In his State of the State address on Tuesday night, Governor Tony Evers stated that he was keeping one of his campaign promises and was instructing Attorney General Josh Kaul to remove Wisconsin from the federal lawsuit to declare the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional. The Republican leadership who control the majorities in both houses stated that the governor no longer had authority to do that as a result of the legislation that was passed during their lame duck sessions last December.
Today Governor Evers walked back his statement and said he was simply withdrawn his authority to participate in the suit. Apparently this nuance is acceptable but won’t affect the state’s standing in the lawsuit.
So…with the status quo in full effect…and a new blow to potential bipartisan co-operation having landed in Madison…where do we go next?
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers Wednesday walked back a vow he made to withdraw the state from the Affordable Care Act lawsuit less than 24 hours after making the commitment in his first State of the State address.
“The governor has not directed the attorney general to take any specific course of action, he has simply withdrawn his authority for this lawsuit,” Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said in a statement.
Evers’ reversal comes after the release Wednesday of a memo from the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau that splashed cold water on the governor’s plans to withdraw Wisconsin from an ongoing multi-state lawsuit seeking to invalidate the ACA.
The memo, sent to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, states there is no legal way for the new governor to fulfill his campaign promise to withdraw the state from the suit.
“There is thus no provision … allowing the governor to request, require or approve the attorney general to compromise or discontinue an action,” LRB attorney Sarah Walkenhorst wrote. “It is only the Joint Committee on Finance that has the authority to approve any compromise or discontinuance of an action in which the attorney general’s participation was requested.”
Lay on, Macduff