Wis­con­sin GOP OKs bills strip­ping gov­er­nor’s clout

The Modesto Bee - - News - BY MITCH SMITH New York Times

Af­ter a ran­corous, sleep­less night of de­bate, Re­pub­li­can law­mak­ers early Wed­nes­day pushed through a sweep­ing set of bills that will limit the power of Wis­con­sin’s newly elected Democrats, in­clud­ing the in­com­ing gov­er­nor and at­tor­ney gen­eral.

The leg­is­la­tion, which Democrats ve­he­mently op­posed and protesters chanted their anger over, passed through the Re­pub­li­can-held state Leg­is­la­ture af­ter hours of closed-door meet­ings and some amend­ments. The votes fell largely along party lines; no Democrats sup­ported the mea­sures.

“That’s what this is about: power-hun­gry politi­cians us­ing their grubby hands in their last-ditch ef­fort to des­per­ately cling to power,” said state Rep. Ka­t­rina Shank­land, a Demo­crat, be­fore the vote Wed­nes­day morn­ing. “All we’ve seen demon­strated to­day and over the past few days is a con­tempt for the pub­lic.”

The fight over power in Madison came af­ter Re­pub­li­cans, who have con­trolled the state for the last eight years, lost the of­fices of gov­er­nor and at­tor­ney gen­eral dur­ing the midterm elec­tions. Tony Evers, a Demo­crat, de­feated Scott Walker, a two-term gov­er­nor who drew na­tional at­ten­tion with a brief run for pres­i­dent.

Re­pub­li­cans ex­plained the moves to limit the au­thor­ity of the gov­er­nor as part of a long-needed change in the bal­ance of power, which they said had be­come tilted in fa­vor of the ex­ec­u­tive branch. Robin Vos, the speaker of the As­sem­bly, ac­cused Democrats of fan­ning hys­te­ria and over­stat­ing the ef­fects of the bills.

“You are so grossly ex­ag­ger­at­ing the words of this bill it makes me sick,” Vos said.

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