Wisconsin legislature

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Wisconsin turned a deeper shade of red, following last week's elections for the Legislature. Republicans gained a seat in the Assembly and picked up another vote in the Senate.

One big task facing state lawmakers in 2017 is to pass a new two-year state budget, and that includes addressing Wisconsin's $1 billion deficit in the transportation fund.

The nation continues to watch developments in the race for president, stemming from Donald Trump's offensive comments about women caught on tape in 2005. The fallout has Wisconsin state lawmakers talking. They're pondering whether the controversy surrounding Trump will affect races for the Legislature here.

Wisconsin state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has backed fellow Republican Trump for months. At a WisPolitics.com luncheon on Tuesday, he was asked about Trump's boasts that as a celebrity, he could freely kiss and grope women.

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A marathon session is in store Tuesday for the GOP-controlled state Senate. Lawmakers are scheduled to dispense with more than 100 bills before they adjourn for the years.

The Senate will vote on a measure that would have an impact on Milwaukee, making it tougher for cities to force lenders to sell zombie homes, or abandoned properties slated for foreclosure.

State Capitol
Justin Kern, Flickr

It’s been a busy session for Republicans who control the state Legislature. They passed several pieces of landmark legislation early in the two-year period. Those include a right-to-work law and a bill that is dismantling the Government Accountability Board. Yet, some hot button issues ended up dying in committee.

S Bence

UPDATE: The full state Senate is slated to take up the bill on February 16, 2016.

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On Thursday, GOP members of a state Senate committee advanced an amended bill to the full Senate that could ease the process of private companies buying municipal water utilities. The Republican-controlled Assembly has already said yes.

    

Wisconsin lawmakers will return to session on Tuesday. Their floor period ends in March, so they could start burning the midnight oil trying to pass dozens of bills.

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Wisconsin could soon assign a watchdog to each state agency. The person’s job would be to guard against government waste and fraud.

Some Republican lawmakers are pushing a bill that would set up an Office of Inspector General. It would employ more than a dozen new hires who would fan out among departments. The proposal is divisive.

Flickr/alumroot

This fall in Madison, a continued partisan divide seems likely as state lawmakers get busy. Republicans and Democrats are pushing widely different agendas. A couple factors -- including the end of Gov. Walker's presidential campaign -- could influence what bills pass.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says Republicans, who hold the majority in his house and the Senate, have a full slate of business. He outlined the party's plans at the Capitol late last week.

Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard and Rep. Joel Kleefisch invited city officials to an informational hearing on Wednesday, to explain a computer malfunction affecting the Milwaukee Police Department. The problem has resulted in several videotaped interrogations being inaccessible.

The two GOP legislators chair committees related to public safety and criminal justice, but Milwaukee Democrats accused the two of calling the hearing simply to slug the city politically.

Democrat Sen. Fred Risser kicked-off the meeting with a question.

robbyb, flickr

The Legislature’s budget committee, on Wednesday, began digging into Gov. Walker’s proposed budget for Wisconsin. Before the meeting, Republican leaders removed 14 policy items the governor had tucked into his plan. 14 of 49.

Among those removed was Walker’s proposal to make the Natural Resources Board an advisory one.

Dave Reid, Flickr

Republican leaders say Gov. Walker's budget proposals to help fund a new basketball arena and reshape UW System stand little chance of passage.

Wisconsin would ignore student scores this year - the first year schools administer the Badger Exam, under a bill the state Senate approved Tuesday.

Marti Mikkelson

Wisconsin lawmakers may decide in coming weeks whether to add e-cigarettes to the state’s indoor smoking ban.

On Wednesday, Republican representatives unveiled a bill to hold schools accountable for educating students.

Justin Kern

    

Monday is Inauguration Day in Wisconsin. Gov. Scott Walker will be sworn-in to a second term, while 99 members of the state Assembly and 33 Senators will also take the oath of office.

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