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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher December 13, 2018

In controversial Wisconsin lame-duck session, will Scott Walker OK measures he's vetoed?

Now that he’s a lame duck himself, Republican Gov. Scott Walker supports taking major actions during a lame-duck session of the Wisconsin Legislature — a Full Flop from the position he took when he was first elected in 2010.

As he enters his final weeks in office, the two-term governor has signaled that he generally supports bills adopted by the GOP-controlled Legislature that would weaken the powers of Gov.-elect Tony Evers, who defeated Walker in the November 2018 election, and incoming Attorney General Josh Kaul, both Democrats.

There are also measures that would limit early voting, put lawmakers in charge of litigation aimed at overturning the federal Affordable Care Act and give Republicans more control over the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the state jobs agency.

The Legislature’s lame-duck bills and Walker’s change in position have made national news. They’ve also drawn threats of legal action by liberals and criticism from prominent Republicans calling the move a "power grab" and urging Walker not to sign the bills.

On Dec. 9, 2018, four days after the measures won approval from the Legislature during an overnight session, Evers appeared on NBC’s "Meet the Press." He repeated his call for Walker to veto the lame-duck bills, saying:

"The entire thing is a mess, it’s a hot mess, and I believe that he should veto the entire package. In fact, at least three or four of the pieces that are in there now, he has vetoed previously. And so, it makes no sense to me."

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So, are there three or four provisions in the legislation Walker is now considering that he has vetoed previously?

Yes, although they are on more arcane measures, not the ones that have generated the recent controversy.

Walker’s previous vetoes

The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, a nonpartisan state agency, identified four provisions in the lame-duck legislation that are similar to four measures Walker vetoed in September 2017 in the 2017-’19 state budget.

That information was requested from the bureau by the office of state Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha. Barca’s office then produced a memo on the similarities. That memo was cited to us by Evers’ spokeswoman as evidence to back Evers’ claim.

We also reviewed a memo on the lame-duck legislation by the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, another nonpartisan state agency.

What we found is that the lame-duck legislation does contain some provisions that are the same -- or similar to -- provisions Walker previously vetoed.

But those provisions aren’t the ones in the lame-duck legislation that have caused the big headlines.

Here’s a look:

Walker 2017 veto

Featured Fact-check

2018 GOP lame-duck legislation


Veto allowed transfer of funds by Department of Transportation between state highway programs  — without legislative oversight.

Legislation would repeal altogether DOT's authority to
transfer state funds between state highway program components.

Less flexibility for Evers’ administration than Walker’s administration.

Veto deleted requirement that Department of Administration do annual report on state’s "self-funded portal" for consolidating accounting, budget and other services.

Would require the annual report.

Imposes requirement on Evers administration that Walker administration did not want to do.

Veto deleted requirement that the Department of Veterans Affairs receive approval from Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee before transferring money for state veterans homes to veterans trust fund.

Would require  department to notify the committee of any transfers.

Walker vetoed the measure because it would have "encroached" on the executive branch’s responsibility to manage state agency programs. The requirement is more of a burden on Evers, given that the Joint Finance Committee is majority Republican.

Veto deleted requirement that Department of Health Services submit report to Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee on Walker initiative to require childless adults to work or get work training in order to receive Medicaid. Veto also eliminated  requirement that the Joint Finance Committee give approval before the work/work training requirement could be implemented.

Legislation would codify into law the work and work training requirement.

Without codifying the initiative into law, Evers administration could have made adjustments to the program; with new legislation, Evers administration would need approval from Joint Finance Committee or full Legislature.

Our ruling

Evers said, "At least three or four of the pieces that are in" in the Republican lame-duck legislation, Walker "has vetoed previously."

There are four provisions in the lame-duck bills that Walker has vetoed previously and that would put new requirements or restrictions on the incoming Evers administration.

But those provisions aren’t the major ones in the lame-duck session that have generated so much controversy and threats of lawsuits.

For a statement that is accurate but needs clarification, our rating is Mostly True.

Our Sources

YouTube, Tony Evers "Meet the Press" interview (2:35), Dec. 9, 2018

Email, Tony Evers spokeswoman Carrie Lynch, Dec. 10, 2018

Rep. Peter Barca, news release, Dec. 7, 2018

Wheeler Reporter, Rep. Peter Barca memo, Dec. 7, 2018

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Scott Walker says he'll issue some vetoes even as he shows support for lame-duck bills," Dec. 11, 2018

Interview, Rep. Peter Barca staff member Matt Egerer, Dec. 11, 2018

Email, Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau email to Matt Egerer, Dec. 6, 2018

Email, Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau chief Rick Champagne, Dec. 12, 2018

Interview, Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau director Bob Lang, Dec. 12, 2018

Gov. Scott Walker, vetoes in 2017-’19 state budget, Sept. 20, 2017

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Gov. Scott Walker making 99 partial vetoes to reshape Wisconsin budget," Sept. 20, 2017

Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, extraordinary session memo, Dec. 6, 2018

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In controversial Wisconsin lame-duck session, will Scott Walker OK measures he's vetoed?

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