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Thursday, December 4, 2014

 4:20 PM 

Senate committees announced

Sen. Luther Olsen will return next session as Education chair, but one of the Legislature's leading opponents of Common Core will head a new Committee on Education Reform & Government Operations.

Sen. Paul Farrow, who will lead the new committee, has expressed a desire to repeal the Common Core standards, and insiders believe the second education committee was created to address a push by conservatives to do that. Olsen, R-Ripon, has opposed the legislation, which didn't make it out of his Education Committee.

Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald today announced members of 15 standing committees, along with 10 joint committees, the Building Commission and the appointment of Rick Gudex, R-Fond du Lac, to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Board.

Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, will co-chair Joint Finance, while Olsen will serve as vice chair and Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, was re-appointed as well. Joining them are Sens. Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst and Leah Vukmir of Wauwatosa.

Sen.-elect Howard Marklein of Spring Green rounds out the Senate GOP's six slots on the body.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

 3:23 PM 

Vos announces Assembly committees

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos today announced 32 standing committees for the 2015-2016 session, including new committees on Mental Health Reform and Public Benefit Reform.

Vos, R-Rochester, said the new committees reflect his caucus' hopes to expand on mental health bills passed last session and to address "a large number of entitlement reforms."

"We need to weed out fraud, waste and abuse to ensure that people who really need temporary assistance are getting it," Vos said.

The announcement would cut the number of standing committees from 36 at the beginning of the current session. The Government Operations and State Licensing and Rural Affairs committees were repealed in October of 2013, while committees on Urban Education, State and Federal Relations, State and Local Finance, and International Trade and Commerce have been dropped.

The chamber will also have a Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee in the next session -- instead of separate Criminal Justice and Public Safety and Homeland Security committees. In addition, the current Jobs, Economy and Mining panel will be split into separate committees on Jobs and the Economy and on Mining and Rural Development.

Monday, December 1, 2014

 3:02 PM 

Leibham resigns state Senate seat one month early

State Sen. Joe Leibham announced today he is resigning his Senate seat a month ahead of his scheduled departure as he pursues another job.

Leibham, R-Sheboygan, opted against seeking re-election to the 9th SD this fall to instead run for the GOP nomination in the 6th CD. He finished second in a three-way Republican primary for the open congressional seat.

Leibham's term in the Senate was to end early next month with the new crop of lawmakers being sworn in. But he said in a statement his resignation will be effective at 4 p.m. today.

“In the interest of considering future employment opportunities while being compliant with state law, I must resign my position as State Senator for Wisconsin's 9th Senate District," Leibham said.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

 12:49 PM 

Senate Dems elect Shilling leader, Hansen assistant leader

The Senate Democratic caucus today elected Sen. Jennifer Shilling as minority leader and re-elected Sen. Dave Hansen assistant leader.

Shilling, D-La Crosse, ran unopposed after Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, announced yesterday he wouldn't seek re-election and threw his support behind Shilling.

Hansen, D-Green Bay, was also unopposed, as was Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, who was re-elected caucus chair, and Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, who was re-elected caucus vice chair.

--By David Wise

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

 4:17 PM 

Barca re-elected minority leader

Assembly Dems this afternoon re-elected Peter Barca of Kenosha to serve as minority leader in the upcoming session.

Barca defeated Evan Goyke of Milwaukee to retain the post. Goyke told the caucus Dems need to convey more substantive and more innovative ideas despite "obstacles beyond our control."

"We are not victims," Goyke said.

Rep. Chris Danou, who nominated Goyke, was more blunt, saying, "We are in a results-oriented business, and I think the results speak for themselves."

"It is time for a new generation to take up the leadership mantle," said Danou, D-Trempealeau.

Barca told the caucus the next two successive elections -- one in a presidential year, the other with U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin on the ballot -- would be better for the party, noting the "headwinds" facing Dems both at the top of the ticket and nationally.

He also said vulnerable members met their goals for resources and outreach, and that each of the three Dem incumbents to lose out-performed the top of the ticket.

"If our candidates that just ran did poorly and the rest of the ticket did well, I wouldn't even ask for your vote,” Barca said.

Rep. Dana Wachs, D-Eau Claire, said in nominating Barca that he had "never in my life met a person with more energy, more tenacity, more knowhow and ability."

"Now is not the time for inexperienced hands on the wheel,” Wachs said.

- By Staff

 9:12 AM 

Larson drops out of Senate Dem leadership race, backs Shilling

Sen. Chris Larson posted to his Facebook page this morning that he will not seek re-election as minority leader and is instead backing Sen. Jennifer Shilling.

Shilling, D-La Crosse, announced last week she was considering a bid for the post after Senate Dems lost a seat in last week's elections.

"I called Jen Shilling last night to let her know I would be voting for her and would be encouraging my supporters to unite behind her as well," Larson wrote. "I hope for a united caucus as we prepare to take on the incredible threat ahead. We will do well under her guidance and leadership. I will also be focusing more on helping our community and continuing to serve my neighbors in the 7th senate district."

Senate Dems meet tomorrow to elect caucus leaders for the next session.

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