ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

clear-night
36°
Sunny
H 47° L 30°
  • clear-night
    36°
    Current Conditions
    Sunny. H 47° L 30°
  • clear-day
    52°
    Afternoon
    Sunny. H 47° L 30°
  • clear-night
    43°
    Evening
    Clear. H 57° L 31°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg news on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg traffic on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg weather on demand

00:00 | 00:00

National Govt & Politics
GOP tries to hamstring incoming Democratic attorneys general
Close

GOP tries to hamstring incoming Democratic attorneys general

GOP tries to hamstring incoming Democratic attorneys general
Photo Credit: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP, File
FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018 file photo, Democratic candidate for state attorney general Josh Kaul, right, claims victory during a news conference at the Dane County Courthouse in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin's attorney general-elect, Kaul, campaigned on promises to pull the state out of a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act and to get tougher on polluters. Republicans pushing to hang on to power in Wisconsin and Michigan are trying to hamstring Democrats who are about to take over as attorneys general. (Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP, File)

GOP tries to hamstring incoming Democratic attorneys general

Republicans pushing to hang on to power in Wisconsin and Michigan aren't stopping at curbing the authority of incoming Democratic governors. They're also trying to hamstring Democrats who are about to take over as attorneys general.

The moves underscore how attorneys general have become powerful partisan weapons on both the state and national levels.

Republicans in both states say they need to reduce the powers of their Democratic attorneys general and strengthen their own authority to preserve GOP initiatives such as voter ID and to prevent more litigation challenging President Donald Trump's policies. Democrats see the effort as a wanton power grab that defies the will of voters who put their candidates in office.

"This clearly is an indication of how polarized politics have become," University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist David Canon said. "It's really not consistent with how we've had transfers of power in the past. We should be alarmed at this. I hope it's not the new normal."

The GOP has controlled the legislatures and the governor's offices in Wisconsin and Michigan since 2011. The party has used that power to pass conservative policies, including creating voter ID requirements, adopting right-to-work laws and stripping public workers in Wisconsin of nearly all their collective bargaining rights.

But that power structure changed last month, and Democrats rejoiced after their candidates seized the governor and attorney general offices in both states.

Wisconsin's attorney general-elect, Josh Kaul, campaigned on promises to pull the state out of a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act and to get tougher on polluters. His counterpart in Michigan, Dana Nessel, vowed not to defend state laws she considers unconstitutional and pledged to sue the Trump administration "all day, every day."

Groups of Democratic attorneys general have filed dozens of multistate lawsuits against the Trump administration. This week Democratic attorneys general planned to file subpoenas seeking records from the Trump Organization and the Treasury Department as part of a lawsuit accusing Trump of profiting off the presidency.

The midterm election results put the GOP on the defensive. Within weeks, anxious Republican lawmakers started meeting to seek ways to weaken all four offices in lame-duck legislative sessions.

The bills they proposed followed the lead of North Carolina, where Republicans adopted similar legislation over the last two years. In 2016, state GOP lawmakers passed lame-duck measures reducing incoming Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's powers. Last year, they included language in the state budget that gives final decision-making in lawsuits challenging state laws to legislative leaders rather than Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein.

In an all-night floor session, Wisconsin Republicans this week approved sweeping legislation to eliminate the state Justice Department's solicitor general's office, a tool the defeated Republican attorney general, Brad Schimel, used to join highly partisan lawsuits such as the ACA challenge. The move ensures Kaul cannot use the office to attack Republican laws.

Lawmakers could intervene in any lawsuit, setting themselves up to defend their policies if Kaul does not. Kaul also would need legislative approval before settling cases. The bills await outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker's signature.

Kaul said this week that he would defend any state law that's constitutional regardless of his personal beliefs, "but the Legislature has just ignored all that."

Lawmakers are trying to put their "judgment in place of the judgment of the voters of Wisconsin," he said. "And this is fundamentally not how the process should be working in any functional democracy."

He predicted the Wisconsin legislation would spark lawsuits across multiple jurisdictions.

Wisconsin Republicans have not offered any defense of the attorney general provisions, except to say they need to curtail Evers' power to eliminate GOP laws.

In Michigan, Republicans are advancing their own measure that would also allow GOP lawmakers to intervene in lawsuits, ensuring they could step in if Nessel will not defend laws. The bill could win Senate approval as early as next week.

The bill "is an attack on the doctrine of separation of powers," Democratic state Rep. Brian Elder said. "Had last month's results been different, specifically in this particular race, I am confident that this legislation would not have been introduced."

Republicans denied that the bill undercuts Nessel or any future attorney general, calling it a response to increasing "legislation through litigation."

___

Eggert reported from Lansing, Michigan.

___

Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trichmond1 . Follow Dave Eggert on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00 .

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS
  • Police were called to the Broken Arrow High School on Thursday after a threatening message was found on a bathroom mirror. Officers say the message referenced a shooting set to happen on Friday. Police interviewed a student, 18-year-old Hipolito Hernandez. Hernandez was then arrested on a complaint of Threatening a Violent Act.  Officers decided that the threat was not credible, but the timing was alarming. “The threat was made one day prior to the anniversary date of the Sandy Hook school shooting,” said BAPD Major Scott Bennett. “We will do everything in our power to prevent chances of a similar event happening here in Broken Arrow. This includes strictly enforcing existing threats laws.”  
  • Journalists were kept away from a secret federal appeals court hearing on Friday in Washington, D.C., as officials sealed off an entire floor for arguments in a mysterious grand jury case which some believe could be related to the Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. The case – known officially as “In re: Grand Jury Subpoena” – has been sealed in its entirety when it comes to public records, as it moved from the district court to the appeals court level in recent months. Reporters at the courthouse – which is just down the hill from the U.S. Capitol – at first tried to gather outside the courtroom where the secret arguments were going to take place, but then security officials sealed off the entire fifth floor of the building, making it nearly impossible to find out who was involved in the matter. “We have spread out across the building,” tweeted Darren Samuelsohn, a reporter for Politico. “No sightings yet to report of note.” Reporters kicked off the 5th floor entirely for a sealed appeals hearing that may involve #Mueller on s grand jury dispute. They are even searching stairwells for reporters. We have split up and trying to cover all entrances and exits…. — Sarah N. Lynch (@SarahNLynch) December 14, 2018 Arguments in the sealed Mueller case are ongoing. Everyone was booted out of the Court of Appeals and the entire floor was cleared. — Charlie Gile (@CharlieGileNBC) December 14, 2018 The possible tie to the Mueller investigation was reported by Politico earlier this year, when one of their reporters observed someone asking for a secret court filing to take to a law firm involved in the matter. There are two different sealed case involving an unknown grand jury which have attracted attention at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals – as the relatively speedy nature of the cases – and then today’s sealing off of an entire floor – has prompted intense interest. “To this day, I can’t fathom what the heck it could be that would move this fast and get this much secrecy,” said national security lawyer Bradley Moss. Several media folks have asked me and colleagues for weeks what we can imagine this case being, assuming Trump's people are telling the truth and it's not them. To this day, I can't fathom what the heck it could be that would move this fast and get this much secrecy. https://t.co/EH6X08KDq8 — Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) December 14, 2018 Here’s the docket on the case – as you can see, it offers little in the way of information. But with officials sealing off the entire courthouse floor to deal with it – the case certainly raises questions about what’s going on.
  • This is horsepower in its rawest form. >> Read more trending news  A Facebook video of two Belgian draft horses pulling a tractor-trailer up an icy driveway in southeastern Minnesota went viral this week, the Star Tribune reported. The truck driver took video of the 13-year-old horses -- Molly and Prince -- after his truck got stuck in the snow, the newspaper reported. Lizzie Hershberger, who owns the horses, told KARE that the animals were not harmed when they pulled the truck. Her husband, Jacob Hershberger, admitted the horses had never attempted such a weighty task, but he said they handled it well, the television station reported. “It’s quite amazing how a video can go viral from little Minnesota,” Lizzie Hershberger told the Star Tribune. The couple, formerly Amish, bought the horses six months ago, Lizzie Hershberger told the newspaper. The horses are trained and Jacob Hershberger uses them weekly, KARE reported. “(Jacob is) semi-retired from the trucking, so he bought himself these Belgians and he just loves them. He uses them multiple times a week,” Hershberger told the Star Tribune. The Hershbergers were not surprised when a truck driver spun out as he attempted to return an empty trailer, which is usually used to haul livestock, KARE reported. A second truck was waiting at the bottom of the driveway, so Jacob Hershberger hitched up the horses. “It’s a neat story,” Lizzie Hershberger told the Star Tribune. “We just like the idea that horses still get used and I think that people just aren’t really aware of that.”
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken is trying out a new tradition, just in time for the holidays. The chain is offering a new way to enjoy the aroma of the Colonel's secret recipe in your own home: A KFC yule log.  It's called the KFC 11 Herbs & Spices Firelog and it smells like chicken. KFC partnered with Enviro-Log to create the new product, which lasts up to three hours and is made of 100 percent recycled materials.  KFC officials said, 'the smell of the Colonel's original recipe is unmistakable' and 'it may result in a craving for fried chicken.'  >> Trending: Del Monte recalling more than 64,000 cases of Fiesta Corn in 25 states It's only available for a limited time at   www.KFCfirelogs.com. It costs $18.99, but there’s a limit, only one per customer.  
  • Facing outrage from voters that taxpayer money was being used to pay for sexual harassment settlements against members of Congress involving employees on Capitol Hill, the House and Senate on Thursday approved a package of reforms designed to force members of Congress to pay for any such judgments with their own money in the future. Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS), the head of the House Administration Committee, noted that the bill will rightly hold “members of the House and Senate personally liable for unlawful harassment and retaliation.” “Time is finally up for members of Congress who think they can sexually harass and get away with it,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), who last year told of being harassed on Capitol Hill when she was a young Congressional staffer. “They will no longer be able to slink away with no one knowing that they have harassed,” Speier told reporters. House Democrat Jackie Speier said men and women who sexually harass others will have to pay back the U.S. Treasury for any settlements made. It will be done through a lump sum, garnishing savings or wages, or even digging into their social security if necessary pic.twitter.com/q7RLQpgcKh — POLITICO (@politico) December 13, 2018 Click here for the details of the 80 page bill. The bill gives lawmakers 180 days to pay any harassment award; if that has not happened, then Congressional officials are authorized to garnish the pay of lawmakers, or take money from the member’s retirement savings account. If the accused member leaves the Congress, the law would give Congressional officials the power to garnish the wages of that former lawmaker in their new job, as well as taking money from an annuity or even out of that member’s Social Security benefits. Negotiations had been in limbo for several months as Senators resisted some of the changes approved by the House – Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi has said the House will move to strengthen its own rules dealing with other workplace discrimination issues, even if the Senate will not. JUST IN: The bipartisan sexual harassment bill I'm leading with @RoyBlunt has passed the Senate & House and will soon be signed into law! This will fundamentally change the way sexual harassment cases are handled in Congress and protect victims instead of protecting politicians. — Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) December 13, 2018 Another change in the bill removes the requirement that staffers who say they’ve been sexually harassed, will not have to deal with a 30-day ‘cooling off period,’ in which they are not allowed to bring a lawsuit, after they make a harassment complaint. It’s the first major change in sexual harassment policies in the Congress since the “#MeToo” movement began. The bills were passed quickly in both the House and Senate; no votes were taken, as the plans were approved by unanimous consent.