Walker signs bills to weaken Dem successor in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Friday signed a package of legislation that will take powers away from his Democratic successor and the state’s incoming Democratic attorney general.

Walker signed legislation that would limit the next governor’s authority to withdraw the state from a lawsuit challenging ObamaCare. Another bill gives the legislature control of the state’s economic development authority, and a third would give the legislature the authority to hire its own attorneys to defend state laws.

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Gov.-elect Tony Evers (D) promised during the campaign to drop out of the lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act and spearheaded by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R). He also said he would mothball the Economic Development Corporation.

Walker also signed a measure limiting Wisconsin early voting to two weeks before Election Day. Some counties in Wisconsin, especially Democratic bastions such as Milwaukee and Dane County, hold early voting days for longer than two weeks.

“These bills don’t fundamentally change the power not just of the next governor but any governor thereafter,” Walker said at a press conference in Green Bay.

Evers beat Walker by a slim margin in November’s midterm elections. Democrats said the measures, passed after an all-night session on party-line votes last week, were sour grapes meant to weaken the incoming Democratic administration.

“Republicans are defiant and desperate in the wake of a new Democratic governor and attorney general,” state Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling said in a statement. “Rather than putting the election behind us and working with Gov.-elect Evers to improve health care, strengthen schools and fix our roads, Republican leaders have tightened their fists on more power.”

Walker said he remained empowered to act because his term does not end until next month. He said that unlike when he took office, when he asked then-Gov. Jim Doyle (D) to delay acting on some legislation, Republicans will remain in control of the legislature.

“The will of the voters four years ago was to elect me to a term that ends Jan. 7,” Walker said Friday. “I am the governor of the state of Wisconsin until Tony Evers takes the oath of office on Jan. 7, 2019.”

Walker did not mention that he vetoed a similar effort by legislators to reclaim some power last year.

In his waning days in office, Walker also moved to give at least one other victim of the Democratic wave a lifeline. He said in November he would appoint Attorney General Brad Schimel (R), who also lost his seat in November, to a judgeship in Waukesha County.