MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A festive atmosphere is planned at the State Capitol Monday, as Wisconsin legislators begin their new session.
They’ll take their oaths of office at 2 p.m., and will attend separate receptions for each house.
Republicans have large enough majorities in both houses to pass anything they want – just like they did in the last session until moderate Senator Dale Schultz stopped the hardline conservatives from passing a mining bill with reduced environmental protections.
Mining will be the first major issue to be taken up in the new session – and there have been talks behind the scenes to create an incentive package for mining firms that’s more acceptable to both parties.
Incoming Assembly Speaker Robin Vos promises to at least listen to Democrats more closely, but Minority Leader Peter Barca says he’ll wait and see. He says Republicans have talked about bi-partisanship in the past, and then acted on socially-extreme issues. But Governor Scott Walker has told his GOP majority to stay away from hot button topics like right-to-work, and measures that could give Republicans a further advantage at the ballot box like redistricting did in November.
Instead, Walker wants lawmakers to focus on creating jobs, training workers, mining, tax cuts, and reforming education. Walker is gearing up for a re-election bid next year, and incoming Senate Democratic leader Chris Larson says the governor wants to portray himself to the voters as being more moderate.
Republicans have an 18 to 15 majority in the Senate, and a 59-39 edge in the Assembly.