Thousands of Wisconsinites gathered outside of the state capitol building in Madison tonight to protest a proposed special session by Republican lawmakers in the legislature that hopes to strip powers from the governor elect, a Democrat, just one month before he's set to take office.
Hundreds, if not thousands more came inside the capitol building throughout the day to give public comments on the proposed session. The public comments began at 12:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon, and were still going on throughout the evening.
The brazen attempts by Republicans to alter the powers of the governor and attorney general, as well as to change laws to limit early voting in the state and create a separate election to help a conservative state Supreme Court judge, were on the minds of many Wisconsin citizens who came to the state capitol on Monday, according to reporting from Madison.com.
Most of those who spoke publicly about the set of bills Republicans are proposing spoke out against the measures, deeming them to be against the will of the people, who voted against sending Republican Gov. Scott Walker last month and voted for Democratic nominee Tony Evers.
Evers himself gave testimony to a committee of lawmakers considering pushing forward the special session. "[T]he legislation before you today and the spirit of this extraordinary session are unfettered attempts to override and ignore what the people of Wisconsin asked for this November," Evers said in his testimony.
"This is rancor and politics as usual. It flies in the face of democratic institutions and the checks and balances that are intended to prevent power-hungry politicians from clinging to control when they do not get their way."A rally of protesters gathered in front of the capitol at 5:30 p.m. on Monday evening. Associate editor for the Madison, Wisconsin-based Capital Times, John Nichols, spoke candidly about the history of his own family in the state. As a 7th-generation Wisconsinite, Nichols admitted his ancestors were themselves Republicans — but that they would not have approved of what the current incarnation of the party was doing.
"They did not see the Republican Party as a bunch of political hacks who used their last bit of power to undo an election result," Nichols said.
Gov. Scott Walker, the outgoing Republican governor, has signaled he plans to sign the bills into law if they reach his desk. Although he didn't say outright that he endorsed the bills and their contents, he didn't threaten to veto them either, or tell Republican lawmakers to back down in their push to pass them, according to reporting from the Associated Press.