Republicans lost elections in Wisconsin and Michigan — but before leaving office, they’re trying to limit the powers of incoming Democratic governors.
Gov. Scott Walker was ousted last month in Wisconsin after voters chose Democrat Tony Evers, and Michigan voters elected Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, and each state also elected Democrats as attorney general.
But GOP lawmakers in both states are trying to strip them of some of their powers before they’re inaugurated with a series of bills they’re rushing through in lame duck sessions.
Wisconsin Republicans announced a package of bills Friday, which state lawmakers will debate Monday in a single hearing before voting Tuesday.
The bills would move the date of Wisconsin’s presidential primary to encourage lower turnout — which Democrats say is aimed at protecting a far-right state Supreme Court justice who’s up for re-election — and replace the attorney general with private lawyers chosen by GOP lawmakers in cases that involve state laws.
That would prevent newly elected Democratic attorney general Josh Kaul from challenging GOP gerrymandering.
Republicans also want to block Evers from fulfilling his campaign pledge to withdraw from a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act.
Michigan’s GOP majority is also seeking to undo some of their losses after Democrats won races for governor, attorney general and secretary of state for the first time in nearly 30 years.
A House bill would allow the legislature to intervene in legal battles involving the state, and a Senate bill would shift oversight of the state’s campaign finance law to a new “fair political practices commission.”
Attorney general-elect Dana Nessel said during her winning campaign that she might not defend state laws she views as unconstitutional, including a 2015 law that allows faith-based adoption agencies to refuse service to gay people.
The GOP bill would give lawmakers the authority to take any action that plaintiffs or defendants are able to do, such as appeal decisions or apply for new hearings.
Republicans also seek to strip Jocelyn Benson, the incoming secretary of state, of a key responsibility to oversee campaign finance laws.
The Senate bill would create a new state panel that would include three members from each political party that would be appointed by the governor.
Similar efforts by North Carolina Republicans eventually failed after a costly court fight.