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 1:24 PM 

Senate signs off on Assembly amendment to unemployment extension

An extension of unemployment benefits cleared the Senate today after Republicans signed off on an Assembly provision maintaining a one-week delay before laid off workers can begin collective benefits.

Dem Sen. Lena Taylor slammed Republicans for what she called a “flip flop of extraordinary measures” after they supported a Dem amendment last month to eliminate the one-week delay. Republicans inserted the provision in the state budget, and it kicks in come January.

The delay is projected to save the state’s troubled unemployment insurance fund an estimated $41 million to $56 million annually.

But the Assembly rejected the amendment, approving the legislation with the one-week delay still intact.

The Senate concurred on the Assembly amendment to restore the one-week delay along party lines 19-14, clearing the way for the bill to head to the guv’s desk. Gov. Scott Walker has said he supports the extension and the one-week delay.

Taylor accused the Senate GOP of being afraid to oppose the Dem amendment during the first vote, especially with recall elections looming for six Republicans and three Dems later this month.

“It’s a shell game,” Taylor said. “It’s the we’ll pretend we’re for it because we know we’re on the hot seat and we’ll let the Assembly do our dirty work.”

Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine and the bill’s sponsors, accused Dems of delaying the extension through the amendment, saying the bill should have been approved unaltered the first time it came before the chamber.

He also rejected suggestions that Republicans were hurting workers, saying the GOP majority quickly pulled together the legislation and a joint hearing after the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council recommended approving the extension. By contrast, he charged, Dems showed no initiative in moving a bill of their own.

“People do not care about political games,” Wanggaard said. “They are not interested in people posing for pictures. They want us to help them.”

That prompted cries from Dems that they had pushed for the bill months earlier.

 12:05 PM 

There's the bell

President Mike Ellis has rung the bell calling senators to the chamber.

UPDATE: 12:07 p.m. -- Dems are still in caucus. Ellis says the chamber will start the process of the extraordinary session and then likely break to await Dems.

UPDATE: 12:09 p.m. -- Dems have started to trickle into the chamber for roll call.

 8:58 AM 

Senate to take up unemployment extension

The Senate will be in session today to take up an extension of unemployment benefits using federal funds.

The Senate originally approved the legislation with a Dem amendment that would eliminate a one-week delay before benefits kick in for unemployed workers. But the Assembly rejected the provision, and the Senate is expected to concur with the Assembly version of the bill.

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