GOP-led Michigan Senate to vote on bill to strip Dem's power

07 December, 2018, 17:16 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • E.J. Dionne Are Republicans abandoning democracy

Republicans who control Michigan's Legislature voted Wednesday to advance a measure that strips campaign-finance oversight power from the Democratic secretary of state-elect, and they moved to give lawmakers authority to stand up for GOP-backed laws if they think the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general are not adequately defending the state's interests.

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Evers says Republicans are ignoring the will of voters.

Early Wednesday, the Wisconsin Senate approved legislation that will weaken the governing abilities of incoming Democrats Gov. -elect Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul.

Republican Governor Scott Walker has indicated he will sign the bills before leaving office at the end of December, though his office said on Thursday he was reviewing the legislation. The sponsor, Rep. Rob VerHeulen of Walker, said it would simply let the Legislature intervene without the court approval that it now needs, regardless of which party is in power. Tammy Baldwin, the Democrat incumbent.

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Paul Ryan speaks inside the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, Dec. 3, 2018 in Washington.

The bills on Walker's desk would weaken the state's executive branch at precisely the time Democrats are set to reclaim it after almost a decade on the outs.

"We have allowed far too much authority to flow to the executive", Vos said. "Walker and I'd be open to looking at that to see if there are areas we should change that", Vos told reporters.

But before she even takes office next month, her duty to oversee Michigan's campaign finance system could be gone _ stripped if a new Republican-sponsored bill is enacted into law. "We don't trust Tony Evers right now in a lot of these areas".

Greg Magarian, professor of law at the School of Law, doesn't see any constitutional roadblocks to recent movements by the Wisconsin and Michigan Republican-majority legislatures created to limit power of newly elected Democratic governors.

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Secretary of State-elect Jocelyn Benson ran on a platform of election transparency, so the legislature basically changed the rules so that that is no longer included in her job description.

The changes would also have a big impact on how the state's schools are managed.

Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes will take office after an inauguration ceremony on January 7.

Over 350,000 Michiganders signed petitions to place the initiatives on November's ballot, an effort rendered moot when they were passed by the legislature. All of this has been pushed through in only the last few days.

Michigan's secretary of state is responsible for enforcing the campaign finance law and issuing binding declaratory rulings related to political spending.

Democrats question the timing and counter that the legislation is an unconstitutional overreach.

The bill would limit the governor's ability to put in place administrative rules that enact laws and give the Legislature the power to control appointees to the board that runs the state economic development agency until September 1. They've also voted for legislation that would undermine the new attorney general, allowing Legislature, House or Senate "to intervene in any suit at any stage".

The power to withdraw Wisconsin from a lawsuit challenging the federal health care law would rest with a legislative committee, rather than the attorney general.

The incoming Democratic governor has already threatened a lawsuit over this move.

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