Well before any ballots were cast this Fall, Republicans in the legislature had announced they were going to reconvene in November/December to vote for sure on two items: a bill that would protect those with pre-existing conditions in Wisconsin in the event the Affordable Care Act was changed and a package of incentives to keep Kimberly-Clark open in northeast Wisconsin. The deal includes “Foxconn-like tax incentives” to keep KC from relocating their operations down south. KC had already moved its headquarters out of Wisconsin in the early 1980s.
The result of the election changed the tenor of the lame duck. Now, instead of just focusing on those first two issues, legislative Republicans must grapple with the fact that they only have a fellow Republican in the Governor’s Mansion for another month and a half.
In the last 40 years, there has only been one other lame duck legislative session. That happened in 2010 after the GOP swept Dems completely out of power. Knowing the Republicans could make labor law changes (which ended up being Act 10), Democrats attempted to rush through union contracts that would have been protected from any changes for the life of the contract.
Drama filled that lame duck session as Assembly Democrats had to request that Rep. Jeff Wood, an independent from Chippewa Falls, be released from jail where he was serving time for a DUI so he could vote in favor of the contracts. That vote ended up succeeding 48-47.
There was no less tension in the State Senate where contracts failed on a 16-16 vote after then-Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker (D-Wausau) and Sen. Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee) voted against their party and with the Republicans to vote down the contracts. Plale would go on to serve as the Wisconsin Railroad Commissioner under Governor Walker.
What else are Republicans discussing to vote on during the upcoming session? Rumors abound, but for the most part, they look to be placing in statute various administrative rules relating to priorities they’ve passed over the last eight years so an Evers administration could not change them. Those include rules relating to voter ID, concealed carry, and business regulations. Other ideas include taking back power the legislature has given to the Governor over the course of time and moving up the date of the 2020 presidential primary so it does not coincide with the supreme court election.