Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he is trying to protect Republican-passed laws from being undone by Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers, and suggested some media outlets sensationalized his comments about the balance of power between the governor and lawmakers.
In an interview that aired Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” Vos said he wants to codify some things outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker did through executive order, like implementing aspects of the Voter ID law.
“If we don’t put those into the statutes on day one, Tony Evers undoes that executive order, and Voter ID is in jeopardy,” Vos said on the program, produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.
“People saw you talking about limiting powers of the governor. I guess my question would be, is that what the people of Wisconsin want you to do?” Gousha asked.
“The fact that the Journal Sentinel chose to sensationalize the idea that we should look at the balance of powers, make sure that things that were done under Gov. Walker remain; that’s what my voters elected me to do,” Vos said.
Besides Voter ID, Vos said the Republican plan to create work requirements for welfare, which just received a waiver from the Trump administration, is another thing Evers could undo if Republican lawmakers don’t act.
“Current law allows Gov. Evers on day one to eliminate those work requirements for anybody on welfare. I strongly believe in that. Those are the kinds of policies I want to put into place, make sure that Gov. Evers can’t repeal them on day one without the cooperation of the Legislature, and make sure that we keep the success that Wisconsin has had going forward,” Vos said.
Vos said his “number one priority” for the lame duck session is to put protections for people with pre-existing conditions into state law.
Gousha asked why Evers shouldn’t have a say on some of these issues. Vos responded that Evers didn’t win a mandate Nov. 6 in the close election.
“There is no mandate for his agenda. He won the election and I congratulate him on that. The outcome is not what I wanted,” Vos said.
“But I certainly am not going to forget that the rest of Wisconsin, outside of the people who live in Dane County and Milwaukee, want to make sure that we have that balance. And my job is to make sure that the policies that have made Wisconsin successful stay on the books, and that we don’t roll back all of the reforms that have us as one of the most successful economies in the country,” Vos said.
Vos also said he would not let Evers “screw up” the Foxconn deal. During the campaign, Evers was critical of the contract and the amount of money the Walker administration committed to the Taiwanese tech giant for creating jobs in Wisconsin.
“I represent the area where Foxconn is,” Vos said.
“I am not going to allow incoming Gov. Evers to screw up the largest economic opportunity for the region that I represent in the state. So yes, I want to make sure the deal that we have for Foxconn does not all of the sudden get changed,” Vos said.
In a web extra, Vos said Foxconn executives hoped to “show (Evers) why, perhaps, his rhetoric was wrong.”
“My hope is that (Evers) opens his mind and ignores his base and says ‘Let’s learn about why this Foxconn investment was so important,’ and why it’s going to be transformational for Racine, Kenosha and all of Wisconsin, as opposed to just being a knee-jerk liberal saying ‘We gotta eliminate this deal,’ like many in the Assembly and the Senate said,” Vos said.
The speaker did say there are issues on which Evers and the Republican-controlled Legislature could work together, including the opioid crisis, foster care and transportation.
“I think that we have an opportunity to reduce the amount of borrowing that we have, potentially raise some revenues, and put it into what he said, that I agree with, during the campaign, and that’s going into roads and bridges and infrastructure,” Vos said.
In another segment, Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul discussed his priorities upon taking over at DOJ.
Kaul said he wanted to build on relationships between DOJ and law enforcement agencies around the state. He said he wanted to tackle the opioid crisis by making sure law enforcement is “targeting large-scale traffickers” to “slow the supply of heroin, and fentanyl and meth” into the state.
Kaul also said another early priority would be justice for sexual assault victims, and preventing another backlog of untested rape kits. A backlog of untested kits was an issue in his campaign against Republican incumbent Brad Schimel.
“We still have not had a single conviction resulting from the testing of the kits in the backlog, and only three people have been charged with a crime,” Kaul said.
“I also want to take action in my first hundred days in office, and I hope to work with the Legislature on legislation that will do as much as we can to prevent there from ever being a backlog from happening again,” Kaul said, adding that would involve “clear guidance” to law enforcement about the timeline for submitting kits.
Gousha asked Kaul if he would join other Democratic attorneys general around the nation in pushing back against Trump administration policies.
“If there are federal policies that are harmful to Wisconsinites, and that are either unconstitutional or illegal, I think that the attorney general absolutely should stand up for the best interests of Wisconsin,” Kaul said.
Gousha also asked Kaul what his mother, the late former Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, would think of his winning the office she held from 2003 to 2007.
Kaul said it would mean a lot to her “that I am going to have a chance to go to work to do what I think is going to move the state of Wisconsin forward and make our communities stronger.”
Watch the show: https://www.wisn.com/upfront