US & Canada

Wisconsin's Scott Walker strips incoming Democrat's powers

Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin, signed the bill on Friday

Wisconsin's outgoing Republican governor has signed bills to strip powers from his Democratic successor.

The measures curb the authority of incoming Democratic Governor Tony Evers, who won last month's election.

Democrats say the legislation is a naked power grab, but Republicans argue it will balance the legislative and executive branches of state government.

Similar laws are being considered by another Republican-controlled legislature in Michigan.

Republicans hobble new Democratic governor

Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin, signed the bill on Friday less than a month before he leaves office.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Democrat Tony Evers won the gubernatorial race by 30,000 or so votes

"There's a lot of hype and hysteria, particularly in the national media, implying this is a power shift," the onetime 2016 presidential frontrunner told reporters in Green Bay. "It's not."

But Democrats question why Republicans felt no need to adjust the balance of powers while they exerted total control over the levers of state government over the past eight years.

Mr Evers, who beat Mr Walker by one percentage point in the election, said in a statement: "Today, Governor Walker chose to ignore and override the will of the people of Wisconsin.

"This will no doubt be his legacy."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The contentious legislative session lasted nine hours

The bills - passed during a so-called lame duck session this month - will force the new Democratic governor to seek permission from the legislature before seeking changes to various programmes.

Furthermore, his ability to address early voting and voter ID laws will be limited - crucial provisions in a swing state that President Donald Trump only narrowly won in 2016.

It will also prevent the governor and his Democratic attorney general from making good on campaign promises such as removing the state from a lawsuit against Obamacare.