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Walker weighing whether to sign power-stripping legislation

Posted at 6:27 PM, Dec 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-06 19:27:54-05

Gov. Scott Walker's office said Thursday he's still reviewing a series of controversial bills passed by GOP majorities in the legislature this week. 

No timeline has been provided on when Walker might sign the bills, although he previously signaled support for them. 

Republicans called the "lame-duck" session and approved proposals that shift duties and responsibilities from the offices of Governor and Attorney General to leaders in the Senate and Assembly. 

Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul are both Democrats. Republicans will still hold majorities in both chambers of the legislature during the next legislative session. 

Evers on Wednesday held a news conference in Madison urging Walker to not sign the bills. 

State Rep. Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee) said he opposed the bills because he thinks Republicans are trying to undo the results of November's election. 

Riemer said this week's "lame-duck" session might contribute to gridlock during a time of divided government after the new Governor is sworn in. 

"When you cripple the ability of the governor to do his job, and undermine the will of the voters, you make it incredibly difficult to work across the aisle," Riemer said. 

Rick Esenberg, President and General Counsel for the conservative-leaning Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, said he thinks the bills do a good job of making sure powers are equally balanced between the various branches of state government. 

"I think there are a lot of good government reforms in here," Esenberg said. "I think it's unfortunate (Republicans) waited until the end to do them, but that doesn't mean they aren't good ideas." 

Mordecai Lee, a political analyst and former Democrat in the state Assembly, said the constitution grants executive powers to the Governor. 

"This is almost like making the Wisconsin Governor's office a ceremonial office," Lee said. "Almost like Queen Elizabeth." 

Meanwhile, Lee said the Wisconsin Constitution indicates the powers of the Attorney General are determined by law. 

He thinks that means Democrats would have a more viable legal challenge to the alterations made relating to the Governor's office than to the Attorney General's job duties. 

But Lee also said he doubts the current state supreme court, which is made up primarily of conservative justices, would toss out the changes to state government that lawmakers passed this week.