- Republican lawmakers in several states are planning to push through last-minute conservative policies or stifle the power of incoming Democratic governors.
- In Michigan, Republicans plan to alter measures that would have raised the minimum wage and mandated paid sick leave during the lame-duck session.
- In North Carolina, Republican lawmakers have a veto-proof majority they intend to use to pass stricter photo ID requirements before January, when new Democrats break the state’s House supermajority.
Democrats are replacing Republicans in seven states’ governors mansions, but before power changes hands in January, Republican lawmakers in several states are planning to push through last-minute conservative policies or take power from incoming Democratic governors.
In Michigan, Republicans plan to alter measures that would have raised the minimum wage and mandated paid sick leave during the lame-duck session between this month’s election and the swearing in of the state’s new Democratic governor early next year.
Just days after Wisconsin Democrat Tony Evers won a razor-thin victory over Republican incumbent Gov. Scott Walker, GOP leaders in the state are discussing plans to limit Evers’ ability to appoint officials to his government, limit Evers’ control of the rule-making process, make it harder for the Democrat to stop a work requirement for those on Medicaid, and move the date of the 2020 presidential primary.
Democrats have already voiced outrage about the plans, which include making it more difficult for Democrats to change or overturn laws championed by Walker.
“Let me be clear: the Republicans and Speaker Vos should stop any and all attempts to play politics and weaken the powers of the governor’s office in Wisconsin before I take the oath,” Evers tweeted two days after the election, calling the GOP effort to reduce his power “desperate antics to cling to power and violate the checks and balances of Wisconsin government.”
The efforts in Wisconsin mirror many of those made in North Carolina two years ago, after Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper was elected to replace Republican Pat McCrory.
Wisconsin and Michigan are two of four states where Republicans are losing control of their governorships and both state legislative chambers.
Here are a few laws Republican legislators hope to repeal or dilute in their states:
Voter ID requirements
Republican state legislators in North Carolina are writing the details of a new voter photo ID law that the state voted on this month.
This comes after a previous voter ID law passed by Republicans in the state was struck down last year by a federal appeals court judge, who found the law appeared to “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes the new measure, has argued that “nothing short of the future of voting rights in North Carolina will be on the line” in its negotiation.
Republicans in Wisconsin are also planning to make the state’s GOP voter ID law harder to change.
The minimum wage
Republican lawmakers in Michigan are planning to amend a minimum wage law before the midterms before Democrat Gretchen Whitmer replaces outgoing GOP Gov. Rick Snyder.
In September, the state’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a proposal to raise the Midwestern state’s minimum wage. But by voting on the measure, the state prevented the law from being passed as a ballot referendum, which can only be overturned with three-fourths of the state legislature. So the path is now clear for GOP lawmakers to alter the law they oppose, which only requires a simple majority vote.
It’s unclear exactly how the legislature wants to change the law – which was designed to raise the minimum wage to $US12 per hour by 2022 and gradually raise the tipped worker minimum wage from $US3.50 – but the GOP has acknowledged its plan is to fundamentally change the measure.
“I’m angry. I’m really angry,” said Tracy Pease, a 47-year-old waitress and minimum wage advocate, told the Washington Post in September. “It’s not just that I had a vested interest in this. But the point was to go to the people, and now they have circumvented our vote. They have taken away our vote.”
One Fair Wage, a group that backed the wage hike, pledged to sue the legislature if it attempts to water down or repeal the law.
Paid sick leave
The Republican-controlled legislature in Michigan also passed a law mandating that employees qualify for somewhere between 40 and 72 hours of paid sick leave – a measure Republicans oppose – in order to alter it with a simple majority during the lame-duck session.
It’s also unclear exactly how Republicans will change the law, but Michigan’s Chamber of Commerce has warned that the requirements would put “severe compliance burdens” on employers.