Skip to main content

Common Dreams. Journalism funded by people, not corporations.

There has never been—and never will be—an advertisement on our site except for this one: without readers like you supporting our work, we wouldn't exist.

No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news and opinion 365 days a year that is freely available to all and funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Our mission is clear. Our model is simple. If you can, please support our Fall Campaign today.

Support Our Work -- No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Please support our Fall Campaign today.

Protests against the Wisconsin GOP's plan to strip crucial authority from governor-elect Tony Evers continued inside the state capitol building on Tuesday. (Photo: Ben Wikler/Twitter)

Scott Walker and Wisconsin GOP Claim Protests Overblown, But Just Read the Full Details of Their Plan to Dismantle Democracy

Republicans claim to be confused about the outrage their plan has sparked, but the specifics show Wisconsinites are entirely justified in calling the legislation "a coup"

Jake Johnson

As Wisconsin Republicans and outgoing Gov. Scott Walker bend over backwards to downplay the scope of their plan to strip crucial authority from Democratic governor-elect Tony Evers, the details of the GOP's batch of bills—which the state legislature is expected to vote on as early as Tuesday night—show that Wisconsinites are entirely justified in calling the plan an outrageous attack on democracy... and even a full-blown "coup."

"People are outraged. I'm not sure where that's coming from right now," said Wisconsin's Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who apparently expects the public to believe that he has no idea why thousands of his angry constituents braved the freezing weather Monday night to protest the GOP plan.

Walker—who has vowed to sign the legislation if it reaches his desk—feigned similar confusion, telling reporters, "For all the talk about reining in power, it really doesn't."

Demonstrations against the Republican plan continued on Tuesday, as outraged Wisconsinites heckled Walker with boos and chants of "Respect our vote!" as he spoke at a tree-lighting ceremony inside the capitol building.

Below, courtesy of the local Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is a bullet-point summary of the "extreme" attack on democracy that Wisconsin Republicans want you to believe is no big deal. If passed, the legislation would:

  • Limit early voting to two weeks. A similar limit was found unconstitutional in 2016 and Democrats have threatened to take legal action again.
  • Give Republicans more control of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., including over its enterprise zone program that gives tax breaks to individual businesses. Republicans would appoint a majority of WEDC's board and the board, rather than the governor, would appoint WEDC's leader.
  • Put lawmakers in charge of litigation, allowing them to keep alive a lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare.
  • Give lawmakers — instead of the attorney general — control over how court settlements are spent.
  • Allow the Legislature to substitute the attorney general with taxpayer-funded private attorneys — picked by lawmakers — when state laws are challenged in court.
  • Make it easier for lawmakers to hire private attorneys at taxpayer expense when they are accused of violating the open records law or other statutes.
  • Eliminate the solicitor general's office, which oversees high-profile litigation. 
  • Modestly lower the state’s income tax rates next year to offset about $60 million in online sales taxes from out-of-state retailers that Wisconsin recently began collecting.
  • Require Evers to get permission from lawmakers to ban guns in the state Capitol.
  • Bar judges from giving deference to state agencies’ interpretations of laws when they are challenged in court. That could make it easier to win lawsuits challenging how environmental regulations and other laws are being enforced.
  • Make it much more difficult, in numerous ways, for the Evers administration to put in place rules that implement current and future state laws. Lawmakers, meanwhile, would gain greater power to block any rules that Evers manages to put in place.
  • Require state agencies to file quarterly reports on their spending.
  • Require the Evers administration to report if the governor pardons anyone or his aides release anyone from prison early.
  • Force Evers to get permission from the Legislature before asking the federal government to make any changes to programs that are run jointly by the state and federal governments. That would limit the governor's flexibility in how he runs public benefits programs. If the Legislature’s budget committee determined the administration was not implementing recent changes to those programs, it could reduce funding and staffing for state agencies.
  • Require Evers to go along with a plan aimed at reducing premiums for insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces for individuals.
  • Increase the number of members on the Group Insurance Board, which oversees state health benefits, from 11 to 15. The proposal would allow leaders of the Legislature to appoint the additional members.  
  • Channel federal money into a smaller number of state road projects, so that other projects could avoid having to comply with federal environmental and wage laws.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Watch: Bernie Sanders Argues 'We Must End the Greed of Big Pharma'

The live address comes as the Senate Budget Committee chair continues to push for including Medicare expansion and drug pricing reforms in the Build Back Better package.

Common Dreams staff ·


Reconciliation Framework 'Not Enough' to Push Through Infrastructure Bill, Progressives Warn

"We need to have a vote ready for the Build Back Better plan, not a framework," insisted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. "We want to have both of these votes together."

Brett Wilkins ·


McDonald's Workers Join 'Striketober' and Walk Out Over Sexual Harassment

One striker participated because "McDonald's still refuses to take responsibility for the countless women and teenagers who face harassment on the job at its stores across the globe."

Jessica Corbett ·


Breaking: FDA Panel Recommends Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine for Kids 5 to 11

With just one abstention, the advisory panel voted 17-0 to approve the vaccine for younger children which scientific review has deemed both safe and effective against the deadly virus.

Common Dreams staff ·


Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo