and rushing to pass new laws that will make it harder to vote.

...Currently, Wisconsin counties can decide when to begin the early voting period. Democratic cities like Madison and Milwaukee began early voting six weeks before the election in 2018 and saw record turnout. The new bill would limit the early voting period to just two weeks across Wisconsin.

The new effort to cut early voting is similar to a previous law that was struck down by a federal court. In 2014, Wisconsin’s Legislature cut early voting from 30 days to 12, reduced early voting hours on nights and weekends, and restricted early voting to one location per municipality, hampering voters in large urban areas. A federal judge ruled in 2016 that the early voting cuts “intentionally discriminate on the basis of race” and had been passed “to suppress the reliably Democratic vote of Milwaukee’s African Americans.”

After the law was overturned, jurisdictions in Wisconsin, particularly in places like Madison and Milwaukee, expanded early voting locations and hours, leading to record turnout in 2016 and 2018. Democrats have pledged to sue if the new law is passed by the Legislature on Tuesday.

The new bill would also prevent Evers from making the state’s voter ID law less restrictive by barring him from expanding the types of IDs Wisconsinites can use to vote. The law, which first went into effect in 2016, led to a sharp decrease in black voter turnout in the last presidential election. A study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that the ID requirement kept as many as 23,000 people from voting in two of the state’s most Democratic counties, Milwaukee County and Madison’s Dane County, with African Americans more than three times as likely as whites to be deterred from voting. President Donald Trump won the state by that very margin. “It is very probable,” Milwaukee’s top election official, Neil Albrecht, told Mother Jones last year, that “enough people were prevented from voting to have changed the outcome of the presidential election in Wisconsin.”

The GOP bill would also move the state’s 2020 presidential primary from April to March, while keeping the state Supreme Court election in April. A lower turnout in the court race would likely benefit Republicans and help them keep their majority on the court.

...Republican efforts to strip Democrats of power during lame-duck legislative sessions originated in North Carolina in 2016. Following the election of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper in 2016, the Republican-led Legislature passed a series of bills to reduce his power, which included preventing the governor from appointing a majority of members to the state board of elections and 100 county boards of elections.

Now the North Carolina Legislature is at it again. It originally passed a voter ID law in 2013 that the federal courts said targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.” After that law was struck down in court, the Republican Legislature put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2018 requiring government-issued photo ID to vote. It passed with 60 percent support on Election Day, but because Republicans lost their legislative supermajority in 2018, they’re rushing to pass a bill implementing the amendment in the lame-duck session so Cooper will be unable to veto it.

Republicans in all four of these states owe their majorities partly to extreme partisan gerrymandering. Ohio Republicans barely got 50 percent of the vote in last month’s elections, but hold a supermajority in the Legislature, while Republicans in Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina got a minority of votes but control a majority of seats. Now, by stripping power from Democratic officials who won a majority of votes and enacting laws making it harder to vote, they are further enshrining minority rule.
Just back from Berniepalooza, Randy Bryce was busy all day and all night yesterday. This morning, he told me that he "had the opportunity to testify in opposition to the power grab. First words out of my mouth was that this isn’t a bill, it’s a coup. The Republicans need to answer one very simple question. If this was so badly needed, why did they wait until after the election to write it? We are witnessing a very sad time in our state’s history. They are literally doing this in the middle of the night."

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At 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Considering the sorry record of the cheesehead democraps during the Snott Walker years, I don't expect that there will be much retreat from the positions the ReputzliKKKans have staked out. One doesn't confront assault weapons with plastic butter knives and win.

At 6:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Delusion. the WI Nazis have been doing this very thing for a decade. The voters don't force any remedies. The WI democraps don't reverse it.

At 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This power grab is so naked, it should be x-rated!


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