The Latest: Democrats want to stop paying outside attorneys

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on a judge blocking Wisconsin Republicans' lame-duck laws (all times local):

3:25 p.m.

Democratic lawmakers are asking their Republican counterparts to stop paying outside attorneys representing the Legislature after a judge blocked the GOP's lame-duck laws.

Republican lawmakers passed laws limiting Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul's powers. The laws allow lawmakers to intervene in lawsuits and hire their own attorneys rather than use Kaul's Justice Department lawyers.

Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess blocked the laws Thursday, ruling the Legislature passed them during an illegal session.

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz and Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling sent letters to GOP leaders Thursday afternoon asking them stop paying outside attorneys hired under the lame-duck laws.

Republicans hired Misha Tsyetlin at $500 an hour to defend the lame-duck laws in two lawsuits. They're also planning to hire outside counsel to defend Wisconsin's abortion restrictions in a federal case.

Aides for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald didn't immediately respond to emails.

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2:50 p.m.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers says he needs more time to decide how to use powers a judge restored to him by blocking Wisconsin Republicans' lame duck laws.

Wisconsin Republicans passed the laws limiting Evers' powers — including his ability to pull the state out of lawsuits — in a December lame-duck session. The GOP also confirmed 82 of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker's appointments during the session.

Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess found the lame-duck session illegal Thursday and voided the laws and confirmations. Evers moved within hours of Niess' order to pull Wisconsin out of a multistate lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, fulfilling a campaign promise. But he told reporters he needs more time to "digest" the ruling before making any further moves.

The clock is likely ticking for Evers. Republicans have vowed to appeal and it's likely they'll ask an appellate court to seek a stay of Niess' order soon.

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1:10 p.m.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul has filed a motion to withdraw the state from an ongoing federal lawsuit seeking repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Kaul filed the motion Thursday after fellow Democrat, Gov. Tony Evers, ordered him to withdraw Wisconsin from the lawsuit.

Kaul had been blocked from taking action under a law passed by the Republican Legislature in a lame-duck session shortly before he took office. But a Dane County circuit judge on Thursday ruled that the laws were unconstitutionally passed, giving Evers and Kaul a window to take action.

Republicans say they will appeal the ruling, which could result in a higher court putting Thursday's decision on hold.

Both Kaul and Evers campaigned on wanting to withdraw from the multi-state lawsuit.

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12:20 p.m.

Gov. Tony Evers is pulling Wisconsin out of a multistate lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act after a judge blocked lame-duck laws prohibiting him from withdrawing the state from legal actions.

Evers had promised during his campaign last year to pull Wisconsin out of the ACA lawsuit. Republican lawmakers stopped him cold, though, after passing lame-duck bills in December that prohibited him from withdrawing from lawsuits without legislative approval.

Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess issued a temporary injunction Thursday blocking the lame-duck laws, ruling that the Legislature had convened illegally when it passed them.

Evers' attorney sent a message to the state Department of Justice less than two hours after Niess issued the ruling ordering the withdraw from the ACA action.

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12:05 p.m.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers says a ruling blocking Wisconsin Republicans' lame-duck laws is a victory.

The GOP passed the laws in a December extraordinary session. The legislation limits both Evers and Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul's powers.

Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess ordered a temporary injunction Thursday blocking the laws, ruling that extraordinary sessions are illegal because the state constitution doesn't provide for them. Republicans have vowed to appeal.

Evers issued a statement calling the ruling a victory for the people of Wisconsin. He accused Republican lawmakers of overplaying their hand by using an illegal process to accumulate more power for themselves. He says he hopes the state can move beyond this "disappointing chapter."

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11:45 a.m.

Republican legislative leaders are vowing to appeal a judge's ruling blocking lame-duck laws limiting the governor and attorney general's powers.

Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess issued a temporary injunction Thursday blocking the laws.

The injunction is part of lawsuit a coalition of liberal-leaning groups filed in January. They argue that the Legislature passed the laws during an illegal extraordinary session. That's an unscheduled floor period that majority party leaders can call.

Niess found that the state constitution doesn't provide for such sessions. The Legislature's attorneys argue Niess' ruling leaves thousands of statutes passed during extraordinary session over the years vulnerable to legal challenges.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald issued a joint statement saying they'll appeal and Niess' ruling creates legal chaos. Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke tweeted that he isn't surprised a Dane County judge has issued a partisan ruling.

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11:10 a.m.

A judge has issued a temporary injunction blocking Wisconsin Republicans' contentious lame-duck laws limiting the powers of Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, both Democrats.

Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess issued the injunction Thursday. He refused the Legislature's request to put the order on hold.

Republicans passed the lame-duck laws during an all-night extraordinary session in December just weeks before Evers and Kaul took office. An extraordinary session is a previously unscheduled floor period initiated by majority party leaders.

A coalition of liberal-leaning groups filed a lawsuit in January arguing such sessions are illegal. They contend the Wisconsin Constitution allows legislators to convene only at such times as set out in a law passed at the beginning of each two-year session or at the governor's call.