Kaul Calls Lame Duck Laws ‘Terrible’
Changes for Department of Justice will endanger public safety, new Attorney General says.
Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul will take office in about three weeks, but he’ll assume the role with less power than his predecessor, Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel, who Kaul defeated by less than 1 percent in November’s midterm elections.
Several Republican bills were signed by Gov. Scott Walker last week limiting both the governor and attorney general’s powers, including eliminating the state Department of Justice’s solicitor general’s office, allowing lawmakers to intervene in state lawsuits and requiring the attorney general to get the Legislature’s approval before settling cases.
Kaul recently spoke with Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Central Time” host Rob Ferrett.
The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Rob Ferrett: Let’s start with the extraordinary session of the Legislature, when it comes to the powers of the attorney general what’s on your mind?
Josh Kaul: Well first and foremost this is terrible legislation. This legislation has not been thought through as well as it should have been and there are some significant problems with it.
One is it takes resources away from the Wisconsin Department of Justice. That’s not good for public safety. Another problem with the bill is that it reduces the powers of the governor and the attorney general, it’s really an attempt to undermine the results of the elections. And one of the things that is sure to result from this legislation is that there’s going to be litigation.
RF: Is there going to be litigation from you?
JK: I’m going to wait to comment on that until I am in the (attorney general)’s office, but I think regardless of who brings litigation, there is certain to be litigation because this is a significant shift in the way that our government is organized, it’s a significant shift of power away from the executive branch to the Legislature and this is not how the transfer of power has worked literally for generations in this state or in this country.
JK: I campaigned in part on the need to withdraw Wisconsin from this lawsuit. Gov.-elect (Tony) Evers called on Gov. Walker to direct Brad Schimel to withdraw from the lawsuit. At no point did somebody say, ‘Oh we may very well be changing the powers of the governor so he no longer can direct the (attorney general) to withdraw from this suit.’ That’s something that only came up after the election took place, it’s really made that debate that we had in these elections into a sham and that’s one of the unfortunate aspects of this legislation.
RF: Another big issue is Wisconsin’s voting maps. A trial is set for April and the latest incarnation of that is the assembly is going to be allowed to have an attorney to make the case for these districts. How is that going to work?
JK: The AG’s role is to defend state statutes even if the AG disagrees with them, one of the things I will be doing is defending the state’s legislative maps. It’s also appropriate though to speak up when there is room for positive policy change and policy improvement. We are spending money litigating over these maps, we’re now going to have not only the (attorney general’s) office, but also lawyers for the Legislature involved in defending these maps.
I would like to see Wisconsin move to an Iowa model where we have a nonpartisan redistricting process so that voters once again have control over our democracy, and we have voters choosing their representatives and not the other way around.
RF: On the campaign trail, a big issue for you was the opioid crisis. Do you see room where you and republicans in the Legislature can work to combat the opioid crisis?
JK: I do. The opioid epidemic is one great example, also add the growing meth problem we have in Wisconsin. I’m going to work with law enforcement agencies at the county, local and federal level to improve coordination so that we can work together to target large scale drug traffickers, people who are transporting meth, heroin or fentanyl across county and state lines.
I’m going to be an advocate for expanding access to substance abuse treatment in Wisconsin. One of the things I’ll be doing as (attorney general) is taking a look at where the multi-state investigation is into the pharmaceutical manufacturers because we need to hold them accountable to the extent that they’ve been responsible for the opioid epidemic through false and deceptive marketing practices.
And then one other area is we still haven’t expanded Medicaid in Wisconsin. If we do that we’d be able to cover about 80,000 additional Wisconsinites under BadgerCare … and we’d also save the state about $190 million a year. And we can put that into a number of areas, for example expanding access to treatment.
Listen to the WPR report here.
Josh Kaul Calls Lame-Duck Bills ‘Terrible,’ Weighs In On Opioid Epidemic was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
More about the Lame Duck Laws
- Fourth Lawsuit Against Lame Duck Laws - Shawn Johnson - Feb 22nd, 2019
- DPW Files Federal Lawsuit Over Republicans’ Lame-Duck Power Grab - Democratic Party of Wisconsin - Feb 21st, 2019
- Rep. Spreitzer, Sen. Ringhand Propose Lame Duck Limits - State Rep. Mark Spreitzer - Feb 11th, 2019
- Judge Blocks Lame Duck Voting Restrictions - Laurel White - Jan 18th, 2019
- Rep. Jimmy Anderson Seeks to Void the Wisconsin Power Grab - State Rep. Jimmy Anderson - Jan 10th, 2019
- Op Ed: Lame Duck Mischief Defamed the State - Spencer Black - Jan 2nd, 2019
- Campaign Cash: Lame Duck Law Helped Ashley Furniture - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Dec 20th, 2018
- Op Ed: Liberals All Wrong on Early Voting Law - Rick Esenberg - Dec 20th, 2018
- Op Ed: We the Irrelevant People - Sheila Plotkin - Dec 19th, 2018
- History Repeats With Latest Post-Election Republican Attack on Early Voting - One Wisconsin Now - Dec 19th, 2018
- Kaul Calls Lame Duck Laws ‘Terrible’ - Mary Kate McCoy - Dec 19th, 2018
- Court Challenge to Voting Restrictions Filed - Laurel White - Dec 18th, 2018
- Murphy’s Law: State Facing Endless Lawsuits? - Bruce Murphy - Dec 18th, 2018
- One Wisconsin Institute Files Request for Court to Enforce Rulings Striking Down Republican Lame Duck Restrictions on Voting - One Wisconsin Institute - Dec 17th, 2018
- Motion to Block Early Voting Restrictions to be Filed Today - Citizen Action of Wisconsin - Dec 17th, 2018
- Carpenter: Require ‘Lame Duck” Bills to Supermajority Votes - State Sen. Tim Carpenter - Dec 17th, 2018
- Op Ed: Lame Duck Bills Too Rushed, Secretive - Erin Grunze - Dec 16th, 2018
- Walker Signs Lame Duck Bills - Laurel White - Dec 14th, 2018
- Rep. Zamarripa Statement on Lame Duck Bills - State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa - Dec 14th, 2018
- One Wisconsin Institute Announces Coming Legal Action Against GOP ‘Lame Duck’ Voting Rights Attacks - One Wisconsin Institute - Dec 14th, 2018
- Governor Walker just sealed his legacy as the worst Governor in state history - State Sen. Chris Larson - Dec 14th, 2018
- Governor Walker Signs Extraordinary Session Legislation into Law in Green Bay - Gov. Scott Walker - Dec 14th, 2018
- Governor-elect Tony Evers Statement on Kimberly-Clark Announcement - Gov. Tony Evers - Dec 13th, 2018
- Walker Defends Lame Duck Bills - Laurel White - Dec 12th, 2018
- Murphy’s Law: Republicans’ Plan for Permanent Power - Bruce Murphy - Dec 11th, 2018
- Lame Duck Law Adds Work For State Agencies - Rich Kremer - Dec 11th, 2018
- Lawmakers Change How WEDC Tracks Jobs - Laurel White - Dec 10th, 2018
- Op Ed: Republican Power Grab Unprecedented - State Sen. Chris Larson - Dec 10th, 2018
- The State of Politics: 5 Reasons for Republican Power Play - Steven Walters - Dec 10th, 2018
- Campaign Cash: WMC Behind New Anti-Regulation Bill - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Dec 7th, 2018
- Wisconsin Budget: One More Tax Cut For The Wealthy - Tamarine Cornelius - Dec 7th, 2018
- City Beat: Episode 002 - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 6th, 2018
- Lame-Duck Bill Changes Highway Funding - Rich Kremer - Dec 6th, 2018
- Murphy’s Law: What Will Scott Walker’s Legacy Be? - Bruce Murphy - Dec 6th, 2018
- Governor Walker: What Will Your Message To Gov.-Elect Evers Be? - State Sen. Tim Carpenter - Dec 6th, 2018
- WI & MI GOP Attempt to Undermine the Voice of Voters, Put Democracy and Safety at Risk - Democratic Attorneys General Association - Dec 6th, 2018
- Your Right to Know: Lame Duck Laws All About Secrecy - Dee J. Hall - Dec 5th, 2018
- Data Wonk: The Republican War Against Democracy - Bruce Thompson - Dec 5th, 2018
- Extraordinary Session Update: Legislature Approves Critical Reforms - Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty - Dec 5th, 2018
- Rep. Gwen Moore Statement on Republican Power Grab - U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore - Dec 5th, 2018
- Statement on Lame Duck Session - State Rep. Evan Goyke - Dec 5th, 2018
- Legislature Works Overnight To Curb Evers Power - Shawn Johnson and Laurel White - Dec 5th, 2018
- Governor-elect Tony Evers Statement on Extraordinary Session - Gov. Tony Evers - Dec 5th, 2018
- Republican’s Holiday Gift to Wisconsin: An Assault on Democracy - State Sen. Janis Ringhand - Dec 5th, 2018
- Unprecedented Power Grab Will Break Wisconsin for Years to Come - State Sen. Chris Larson - Dec 5th, 2018
- Senator Taylor Believes GOP Are Taking Career Ending Votes - State Sen. Lena Taylor - Dec 4th, 2018
- Bill Curbing Evers’ Power Moves to Legislature - Shawn Johnson and Laurel White - Dec 4th, 2018
- Extraordinary Session Policy Items Flying Under the Radar - Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty - Dec 4th, 2018
- Will Republican Legislature Risk Contempt With Scheme to Enact New Limits on Early Voting? - One Wisconsin Now - Dec 4th, 2018
- Representative Lisa Subeck Statement on the Extraordinary Session - State Rep. Lisa Subeck - Dec 4th, 2018
- Power Tends to Corrupt, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely - State Rep. Jimmy Anderson - Dec 4th, 2018
- Governor-elect Tony Evers’ Testimony to the Joint Committee on Finance Opposing Extraordinary Session Legislation - Gov. Tony Evers - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Eight Days After November Election Republican Assembly Leader Robin Vos Requested New Restrictions on Early Voting - One Wisconsin Now - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Op Ed: GOP Bills Change 400 Sections of State Law - State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Rep. Brostoff Statement on Republican Effort to Override Will of Wisconsin Voters - State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Conservation Voters issue statement on lame duck bills - Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Evers Will Fight Plan to Limit His Power - Corri Hess - Dec 3rd, 2018
- GOP Lame Duck Session Targets Evers - Laurel White - Dec 3rd, 2018
- ACLU of Wisconsin’s Board of Directors condemns lame duck session - American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Stop the Wisconsin GOP power grab - Indivisible Madison - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Election defeat leads to GOP temper tantrum - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Nov 30th, 2018
- Vos Republicans: ‘Too Many People Voted’ - One Wisconsin Now - Nov 30th, 2018