Highlights of bills passed by Wisconsin Republicans
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Republican lawmakers on Wednesday passed a series of bills to weaken the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general. Highlights of the sweeping legislation, which was approved in the lame-duck legislative session:
— Limit early voting to no more than two weeks before an election.
— Give the Legislature’s budget committee, rather than the attorney general, the power to withdraw the state from lawsuits. That would prevent Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul from withdrawing Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act.
— Give Republicans in the Legislature the majority of appointments to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the state’s quasi-private job-creation agency that Evers wants to reorganize. Evers would also be barred from replacing the leader of the agency until Sept. 1, at which point the number of appointments Evers and Democratic lawmakers can make would be equal to legislative Republicans.
— Require state health officials to implement a federal waiver allowing Wisconsin to require childless adults under age 50 to work in order to receive health insurance through the BadgerCare Plus program. The legislation prevents Evers from seeking to withdraw the waiver request.
— Eliminate the attorney general’s solicitor general office. The office currently handles some of the highest-profile and most political lawsuits.
— Require all settlement money the attorney general wins to go to the state’s general fund rather than the state Justice Department.
— Prohibit judges from giving greater weight to state agencies’ interpretations of laws in court challenges. That change could make it easier to win lawsuits challenging environmental regulations.
— Require the governor to get permission from the Legislature before asking for changes in programs run jointly by the state and federal governments, limiting the governor’s authority to run public benefits programs.
— Reduce income tax rates next year to offset about $60 million in online sales taxes from out-of-state retailers.
— Require the governor to get permission from the Legislature before he could ban guns in the state Capitol.
— Require state agencies to file quarterly spending reports.
— Lawmakers did not pass three proposals that were originally part of the package: moving the 2020 presidential primary election; allowing Republican legislative leaders to intervene in lawsuits and hire their own attorneys, pushing aside the attorney general; and instituting a state-level guarantee of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions that would have been weaker than the one in place under federal law.