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LEGISLATURE | NEARLY A GOP SUPERMAJORITY

Short of an outright supermajority, Republicans could still override Gov. Tony Evers

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Wisconsin Assembly

When Republicans fell two seats short of obtaining a supermajority in the Legislature, it cheered Democrats who feared GOP lawmakers might simply override Gov. Tony Evers’ vetoes if they had a two-thirds majority.

Republicans did reach that two-thirds threshold in the Senate. But they needed to win 66 of the 99 seats in the Assembly to have a supermajority in both houses. Instead, they got 64.

But the math changes in the Assembly if any Democratic members are absent.

Under the state Constitution, it takes a vote of two-thirds of the members present in both houses to override a veto, not just of those in office.

If three Democratic state representatives are missing — say, one resigns and two more are absent that week — but all the Republicans are present, the 64 GOP representatives would comprise the required two-thirds majority of the temporarily 96-member body.

While the stars would have to align, if Assembly lawmakers are already convened for a scheduled floor period and Republicans notice three Democrats absent, they can, with a two-thirds majority of lawmakers in favor, suspend the legislative rule requiring advance notice on votes, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau. They would then be able to override vetoed measures on the spot.

If there is not a scheduled floor period but Republicans want to schedule a vote to override a veto, they would have to follow the legislative rule requiring 24 hours’ notice in most cases to schedule a vote.

A spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, did not respond to a request to comment for this story.

Overriding vetoes could be tempting for Republicans under Evers. The Democratic governor has vetoed 146 measures so far, including dozens of high-priority GOP bills regarding education, elections and public safety. Only one former governor, John J. Blaine, vetoed more — 167 in the 1920s.

But Evers also just got reelected to another four-year term. And Democrats worked hard to keep him in office, in large part to preserve the power of his veto, Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer, D-Racine, said in a statement.

“It is our responsibility to show up this legislative session and make sure we uphold Governor Evers’ vetoes,” she said. “We will be working closely with every member to ensure we have the numbers we need during every floor period.”

In the 2019-20 Assembly session, there were several floor periods — the scheduled times during which lawmakers debate and vote on legislation — during which one Democrat was absent. Two were absent during another floor period. There was just one day, in March 2019, when two Assembly Democrats were gone the whole day and another was gone for part of it. In that legislative session, Republicans were absent more often than Democrats.

Top 10 Wisconsin political stories of 2021 (based on what you, the readers, read)

2021 was another big year in Wisconsin politics. Sen. Ron Johnson said some things. Voters elected a new state superintendent. Gov. Tony Evers and Republicans clashed over mask mandates. Michael Gableman threatened to jail the mayors of Madison and Green Bay. Here are 10 political stories you, the readers, checked out in droves.

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Since the start of the outbreak, Gov. Tony Evers has issued multiple public health emergencies and a series of related orders. 

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Sen. Ron slammed the impeachment over the weekend as “vindictive and divisive,” and possibly a “diversionary operation” by Democrats to distract from security lapses at the U.S. Capitol.

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"I wouldn’t run if I don’t think I could win," said Johnson, who is undecided on a re-election bid. 

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The board had previously not required masks in schools after some in the public voiced opposition.

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With a new order announced, Republicans may be forced to start the process all over again to vote down the governor's emergency order and accompanying mask mandate, but the most likely outcome appears to be an eventual court decision.

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Fort McCoy officials acknowledge there were initial problems with food supply, but that and other issues are being addressed.

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The idea is in its infancy and all options, including declining to pursue anything, are on the table.

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Gableman has asked the court, which plans to take up the matter on Dec. 22, to compel the two mayors to meet with him.

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Deborah Kerr said she has also voted for Republicans and tells GOP audiences on the campaign trail for the officially nonpartisan race that she is a "pragmatic Democrat."

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Limbaugh died Wednesday at 70.

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