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Highlights of bills passed by Wisconsin Republicans

MADISON, Wis. (AP) —Republican lawmakers on Wednesday passed a series of bills meant to restrict the powers of the incoming governor and attorney general, both Democrats.

Here are some of the key parts of the sweeping legislation, which was approved in a lame-duck legislative session:

  • Restrict early voting to two weeks before an election.
  • Give the Legislature’s budget committee, rather than the attorney general, the power to withdraw the state from lawsuits. That would prevent Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, a Democrat, from withdrawing Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit meant to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act.
  • Give Republicans lawmakers the majority of appointments to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the state’s quasi-private job-creation agency, which Evers has said he wants to reorganize. Evers would also be barred from replacing the top official at the agency until Sept. 1, when the number of appointments Evers and Democratic lawmakers would make would be equal to the number that could be made by Republicans.
  • Require state health officials to carry out a federal waiver allowing Wisconsin to require childless adults under the age of 50 to work in order to receive health insurance through the state’s BadgerCare Plus program. The legislation would prevent Evers from seeking to withdraw the waiver request.
  • Eliminate the attorney general’s solicitor-general office. The office now handles some of the most prominent and most political lawsuits pursued in the state.
  • Require all settlement money the attorney general wins to go to the state’s general fund rather than the state Justice Department.
  • 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.
  • Reduce income tax rates next year to offset about $60 million worth of online sales taxes collected from out-of-state retailers.
  • Require the governor to get permission from the Legislature before he could ban guns in the state Capitol.
  • Require state agencies to file quarterly spending reports.

At the same time, lawmakers decided not to pass three proposals that were originally part of the lame-duck proposals. One would have moved the date of the 2020 presidential primary election, one would have let Republican legislative leaders intervene in lawsuits filed against the state and enlist their own lawyers rather than the attorney general, and the third would have provided a state-level guarantee of health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

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