The Fitzgerald Brothers have admitted it. Now other Republicans are admitting it. They see the Recall elections in July as a opportunity for them to ram through off-the-wall, right-wing extremist legislation before the tables are turned and there isn’t a Republican Rubber Stamp majority to appease the Koch Brothers and Scott Walker.
Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP leaders have launched a push to ram several years’ worth of conservative agenda items through the Legislature this spring before recall elections threaten to end the party’s control of state government.
Republicans, in a rapid sequence of votes over the next eight weeks, plan to legalize concealed weapons, deregulate the telephone industry, require voters to show photo identification at the polls, expand school vouchers and undo an early release for prisoners.
Lawmakers may also act again on Walker’s controversial plan stripping public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights. An earlier version, which led to massive protest demonstrations at the Capitol, has been left in limbo by legal challenges.
“Everything’s been accelerated,” said Republican Rep. Gary Tauchen, who is working on the photo ID bill. “We’ve got a lot of big bills we’re trying to get done.”
The speed-up is the latest move in a tumultuous legislative session that followed last fall’s midterm elections in which Republicans won the governorship and control of both houses of the Legislature. In other states where conservatives won major victories, such as Ohio, Florida and Michigan, the GOP has moved more deliberatively.
Rep. Robin Vos, co-chairman of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee, which will attempt to handle two months of budget legislation in half the usual time, acknowledged, “It’s a factor. For the budget, yeah, I want to get it done by June 30.”
If the Legislature votes again on Walker’s plan stripping public workers of their union negotiating rights, it can sidestep the legal challenges to the first vote, which came after 14 Senate Democrats fled to Illinois to deprive the Senate of a quorum. Unions and Democrats claim the original vote violated the open meetings law and the state constitution’s quorum requirement. The case is pending before the state Supreme Court.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he and other leaders are just trying to make up the time lost during the earlier turmoil. “There is an expectation that some of these bills would be completed early on,” he said.
Stay tuned for demonstrations that may come quickly in order to counter what looks like the same nonsense that happened in this winter. It’s that time again.