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Madison Judge Blocks Laws That Limit Governor Evers' Powers

Andy Manis/Getty Images
Wisconsin state lawmakers meet in December 2018 to pass lame-duck laws.

Updated March 22:

A judge in Madison Thursday issued a temporary injunction blocking lame-duck laws that the Republican-controlled Legislature passed in December, which are designed to limit the powers of new Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul. In issuing his decision, Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess said the Legislature did not have the legal authority to meet to pass the laws.

Immediately after the judge's decision, Republicans moved to stay the temporary injunction. Arguments from all interested parties are due by Monday, March 25 afternoon. The court will issue an expedited decision, due to the upcoming spring election.

Evers called the ruling "a victory for the people of Wisconsin." He also ordered Kaul to withdraw Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, an action forbidden under the lame-duck laws.

Republicans passed the laws during an all-night extraordinary session, just weeks before Evers took office.  An extraordinary session is a previously unscheduled floor period initiated by majority party leaders.

A coalition of liberal-leaning groups filed a lawsuit in January, arguing that the session was convened illegally and that lawmakers can only meet at the call of the governor, or at times set at the beginning of a two-year session. 

Attorneys for the Legislature say they'll appeal. They argue that lawmakers have convened extraordinary sessions for about 40 years. And, that striking down these lame-duck laws could have implications for laws going back decades.

WUWM's Marti Mikkelson speaks with UW-Madison Political Science Professor David Canon about a judge's ruling that blocked the Republican lame-duck laws.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.
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