Exiting US governor signs laws limiting power of his successor

Outgoing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker passed measures that would limit his Democratic successor's powers (AFP Photo/Darren Hauck)

Chicago (AFP) - The Republican governor of Wisconsin signed into law Friday a package of bills that limit the powers of his Democratic successor, who promised a court challenge.

The measures were passed by Republicans during a lame-duck session of the Midwestern US state's legislature last week, in what they said was an effort to level the power balance with the Democrat who will take over the governor's office in January.

Tony Evers defeated incumbent Governor Scott Walker in the November midterm elections -- a stinging loss for the GOP in a key swing state that helped Donald Trump win the presidency in 2016.

The new laws will, among other things, curtail the incoming governor's ability to set certain rules and policies after he is sworn into office.

Critics said the bills were part of a concerted effort by Republicans in a handful of states where they control the legislature but have lost executive offices to deny power to incoming Democrats.

"Despite all the hype and hysteria out there, these bills do nothing to fundamentally diminish executive authority," Walker said in a statement.

Governor-elect Tony Evers vowed to fight the new laws in court, criticizing Republicans for "petty, political fights."

"Governor Walker chose to ignore and override the will of the people of Wisconsin. This will no doubt be his legacy," Evers said in a statement.

Hundreds of protesters descended on the Wisconsin capitol last week as the legislature debated the measures.

A similar scene played out in Michigan this week when the Republican-controlled legislature also passed limits on the incoming Democratic governor.