A culture of tyranny: GOP Legislatures attacking Dem governors


You would almost think they had conspired together:

In Michigan, where the GOP has held the levers of power for nearly eight years, Republican legislators want to water down a minimum wage law they approved before the election so that it would not go to voters and would now be easier to amend.

Republicans in neighboring Wisconsin are discussing ways to dilute Democrat Tony Evers' power before he takes over for GOP Gov. Scott Walker. And in North Carolina, Republicans may try to hash out the requirements of a new voter ID constitutional amendment before they lose their legislative supermajorities and their ability to unilaterally override vetoes by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

In addition to power-grabbing policy moves, these multi-state Republicans have another thing in common, which made those power-grabs possible: Gerrymandering. If the following sounds familiar, there's a reason for that:

For the past two decades, the GOP has been the official map maker of Michigan legislative districts. They’ve made the most of their opportunities, drawing legislative maps that helped preserve majorities in the state House and Senate and within the state’s congressional delegation, using strokes large and small, according to a Bridge Magazine analysis of precinct-level census and voting data.

Among Bridge’s findings: New boundaries after the 2010 U.S. Census were drawn to give Republicans an edge in: four additional seats in the 110-member state House; one additional seat in the 38-member state Senate, and keeping a secure 9-5 advantage in Congress. Perhaps more importantly, the redistricting strengthened GOP positions in already friendly Republican districts across the state.

In 2014, the GOP leveraged the redrawn districts to hit all its post-2010 election goals, despite getting just 50 percent of state Senate votes, 48.5 percent of all state House votes and 47.5 percent of all congressional votes.

And this should also sound familiar, from the OP:

Republicans downplay the tactics and point out that Democrats have also run lame-duck sessions, including in Wisconsin in 2010 before Walker took office and the GOP took control of the Legislature. But some of the steps Republicans are expected to take will almost surely be challenged in court, and critics say such maneuvers undermine the political system and the will of the people, who voted for change.

"It's something that smacks every Michigan voter in the face and tells them that this Republican Party doesn't care about their voice, their perspective," House Democratic Leader Sam Singh said of the strategizing to control the fate of minimum wage increases and paid sick leave requirements.

The moves would follow midterm elections in which Democrats swept statewide offices in Michigan and Wisconsin for the first time in decades but fell short of taking over their gerrymandered legislatures. That gives Republicans a final shot to lock in new policies, with Democrats unable to undo them anytime soon.

"Swept" state-wide offices, meaning a strong majority of the state's voters rejected Republican leadership. But the will of the people wasn't enough to overcome the corrupt system put in place by said Republicans. On the plus side, Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved redistricting reform via ballot measure:

“This is an important victory for bolstering democracy in Michigan and ensuring all voters’ voices are heard,” said Michael Li, Senior Counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “Politicians and the Supreme Court have repeatedly failed to fix extreme partisan gerrymandering. In this case, the citizens of Michigan took things in their own hands, overcoming doubters and skeptics, to craft a fix that is a strong model for all. The win is nothing short of inspiring.”

Proposal 2 will ensure the process of redistricting is transparent and balanced, taking power away from self-interested lawmakers and giving it to an independent citizens commission, consisting of Democrats, Republicans, and voters unaffiliated with either party. The initiative mirrors the Brennan Center’s longstanding recommendation for how states can reform their legislative map-drawing.

Meanwhile, both Wisconsin and North Carolina are likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future, where getting rid of partisan gerrymandering just got a whole lot harder with the Trump-loving sexual predator Brett Kavanaugh donning a robe. Horror film at eleven.



Footnote on Michigan ballot initiatives

Michigan operates differently than North Carolina does, which is why that redistricting vote was even allowed to occur:

In order to get on the statewide ballot, groups backing ballot initiatives need to first gather the requisite number of signatures.

For proposed amendments to the state Constitution, 315,654 valid signatures are required. Petitions amending legislative statute require 252,523 valid signatures.

Once signatures are submitted, Secretary of State staff review a sample to determine whether enough of the signatures are valid. Then the Board of State Canvassers reviews the initiative and makes a determination on whether it makes the ballot.

Opponents to ballot initiatives also have opportunity to file formal challenges to the proposal's language, legality, or the signatures collected before the state board and in the courts.

Nothing in there about the Legislature, is there? And that's the way it should be here. But in order to make that happen, the Legislature in NC would have to pass that law. Don't hold your breath, because the NC GOP is just as contemptuous of the voting public as they are Democrats.