In States They Lost, Some GOP Lawmakers Rush To Limit New Democrats' Power This week, Republican lawmakers in Michigan and Wisconsin have called special sessions to curb authority of newly elected statewide Democrats who pose a threat to Republicans' accomplishments.
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In States They Lost, Some GOP Lawmakers Rush To Limit New Democrats' Power

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In States They Lost, Some GOP Lawmakers Rush To Limit New Democrats' Power

In States They Lost, Some GOP Lawmakers Rush To Limit New Democrats' Power

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

After eight years of Republican control over state government in Wisconsin, voters there went a different direction and elected a Democrat as governor. Tony Evers narrowly beat out Republican Scott Walker in last month's vote. But Republicans are not dropping the reins of power quietly. Today state lawmakers meet to try to drastically limit the powers of the incoming governor. Here's Marti Mikkelson from our member station WUWM in Milwaukee.

MARTI MIKKELSON, BYLINE: On Monday, Republican lawmakers were met by angry protests inside and outside of the Wisconsin state Capitol as they held a public hearing.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Let them know that we're watching. Let them know that we will shame them for their vote. Let them know that they are...

MIKKELSON: On the agenda, a discussion of those bills that could curb the authority of the new governor. Voters reminded lawmakers that they put that new Democratic governor into office, and they don't want their will to be ignored.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Save our vote. Save our vote.

MIKKELSON: During Governor Walker's administration, Republicans easily pushed through major policy changes ranging from union limits to voter ID requirements to redistricting. In the days following Evers' win, it was clear that Wisconsin Republicans were going to fight hard to hang on to control. Here's Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SCOTT FITZGERALD: I'm not sure why there's all this discussion about, you know, we're trying to somehow undermine the new governor. That's not the case at all. I think there's some stuff that's going to be reasonable.

MIKKELSON: Fitzgerald said one item that they would take up during the lame duck would ensure that Evers wouldn't be able to modify Wisconsin's voter ID law. Another would hamstring his campaign promise to withdraw Wisconsin from a multistate federal lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act. And then there's the one that would limit early voting to two weeks before an election.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LENA TAYLOR: This is not the Wisconsin way. This is Walker's way.

MIKKELSON: Democratic State Senator Lena Taylor of Milwaukee says she was shocked when she read the bills.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TAYLOR: And the GOP - what they're doing is completely pathetic. It is such an assault on democracy.

MIKKELSON: She called the Republican tactics disgusting and says while she and other Democrats plan to vote against the legislation, she believes it's certain to pass. Meanwhile, the current governor, Walker, is signaling support for the legislation. But incoming Governor Evers says he hopes Walker would keep in mind the will of the voters.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TONY EVERS: His legacy will be tied to this. As he thinks about signing this bill - whatever ends up coming to his desk, I hope he thinks about how he could govern under those circumstances and how this will impact his legacy.

MIKKELSON: At a news conference Sunday night, Evers vowed to take any steps possible to prevent the plan to dilute his powers, including legal action. Charles Franklin is director of the Marquette Law School Poll. He says efforts by the outgoing party to cling to power are becoming a national trend.

CHARLES FRANKLIN: I think one of the things in American politics - but in Wisconsin politics as well - over the last at least 10 years is the move to emphasize winning at any cost.

MIKKELSON: Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in an interview yesterday that Republicans don't trust Tony Evers right now and the policies they enacted eight years ago must stay in place. For NPR News, I'm Marti Mikkelson in Milwaukee.

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