By Scott Bauer, Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Revamped gun measures and tougher rules for payday lenders are among the laws set to take effect around the country on Jan. 1. But some of them may not be on the books for long.
This January, the statutes will kick in just as freshly elected governors and legislators arrive for work. And if new GOP majorities succeed in getting legislation repealed, the result may be sudden U-turns on issues that were only recently debated.
Before the November election, Democrats controlled legislatures in 27 states, with Republicans in charge of just 14. But after the nationwide Republican sweep, the GOP will soon control 26, the Democrats only 17. Control of others is split between the parties. The election also increased the number of Republican governors from 23 to 26.
With the switch in party control could come abrupt changes in the way some states handle government regulation, privatization and other matters.
Nowhere was the political shift more dramatic than in Wisconsin, where power in the Statehouse will shift wholesale from Democrats to Republicans. Already, incoming Republican Gov. Scott Walker and others would like to head off a law that makes it tougher for payday loan companies and auto lenders to do business in the state.Until Democrats pushed the law through the Senate and House in 2010, Wisconsin was the only state that did not regulate those industries, and consumer advocates complained that lenders were exploiting poor people by charging exorbitant interest rates.
Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle shepherded the bill into law. But Walker said the new regulations go too far, and that the outright ban on loans secured by an auto title isn't what many legislators want.