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Thursday, April 15, 2010

 10:49 AM 

Hraychuck off Assembly committee as clean energy bill comes to a vote

Rep. Ann Hraychuck, D-Balsam Lake, was noticeably absent this morning at the executive session of the Assembly's Special Committee on Clean Energy Jobs, which met to vote on the sweeping energy conservation proposal.

Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison and the co-chair of the committee, said Hraychuck was removed following requests from Republicans that the panel was too Dem-dominated. Without Hraychuck, there are six Democrats on the committee and three Republicans.

Black said he didn't agree with the decision to remove Hraychuck, which he said was made by Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan.

Rep. Mike Huebsch, R-West Salem, said he wasn't aware of any complaints about imbalance on the committee and suspected that the decision was made to get Hraychuck out of a tough vote on the "Clean Energy Jobs Act."

The committee met briefly this morning before the full Assembly went to the floor around 10:45 a.m. The executive session will continue when the Assembly goes to caucus.

Republicans assailed the proposal, saying it will cause utility rates to skyrocket for homeowners and businesses and cost jobs. Huebsch said the substitute amendment that scales back the proposal strips away parts of the bill that were "environmental statements," but did nothing to address cost concerns.

Black said the bill "will make Wisconsin a center of a new, clean energy economy that will keep jobs here instead of shipping them to China."

Republican members intend to offer eight amendments to the bill when the session resumes. The first would have the state follow the federal government's lead on renewable portfolio standards instead of setting new state goals, a central element of the bill.

The bill sets a goal of having 25 percent of the state's energy generated from renewable resources by 2025. The GOP amendment would instead tie the renewable portfolio standard to the level set by the federal government.

Another amendment would remove the mandate for a 2 percent reduction in energy consumption. Also proposed are amendments to eliminate the moratorium on the building of new nuclear power plants, and one to allow nuclear power generation to be counted toward renewable portfolio standards.

Black said he expects the legislation to pass the committee today and come to the Assembly floor for a vote next week.

UPDATE: Assembly Minority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, said he didn't ask for a Dem to be removed from the special committee.

"I never complained to have anyone taken off a committee," Fitzgerald said. "That's what happens when there's a dead bill and they're trying to protect their member."

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