The Looming Danger of Lame Duck Sessions

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What kinds of decisions do you make when you’re about to lose power? Are you rational or wild? Do you extend a helping hand or burn every bridge?

A lame duck session is the legislating that gets done (by Congress or a state legislature) AFTER an election but BEFORE the new politicians are in place.

Now sometimes, very little changes in that lame duck session. But, it can be high season for political shenanigans or worse.

Prior to the 2016 election, North Carolina was a trifecta — the Republicans controlled the governorship, state senate and state house. Then, when the Republican governor lost his race to the Democrat, the Republican senate and house used the lame duck session right after the election to “strip the governor from the power to make cabinet appointments without Senate confirmation, name people to be trustees of the University of North Carolina and the ability to control hiring for about 1,200 state employees.

After this year’s midterms, there are 4 states where a Republican trifecta got broken up:

✦ Kansas: Democrat Laura Kelly won the governorship
✦ Michigan: Democrat Gretchen Whitmer won the governorship
✦ Wisconsin: Democrat Tony Evers won the governorship
✦ New Hampshire: Democrats flipped both the state senate and house

We need to be on High Alert in case the Republicans, who are losing their ability to pass GOP-friendly legislation, try anything to subvert democracy starting right now until the start of their next legislative session.

In fact, it’s happening already (with Wisconsin following the North Carolina 2016 playbook): GOP Legislatures try to curb Democratic governors’ power (dated Nov. 18)

If this is happening in your state, it’s time to get loud! Call your state legislator and tell them what you think of these subversive tactics. Be loud on social media. Alert the media if they’re not writing articles about it (or write your own op-ed.) These types of issues are usually litigated in the courts, but the court of public opinion is an important lever to push on.

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Categories: Explainers

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