Walker con­sid­ers fast-track lame-duck leg­is­la­tion

Gov­er­nor ex­pected to curb pow­ers of Evers

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Front Page - Pa­trick Mar­ley

MADI­SON - Gov. Scott Walker could be go­ing out like he came in — by con­sid­er­ing sprawl­ing, fun­da­men­tal changes to state law with lit­tle pub­lic no­tice.

The out­go­ing Re­pub­li­can gov­er­nor in­tro­duced what be­came known as Act 10 to cur­tail ben­e­fits and col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing for pub­lic work­ers shortly af­ter he was sworn in in 2011.

He made the move with­out telling vot­ers about it first and de­scribed the strat­egy soon after­ward as “drop­ping the bomb” in what he thought was a pri­vate phone call with a prankster pos­ing as power-donor David Koch.

Now, Walker is sig­nal­ing he will sign lame-duck leg­is­la­tion that would curb the au­thor­ity of his Demo­cratic suc­ces­sor, weaken the in­com­ing Demo­cratic at­tor­ney gen­eral and pare back early vot­ing.

Walker has the abil­ity to sign or veto the leg­is­la­tion — or re­shape it by rewrit­ing it us­ing his line-item veto pow­ers.

The lame-duck leg­is­la­tion was made pub­lic late Fri­day and passed by both houses Wed­nes­day af­ter an all­night ses­sion.

Re­grets af­ter Act 10

The rocket-fast leg­isla­tive ap­proach is one Walker said he re­gret­ted af­ter Act 10 be­came law.

“What I hear is even peo­ple who

kind of ap­pre­ci­ate what’s been done still oc­ca­sion­ally will say, ‘Yeah, but you should have told us more about why you were go­ing to do (that),’ and I can see that,” Walker said in De­cem­ber 2011. “The mis­take was I should have done more of that. I should have laid it out.”

He made the same point in his 2013 book, “Un­in­tim­i­dated: A Gov­er­nor’s Story and a Na­tion’s Chal­lenge.”

“While I did not apol­o­gize, I did ac­knowl­edge a crit­i­cal er­ror I made, which was not prop­erly pre­par­ing the peo­ple of Wis­con­sin for our re­forms,” he wrote. “I was so ea­ger to fix the prob­lems we faced, I did not do enough to ex­plain to peo­ple what they were or why our so­lu­tions were the right course. I’ve learned from that ex­pe­ri­ence and ap­plied those les­sons when an­nounc­ing sub­se­quent re­forms.”

He in­deed took that ap­proach in the fol­low­ing years, hold­ing news con­fer­ences to talk about why he sup­ported leg­is­la­tion to use pub­lic funds to help build the Mil­wau­kee Bucks arena and over­haul the state’s civil ser­vice laws.

But in this case, he hasn’t gone that route.

Walker spokesman Tom Even­son said the com­par­i­son to Act 10 was “ridicu­lous” be­cause the ar­chi­tects of the lame-duck leg­is­la­tion were Assem­bly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester and other Re­pub­li­can law­mak­ers, not Walker.

But Walker’s staff was closely in­volved with craft­ing the bills, ac­cord­ing to Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Scott Fitzger­ald.

“Chief of staff Eric Schutt has been a big part of all of those dis­cus­sions,” the Juneau Re­pub­li­can said Mon­day. “Again, I think the gov­er­nor came up with some ideas on how things should be han­dled. Cer­tainly, there’s been a give and take, so I’m very com­fort­able that at the end of the day the gov­er­nor is go­ing to be fine sign­ing some of this.”

Demo­crat Tony Evers, who beat Walker last month and will be sworn in Jan. 7, is urg­ing Walker to veto the leg­is­la­tion. Evers said Thurs­day in La Crosse that his staff had re­quested a meet­ing with Walker.

Some Repub­li­cans are like­wise telling Walker he should veto the leg­is­la­tion.

Char­lie Sykes, the for­mer WTMJAM (620) ra­dio host and au­thor of the book “How the Right Lost Its Mind,” wrote in a Thurs­day col­umn in the At­lantic that Walker should veto the leg­is­la­tion.

“Sign­ing the lame-duck leg­is­la­tion would be an es­pe­cially class­less way for Walker to leave of­fice; it will tar­nish his rep­u­ta­tion in ways that I’m not sure he grasps,” Sykes wrote. “And, frankly, it’s just not worth it.”

Prom­i­nent Mil­wau­kee busi­ness­man and phi­lan­thropist Shel­don Lubar — a past Walker sup­porter — sent Walker an email Tues­day en­cour­ag­ing him to look be­yond “short-sighted machi­na­tions.” He promptly made the email pub­lic.

“I ask you not to de­stroy your rep­u­ta­tion and side with Messrs. Vos & Fitzger­ald,” he wrote. “What they are plan­ning for the Re­pub­li­can Party of Wis­con­sin will ma­lign its in­tegrity and lead to its down­fall. Worse, it will dam­age Wis­con­sin as it ig­nores the will of the ma­jor­ity of Wis­con­sin vot­ers.”

“You can have a long suc­cess­ful ca­reer ahead. Don’t stain it by this point­less, poor-loser ac­tion.”

Walker said be­fore law­mak­ers voted on the leg­is­la­tion that he was largely open to it, but he hasn’t said what he will do since then.

“For all the talk about rein­ing in power, it re­ally doesn’t,” he said Mon­day.

What­ever Walker does, it is sure to be one of the episodes he will be re­mem­bered for.

“Re­gard­less whether he likes it or not, his legacy is go­ing to be de­fined by what he does in his last cou­ple of days in of­fice,” said Demo­cratic Sen. Jon Er­pen­bach of Mid­dle­ton.

The lat­est leg­is­la­tion is mov­ing faster than Act 10.

Walker ini­tially en­vi­sioned in­tro­duc­ing and ap­prov­ing Act 10 in a week, but that plan was stymied when Se­nate Democrats fled the state to block it.

The orig­i­nal ver­sion of that bill needed three-fifths of se­na­tors to be present for the leg­is­la­tion to be taken up, and the Democrats’ ab­sence pre­vented Repub­li­cans from act­ing. They ul­ti­mately passed it — weeks later — by amend­ing it so they did not need to have as many se­na­tors on the floor.

Karen Her­zog and Mary Spicuzza of the Jour­nal Sen­tinel staff con­trib­uted to this re­port. Her­zog re­ported from La Crosse and Spicuzza from Mil­wau­kee.


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