Michigan House votes to extend legislative power

Leroy Wright
December 7, 2018

A day after Wisconsin Republicans approved a package of bills meant to restrict the powers of incoming Democratic leaders, Republican lawmakers in mi advanced a similar effort despite an outcry from Democrats.

The campaign finance commission would assume a number of responsibilities now under the purview of the state secretary of state. Walker won three elections pursuing a strongly conservative agenda, and he almost won re-election last month despite heavy Democratic turnout.

Democrats say the move is a bid to limit their power after an election in which they made gains, while other critics say the commission would deadlock and ensure lax enforcement.

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature has approved a sweeping package of bills weakening the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general.

But the GOP sponsor, Sen. Rick Jones R-Grand Ledge, said.

This gives the appearance of a concerted national strategy by the Republican Party to assert partisan politics as a matter of rule of law, Magarian said. That move in September made it easier for Republicans to alter the laws after November's election, though Democrats have vowed to sue.

Another bill approved Thursday would impose a five-year statute of limitations on criminal charges related to campaign finance.

Democrats question the timing and counter that the legislation is an unconstitutional overreach. The supervisors have said they have a nonpartisan interest in improving the county's elections.

Republicans maintained legislative majorities in the midterms, winning 11 state Senate seats to Democrats' six and 63 state Assembly seats to Democrats' 36.

MI voters last month passed a constitutional amendment to have the 13-member commission of four Democrats, four Republicans and five independents handle redistricting instead of the partisan Legislature.

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A day after GOP lawmakers finalized an unprecedented maneuver to gut minimum wage and paid sick leave laws, a Senate panel passed legislation that would create the Fair Political Practices Commission to enforce the campaign-finance law rather than Secretary of State-elect Jocelyn Benson, who ran in part on a pledge to advocate for election transparency.

Democrats see the effort as a wanton power grab that defies the will of voters who put their candidates in office.

Evers says Republicans are ignoring the will of voters. Republicans also approved top Walker aide Ellen Nowak to be the new head of the state's Public Service Commission.

The Democrats won the offices of governor, attorney general and secretary of state for the first time in almost 30 years and now bills happen to come up to chip away at the duties of those offices.

Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes will take office after an inauguration ceremony on January 7.

The Wisconsin legislation passed in a session marked by stops and starts as GOP leaders tried to muster enough votes in the Senate. Walker has signaled his support for the bills; on Thursday, a spokesman said Walker was still reviewing the legislation and gave no timetable for action.

The legislation also prevents the new Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul from withdrawing from federal lawsuits without their approval.

The move comes almost a month after Gov. -elect Tony Evers, a Democrat, narrowly beat Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Nessel, for example, has said she probably will not defend a law allowing faith-based groups to refuse to serve same-sex couples who want to adopt children.

Republicans dispute criticism that the legislation would undermine the role of the attorney general.

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