(The Center Square) – While Gov. Tony Evers defends his lawsuit against the state legislature as trying to re-balance the power at the State Capitol, hid critics say the governor is trying an unconstitutional power grab.
Evers filed his lawsuit Tuesday. It asks the Supreme Court to strike down state laws that allow legislative committees to bottle-up the governor’s proposed rule changes and allows the legislature to avoid up-or-down votes on bills the governor would like to see become law.
“In Wisconsin, we are witnessing a radical power grab by Tony Evers and his leftist allies on the Wisconsin Supreme Court to empower unelected state bureaucrats and minimize the constitutional oversight powers of elected state legislators,” Sen Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said.
Evers told reporters late Tuesday the legislature’s decision to exclude University of Wisconsin workers from a recent pay raise was the last straw.
“When you mess with people’s lives like that, that was the coup de grâce,” Evers said.
The decision to exclude UW workers from the pay raise legislation came through the Joint Committee on Employment Relations, not the full legislature.
Rick Esenberg, president and general counsel at the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, told The Center Square what the governor is calling a “legislative veto” is really legislative oversight.
“This is another attempt to make dramatic changes in well settled law,” Esenberg said. “[This] case asks the Court to overrule well-established principles of legislative oversight that have been part of Wisconsin law for quite some time. Even if you don’t like the particular uses of that authority cited by the governor, it is an entirely different question to abandon such oversight.”
Nass went a step further.
“The legislature has been successfully utilizing our constitutional and statutory powers to fight the extremist policies of the Evers Administration and Wisconsin Democrats as they utilize executive branch bureaucracies to enact all forms of socialist policies,” Nass said. “As some Republican leaders and members continue to show weakness in response to the escalating liberal power grabs, the people of Wisconsin are left helpless as the radical governor and State Supreme Court majority take unprecedented control over their daily lives and prosperity.”
The governor’s lawsuit says by using legislative committees, the legislature has allowed small groups of lawmakers to decide how to implement laws that should be under the purview of the executive branch.