Tony Evers isn’t letting Republicans strip him of power as he prepares to take over the office of Wisconsin governor. The Democratic governor-elect says that he has no plans to submit to the last-minute lame-duck laws passed by the outgoing Scott Walker a few weeks ago, and challenged GOP lawmakers to sue him if they don’t like it, according to the Journal Sentinel.
On December 14, Governor Scott Walker signed legislation aimed at weakening the power of the newly-elected Democratic governor and attorney general in what many Democrats called a blatant power grab. The bill, which Walker signed just three weeks before leaving office, shifted power from the governor and AG office and towards the Republican-controlled legislature. The new laws require Evers to get permission from lawmakers to change certain programs.
Evers, who will be sworn in on Monday, says that he doesn’t agree with the legislation and plans to ignore parts of the measures — though he didn’t clarify which he was referring to. He said that he plans to be on the receiving end of a lawsuit over the matter.
“I’m anticipating most of the provisions will be challenged and I’m guessing I will be a defendant rather than a plaintiff,” Evers said.
The incoming governor said that the situation was similar to when he was the superintendent over state schools and GOP lawmakers attempted to weaken his authority. A lawsuit brought against Evers over the issue is before the state’s supreme court right now.
“Having gone through this in my previous job as state superintendent, I think it’s more likely that I will be sued because I’m now the chief executive of the state,” Evers said. “Same thing happened when I was state superintendent — I was sued. So that’s where I anticipate most of the action to be.”
The conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty said that a lawsuit was a possibility if Evers refused to follow the new laws.
“If he refuses to follow the law and we have a client who has been harmed, yes, there could be a lawsuit,” said spokesperson Rick Esenberg.
Republican Speaker Robin Vos admonished Evers in a tweet, saying that leaders should uphold the law whether they agree with them or not.
Whether you agree with them or not, we all have to follow state laws until they’re changed or a court find them unconstitutional. I hope Governor-elect Evers will reconsider his statement and set an example for the rest of the state. https://t.co/9P1pYppHkG— Speaker Robin Vos (@SpeakerVos) January 2, 2019
Evers defended his position, saying that he believed the laws were passed as a way to disenfranchise voters who put him in office, but added that he is aware that he needs to work with current lawmakers in order to get things done in the state.