Calls for bipartisanship will be tested early
After a contentious last two years in Madison, a new State Legislature took office Monday. Leaders for both parties promised more bipartisanship the next two years.
"We have a lot of issues to deal with. Hopefully we can leave many of the contentious issues behind us," said the new Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington).
Republicans will once again have full control of the State Assembly, the State Senate and the governor's office.
One of the first things on their agenda is passing legislation that would make it easier to open a new iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin. That effort failed last year. The idea was to fast-track the proposed mine and its potential for hundreds of new jobs.
Democrats, who then controlled the State Senate, said the measure reduced too many environmental regulations.
It's not publicly known yet what, if any, changes there will be this time around. However, Democrats say it will show whether Republicans are serious about bipartisanship.
"It really will set the tone especially as we enter into the budget process which is always, you know, somewhat cantankerous among the two sides," said State Rep. Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska).
"If we can start out with a positive vote, a bipartisan vote, on the mining bill I think that will be a tone that carries through the next two years," he added.
Both parties are promising to focus on jobs and the economy. Democrats say they hope to help pass legislation to improve worker training in the state.
"The big thing we want the people of Wisconsin to know is that we're looking to work in a bipartisan way with Republicans," said the new Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee).
Vos says more civility can mean more progress.
"Between now and the end of the session, we are hopefully going to have one of the most productive in our state's history," said Vos.
Republican Scott Fitzgerald remains as Senate Majority Leader. Democrat Peter Barca remains as Assembly Minority Leader.
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