In the wake of large midterm losses, Republicans in many states are attempting last-minute efforts to weaken existing or incoming Democrats’ power and further their own conservative agendas.
Republicans are minimizing their maneuvers, arguing that Democrats also run lame-duck sessions after an election. These lame-duck sessions are common in Congress, but not among state legislatures. Members rush to pass bills that are controversial, or put aside during election. These Republican maneuvers will almost certainly be challenged in court. Critics argue that their actions undermine the democratic process, as people voted for change.
“It’s something that smacks every Michigan voter in the face and tells them that this Republican Party doesn’t care about their voice, their perspective,” Michigan House Democratic Leader Sam Singh said in the News and Record of a Republican strategy to control the political agenda in the wake of their losses.
In Michigan, the GOP is set to lose power after nearly eight years. Republicans want to weaken a minimum wage law approved before the election, so it would not appear on a ballot and would be easier to amend. They also hope to change laws regarding sick leave.
Both laws began as ballot initiatives, but were preemptively adopted by lawmakers before the elections in November. As such, they can be changed with a simple majority in both chambers. One measure would raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour. Another would require that employees have between 40 and 72 hours of paid sick leave. Republicans in Michigan hope to change this.
Chairwoman of the Michigan Chamber of Congress Danielle Atkinson believed the sick leave proposal would have won in a “landslide” on the ballot.
“It’s clearly why the legislature moved to pass it, and now they should uphold it as the promise that they made to voters,” said Atkinson to the News and Record.
In Wisconsin, Republicans are looking for ways to weaken Democrat Governor-Elect Tony Evers’ power before he takes over for GOP Governor Scott Walker.
Republicans hope to protect laws enacted by Walker. These include limiting Evers’ ability to make appointments, making it more difficult to block a work requirement for Medicaid recipients, restricting his authority over the rule-making process and even changing the date of the 2020 presidential primary to help a Walker-appointed state Supreme Court Justice to win election.
The moves in Wisconsin and Michigan follow sweeping Democratic wins in the states for the first time in decades. Both states are among just four where Republicans are losing full control of the governor ship and both chambers of the legislature. Kansas and New Hampshire finish the group. Six states with a divided government will now be fully controlled by Democrats on 2019.
In North Carolina, GOP legislators are expected to implement a voter photo ID requirement that passed in the last election. They also hope to consider other legislation that Democratic governor Roy Cooper cannot stop until 2019, when the new legislature is sworn in, removing the veto-proof supermajority Republicans currently hold.