Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Call to Action against Legislative Leader's "Lame Duck" Session to Diminish Democracy

For Release: Tuesday - November 20, 2018

It takes a special type of arrogance and hubris when your political party receives fewer statewide votes in state legislative elections, and the other political party sweeps all of the statewide constitutional offices – and then you move to increase your own partisan political power and diminish that of the winning party, particularly that of the incoming Governor. And in the process of doing that, you deliberately thwart the will of the voters and further defile democracy.

And yet, with defeated Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker apparently a willing accomplice, that is exactly what Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) intend to do, beginning the week right after Thanksgiving Day and likely into December.

We do not know yet know all of the details of what Vos, Fitzgerald and Walker have in mind because the least transparent and most secretive legislative leaders and Governor in Wisconsin's history have made only a few public comments about what they think would be "good" to protect and enhance their political self-interest in this costly and totally unnecessary "Extraordinary" legislative session.

Expect that their "package" of lame duck session initiatives will be shielded from the public and media as long as possible and then unleashed and rammed through the Legislature suddenly and quickly. That's how they have operated for the past eight years and there is no reason to expect anything different this time.

Start with the fact that on November 6th, Democratic candidates for the State Assembly garnered 54 percent of the vote while Republican candidates received 46 percent. And yet, not a single incumbent legislator (of either party) lost their re-election and Republicans ended up with 63 Assembly seats and Democrats just 36. That, of course, is a result of the most extreme partisan Republican gerrymandering of any state in the nation, back in 2011.

And yet – after Wisconsinites voted for greater checks on their power – Vos and Fitzgerald are bringing the "lame duck" Legislature back into extraordinary session to consolidate and enhance their partisan control and to weaken the incoming Democratic Governor, Tony Evers. That's beyond chutzpah.

We do know that defeated Governor Scott Walker met with GOP legislative leaders Robin Vos & Scott Fitzgerald last week to discuss what damage they could do together before Tony Evers becomes Governor in January. Moving the April, 2020 WI Supreme Court date so it doesn't coincide with the 2020 WI presidential primary (and the big turnout of voters expected to participate, particularly on the Democratic side) seems likely.

Why? To try to boost the re-election chances of conservative Justice Daniel Kelly who will be running then. In addition to the unfair partisan advantage they will try to game here, it will cost you, the taxpayers, nearly seven million dollars and is opposed by already over-burdened election clerks all over the state.

Also likely on the GOP "Holiday" agenda: strengthening Wisconsin's already extreme and restrictive voter photo ID law, giving legislators more control over appointments and rule making, and possibly reducing the Governor's role and power in the redistricting process in 2021. The fact is, we don't really know what they're planning because its all being kept secret from the public, who will have to endure the consequences of their actions without a lot of input.

That's where you come in.

First, this week – before Thanksgiving – let your own State Senator and State Representative know that you oppose this "extraordinary session" because it defies the will of the state's voters, is a colossal waste of taxpayer money and will only increase partisan acrimony, not reduce it. If you are not sure who your State Senator and your State Representative are, you can look them up here.

Also, let Speaker Vos and Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald know what you think of all of this. Here is their contact information.

(608) 266-5660


(608) 266-9171

Finally, please be ready to take further action after Thanksgiving when we know more about exactly what will be unleashed against us.

If there was ever a time to make your voices heard after an election, this is it!

Please contact your state legislators, Vos and Fitzgerald and then have a happy Thanksgiving.

On Wisconsin! Forward.


Jay Heck
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)

Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI  53703

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