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Highlights of what Republican lame-duck bills would do

By TODD RICHMOND and SCOTT BAUER
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A sweeping series of proposals offered by Wisconsin Republican state lawmakers for a lame-duck legislative session would weaken the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general, move the date of the 2020 presidential and do much more.

Here is just some of what the bills would do:

  • Move the 2020 presidential primary from April to March, making it easier for the conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court justice Dan Kelly to be elected to the bench.
  • Restrict early voting to two weeks before an election.
  • Weaken the powers of the attorney general’s office by allowing Republican legislative leaders to intervene in cases and hire their own attorneys. If lawmakers feel they are representing the state’s best interests, they could push the attorney general aside.
  • Give the Legislature’s budget committee, rather than the attorney general, the power to withdraw the state from lawsuits. That would prevent Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul from withdrawing Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit seeking the repeal of the federal Affordable Care Act.
  • Eliminate the attorney general’s solicitor general office. The office currently handles some of the most prominent and political lawsuits filed in the state.
  • Institute a state-level guarantee of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, a policy that would not go as far as the guarantee now in place under federal law.
  •  Ensure people appointed by Democratic Gov-elect Tony Evers can’t control the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the state’s quasi-private job-creation agency that Evers wants to reorganize.
  • Require state health officials to adopt a federal waiver allowing Wisconsin to require childless adults to work to receive health insurance from the BadgerCare Plus program. The legislation prevents Evers from seeking to withdraw the waiver request.
  • Require Evers to get permission from the Legislature before banning guns in the state Capitol.
  • Require all settlement money Kaul wins to go into the state’s general fund rather than into state Justice Department coffers.
  • Reduce income-tax rates next year to offset about $60 million in online sales taxes collected from out-of-state retailers.
  • Require state agencies to file quarterly spending reports.
  • Prohibit judges from giving greater weight to state agencies’ interpretations of laws in court challenges. That change could make it easier to win lawsuits challenging environmental regulations.
  • Require the governor to get permission from the Legislature before asking for changes in programs run jointly by the state and federal governments, limiting the governor’s authority to run public-benefits programs.

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