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Third lawsuit filed to challenge lame duck laws

MADISON (WKOW) — A group of unions and a Democratic lawmaker filed another lawsuit challenging the laws Republicans passed during the lame-duck session. This now marks the third lawsuit challenging bills passed during the overnight session in December.

Five unions; the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), EEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers, AFT-Wisconsin and Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professional — along with State Senator Janet Bewley filed the lawsuit in Dane County Court Monday.

This one argues the new laws illegally weaken the governor and attorney general’s powers while placing a “financial burden on taxpayers.” The lawsuit calls the bills passed by the GOP “an assault on the will of the voters and an unprecedented power grab.”

Ann Louise Tetreault, Vice President of SEIU Wisconsin said in November voters wanted a change, and taxpayers deserve a to have a governor who can deliver on his campaign pledges.

“This is unconstitutional, it’s unsafe and unfair and it should be stopped right now with an injunction,” said Tetreault.

Under the lame-duck laws, the governor and attorney general cannot drop out of a multi-state lawsuit, without legislative approval, that would repeal the Affordable Care Act.

These unions also argue the new laws violate Wisconsin’s constitution’s separation of powers, which divides government into three branches.

Governor Evers is named as a defendant. His spokesperson Melissa Baldauff said Evers will consult with legal counsel to determine an appropriate course of action.

“We’ve said repeatedly that the lame-duck session was a hasty and cynical attempt by Republicans to override the will of the people, and that the governor expected legal challenges,” said Baldauff.

Other lawsuits filed against lame-duck laws include the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now who challenged early-voting restrictions in Federal Court back in December. A coalition of liberal-leaning groups filed its own lawsuit arguing the Legislature didn’t have the “authority to convene” because its regular scheduled session ended months before.

One Wisconsin Now’s challenge against reducing early voting was struck down by U.S. District Judge James Peterson who said the limits are similar to another lawsuit that suppressed voting rights in 2016.

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Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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