What You Need to Know About the Protests at Madison’s Capitol Building This Week

As a result of the midterm elections, Democrats all over the country won governor and attorney general seats historically held by Republicans. Many saw Tony Evers’ win as a turning point in Wisconsin politics as the high Democratic turnout will help put a check on the power Republicans have accumulated in recent years. However, Republicans currently in office quickly went to work to limit the power of the incoming Democrats. 

News came out last Friday, November 30th, that the Republicans in Senate had been drafting several bills concerning the powers of the governor. By Monday, December 3rd they held a debate hearing at the capitol to pass the bills. These bills will drastically change the power held by governor-elect Tony Evers. 

The bills aim to shorten the early voting period to two weeks, and basically put more checks on the governor's power. By the time Tony Evers is in office, he won’t be able to change campaign budget policies or overturn the voter ID laws, which were both goals he emphasized during his campaign. The bill would also move the state job creation agency from the governor's jurisdiction to the Republican-controlled legislature. 

Tony Evers also wished to ban guns at the capitol, and with the new bill, he won’t be able to do that without permission from the Senate. The bill also takes power away from other recently elected Democrats, like attorney general Josh Kaul who wished to remove Wisconsin from the lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. 

The issue that residents have with the passing of this legislature is not only that Governor Scott Walker didn’t have to face any of these barriers during his term, but mainly that it undermines democracy and the point of the election. 

Starting on Monday, over one thousand people showed up to protest the debate hearing, and 100 stood to testify. Some were rightfully heated and others tried to maintain their midwestern politeness, but all were saying the same thing.    This is not Democracy. This isn’t a bill, it's a coup. 

Because of the midterm election results, everyone is expecting a huge Democratic turnout for the presidential election in 2020. Because of this, Republicans are trying to create separate election days for the state supreme court seat so they don’t occur on the same day or the same ballot. 

 

Officials in term now want to split up the election into two to three separate elections in order to make sure that Dan Kelly, backed by Scott Walker, gets a seat on the state supreme court. Holding these separate elections just to ensure Dan Kelly’s spot would not only be very expensive for the state of Wisconsin, but it would also be very difficult to get people to come and vote two to three separate times. 

 

Overall, it has been a rough week for Wisconsin Democrats. They may have won the midterm elections, but it is clear that they have not won the larger battle with the Republican-dominated Senate.