You have heard — and have been amply outraged by — the naked partisan power-grabbing being done by sore loser Republicans in Michigan and Wisconsin. In brief, both states saw Democrats swept statewide elections and will have Democrats entering their Governor’s Mansions in January. So before that happens, the lamest lame ducks are working to restrict the power of the executive — power they were happy to have Republican governors to wield — through tricky legislation that clearly subverts the will of the voters.
In Michigan, the GOP is also gutting the minimum wage increase it passed as a cynical way of avoiding its overwhelming — and binding — victory in a ballot initiative. The GOP is also trying to gut essential parts of the pro-voting and marijuana legalization ballot initiatives that did pass in November.
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, the GOP legislature proposed a series of bills that would limit the power of incoming Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, curtail early voting, keep the state enmeshed in the lawsuit against Obamacare, and keep far-right judges in office. They are holding a SINGLE hearing today and plan on voting on it on Tuesday. It’s unclear if they have the votes, but Madison is once again becoming a war zone.
In a statement Monday, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Black Earth, called the GOP plan “a blatant attempt to override the vote by the people of our state.”
“Wisconsin Republicans’ shameful and undemocratic last-minute attempt to override the vote of the people is more becoming of a third world dictatorship than the birthplace of Fighting Bob La Follette and it must be stopped,” Pocan said.
Meanwhile, the incoming Democratic Attorney General, Josh Kaul, is leaving open the possibility of legal action if the legislature passes this. He helped the group One Wisconsin fight early voting changes in 2016.
Sadly, this type of crap is not just happening in Michigan and Wisconsin. Outgoing Republican supermajorities in Ohio and North Carolina are also working to strangle democracy even more than they already have.
Voters in Ohio made it loud and clear earlier this year that they were sick of the insane gerrymanders that made their votes for Congress almost meaningless. In May, they passed a constitutional amendment via ballot initiative that will force lawmakers to come up with more balanced congressional district maps. This came after they passed a similar amendment for state legislative districts in 2015.
Republicans in power can’t undo those amendments, but what they can do is make it just about impossible to amend the constitution via ballot initiative ever again, so that’s what they’re doing. It’s a dirty trick that has people in the state protesting, but it could really use some national spotlight. Ballot initiatives have been a way to get progressive legislation and more democratic fairness passed in Republican-controlled states. There will be three hearings and a potential vote on HJR 19 this coming week, so this petition could use all the signatures it can get.
Meanwhile, in North Carolina, a gerrymandered state where Republican cravenness knows no end, the latest scheme is to pass the most draconian Voter ID rules possible before newly elected Democrats take office and break the GOP’s supermajority (they already cut the governor’s powers in 2016). With Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and more Democrats in the legislature, the Republicans would be forced to negotiate the particulars of the voter ID requirement passed by ballot initiative this fall (it giveth and taketh), so they want to rush in the rules before they have to show any sort of respect to their constituents.
It’ll be important to keep an eye on these lame duck sessions over the next month, because it is now clear that Republicans don’t just disregard democracy, they absolutely disdain it.