Capitol Notes


New Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, is locking horns with Republicans in the state Legislature. In the last week, Evers rejected GOP plans for a middle class tax cut, and to guarantee health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Republicans said they'd stand in Evers' way if he tries to expand Medicaid coverage.

New Gov. Tony Evers got some help last week when a coalition of liberal-leaning groups filed a lawsuit which, if successful, would benefit him. 

The suit seeks to overturn the laws Republican lawmakers approved last month that limit the Democratic governor's powers. 

The suit argues that GOP lawmakers illegally convened the lame duck session according to a joint rule, which doesn't have the force of law. 


Today is Inauguration Day in Wisconsin, and Tony Evers will be sworn-in as governor.  The Democrat defeated Republican Incumbent Scott Walker last November. 

Evers' term could be marked by gridlock as he battles a Republican-led legislature, which has already taken steps to limit his power.

For this week's "Capitol Notes," WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of, about the other challenges Evers will face in the first few months of his tenure.

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In this New Year's edition of "Capitol Notes," we look ahead to the stories that'll likely top the headlines in 2019. It begins with the Jan. 7 inauguration of Democrat Tony Evers as Wisconsin governor. Evers narrowly defeated Republican Scott Walker in the November midterm election.  

Evers campaigned on promises to expand Medicaid, cut the prison population in half and pour an additional $1.4 billion in the public schools. But, Evers will likely run into roadblocks, trying to get the initiatives through the Republican-controlled legislature.

For our "Capitol Notes" conversation today, we're going to examine the year in politics. Probably the biggest story of 2018 — Republican Gov. Scott Walker narrowly lost his bid for a third term to Democratic challenger Tony Evers.  

For eight years, Walker and the Republican legislature had free reign to enact major policy changes, such as Act 10, Voter ID and concealed carry. Walker survived a recall attempt over Act 10 and then easily won a second term in 2014. But this time, voters wanted a change.

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Often, political news slows as the holidays approach. But that hasn't been the case this year. Democratic Governor-Elect Tony Evers has been busy announcing his first cabinet picks. Republican legislative leaders have been busy responding to the announcements. In this week's Capitol Notes, JR Ross of talks about the latest developments.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed the lame-duck bills into law late last week. The measures weaken the powers of Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers. In addition, the legislation limits early voting to no more than two weeks before an election. Attorneys for a coalition of liberal groups asked a federal judge Monday to block the early voting restrictions.  

Walker signed the measures without issuing any vetoes. In this week's "Capitol Notes," WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of why Walker left the legislation intact.

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The legislative lame duck session dominated the news last week. The Republican-controlled legislature passed a sweeping package of bills designed to weaken the powers of Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers and incoming Attorney General Josh Kaul. 

Now, many eyes are on Republican Gov. Walker to see if he'll sign the measures. Walker is being pressured by people on both sides of the aisle, not to sign the legislation and to think about his legacy.


Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature released plans late Friday for bills they’ll take up the first week of December. Lawmakers are going into session to consider limiting the power of Democratic Governor-elect Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul.

JR Ross of weighs in on the measures for this week’s Capitol Notes. He says if the proposals are approved, the changes would be a very big deal.


Last week saw more fallout from the Nov. 6 election.  Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel decided not to seek a recount in the race that he narrowly lost, to Democratic challenger Josh Kaul.  The next day, outgoing Gov. Scott Walker appointed Schimel to the post of Waukesha County Circuit Judge.  Some legislative Democrats decried the move, calling it "backscratching."

In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of, what he thought of the optics surrounding the appointment.

Gov. Scott Walker avoided the public eye in the week following the election, in which he narrowly lost to Democratic challenger Tony Evers. But late last week, he surfaced. 

He says he's open to moving the date of Wisconsin's presidential primary in 2020, so that it won't be held on the same day as the state Supreme Court election. The move would help conservative Justice Daniel Kelly, a Walker appointee who would be up for election to a 10-year term in April of 2020. 

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Update Nov. 16

 Gov. Scott Walker made his first comments to reporters on Thursday after losing his re-election bid. He promised he wouldn't "retreat." Walker also signaled potential support for a variety of Republican-backed efforts to limit the power of his Democratic successor, including moving the date of the 2020 presidential primary.

Original Story Nov. 12


Last week, Tony Evers cleared a huge hurdle, winning the race for governor. But the Democrat’s biggest challenges are to come. The first is within a few months when Evers will have to present his first biennial budget proposal. According to a Wisconsin Policy Forum report, he'll have to find $2 billion just to keep current programs in place.

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Gov. Scott Walker conceded to Democratic challenger Tony Evers Wednesday after Evers won the election by just more than 1 percentage point. Walker originally wanted to wait until military ballots were counted and the official canvass was completed. He also expressed concern about 2,000 absentee ballots in Milwaukee that were reconstructed due to errors or damage.

After weeks of attack ads and mailings, the candidates for Wisconsin governor and U.S. Senate spent the weekend barnstorming the state, making their final appeals to voters before Tuesday's election.

In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of, what points the candidates wanted to hammer home, in their closing arguments.