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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

 5:38 PM 

Assembly adjourns

After a motion from Rep. Barca -- which would have withdrawn his resolution on a Sept. 22 jobs special order from committee -- is rejected 37-60, the Assembly has adjourned.

 5:34 PM 

Waterways bill passes

AB 177, which would adjust the timing requirements for hearings and permitting for structures near navigable waterways, has passed the on a 65-32 vote.

Two Dem amendments were tabled.

 5:30 PM 

Two more bills passed

The Assembly passed AB 32, which would exempt a prohibition on communications from lawmakers with public dollars following a state of emergency declaration, by a 91-6 vote.

The chamber then unanimously backed AB 81, which would increase the potential fines for selling a disabled parking card to an unauthorized driver.

 5:11 PM 

Barca asks for meeting on jobs bills

The Assembly has stalled on its calendar after Dem leader Peter Barca asked unanimous consent to set special order for next Thursday to focus on jobs bills.

Barca said the Assembly Jobs Committee should have been meeting all over the state to focus on jobs issues, blasting Republicans for not scheduling any Dem jobs bills from January for a committee hearing.

He also said venture capital investment and small business initiatives need to be helped "immediately," saying unemployment has gone up the last two months.

Barca said Dems were "extending their hands" to GOP leaders.

"This is too important a topic to wait another month and a half," Barca said, referring to the single day scheduled for floor action in the Assembly this month.

Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald said he was glad that Dems had finally started to talk about jobs, and said some of the Dem bills in question would eventually pass.

"I'll sit down, I like some of these bills here," said Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, saying three Dem bills were on the calendar today.

"The problem is, is that 'the sky is falling,' that argument's not working for you guys any more. ... We took this state in the right direction in the first six months of this session," Fitzgerald said.

"Hopefully we can get some leadership out of Washington to get some job activity going," he added. "Doubling down on stimulus money that didn't work the first time around, I hope that isn't the answer."

UPDATE -- 5:23 p.m.: Barca's resolution has been referred to the Org Committee.

 4:51 PM 

CDFI tax credit passes

After a delay, Rep. Scott Suder announces that lawmakers have agreed to name a tax credit for community development financial institutions after the late Rep. Steve Hilgenberg.

Hilgenberg, a Dodgeville Dem, was the original author of the bill. He died in March.

AB 211 passed 92-5.

 4:14 PM 

More JCRAR bills moved to committee

The Assembly will take up a bill on the permitting process for structures near waterways at the end of the day.

Meanwhile, AB 195 has been referred to the Natural Resources Committee and AB 196 has been sent to the Elections and Campaign Reform Committee.

 3:57 PM 

Assembly passes small business board changes

The Assembly has concurred in SB 47 on a voice vote.

The chamber turned away three Dem amendments. Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said the changes would have more closely mirrored a bill that passed unanimously last session.

He asked GOP leaders for bipartisanship, saying they should "be consistent" with their votes last session.

"Have a stronger bill, one that's more meaningful," Barca said.

GOP Reps. John Nygren of Marinette and Pat Strachota of West Bend said economic development in the state has changed since that bill moved through the chamber last session, particularly noting the replacement of the Commerce Department with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

One more protester has been removed for filming the chamber.

 3:18 PM 

Radcliffe asks to allow video recordings in gallery

State Rep. Mark Radcliffe rose prior to a vote on tabling an amendment to ask to suspend the chamber's rule banning video recordings from the gallery.

The Black River Falls Dem said state troopers and the audience shouldn't be put in harm's way unnecessarily, and that watching law enforcement drag otherwise quiet individuals out of the gallery was "disturbing."

The Assembly is currently informal.

UPDATE -- 3:44 p.m.: A vote to suspend the rules fails 37-60.

Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, asked Radcliffe to remove his motion on the condition that the lawmakers can discuss it later, and Dem leader Peter Barca said the issue should be drafted and potentially discussed at Assembly Org.

Radcliffe declined to withdraw his motion.

"Thanks for nothing, gentleman from the 64th," said Radcliffe, responding to Barca. He said if lawmakers want to talk about the issue, "I'm here, let's talk right now."

 3:04 PM 

Assembly paused while officers remove protesters

Debate on SB 47 -- to alter the Small Business Regulatory Review Board -- was interrupted by protesters in the gallery taking videos.

One man was dragged out by law enforcement, after which another woman continued to film. The Assembly is informal as officers remove her.

UPDATE -- 3:06 p.m.: The chamber is back in.

 1:27 PM 

Ellis ribs Erpenbach about possible House bid

Senate President Mike Ellis had some fun today at the expense of Sen. Jon Erpenbach, who’s been mulling a bid for the 2nd CD

Ellis, R-Neenah, joked that someone who’s not running for Congress should lead the chamber in the Pledge of Allegiance before giving Erpenbach, D-Middleton, that responsibility.

Toward the end of the brief floor period, Erpenbach asked what order of business the floor was on.

After Ellis told him which one, he added, “We are unless you want to do something like make an announcement.”

“What seems to be your interested in the 2nd Congressional District race?” Erpenbach asked of Ellis.

“I’m doing my best to get rid of you,” Ellis said.

 1:22 PM 

Senate puts off administrative rules until October

Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald indicated today the Senate will take up four administrative rules when it returns to the floor in October.

Three of the rules are regulations from the Department of Natural Resources and deal with emissions. The Senate agreed to put the legislation on the delayed calendar, allowing the Senate to take them up the next time it convenes.

The fourth is legislation prohibiting the Government Accountability Board from promulgating any rules regarding campaign finance regulations beyond what's allowed under state law.

According to Fitzgerald's office, the chamber was required by statute to take up the bills today. By putting them on the delayed calendar, it essentially grants lawmakers more time to work on them in committee.

 1:12 PM 

King, Shilling take oath in Senate chamber

Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler today swore in new Dem Sens. Jessica King and Jennifer Shilling.

Both had already taken the oath in their home districts ahead of today’s ceremony.

After taking the oath, the chamber gave them a standing ovation and they signed the Senate’s official registry.

A group of Assembly Dems waited off the Senate floor to cheer for their former colleague Shilling as her name was called for the roll.

 11:14 AM 

Assembly quorum call underway

Lawmakers are milling around the Assembly floor as the quorum call has begun.

The chamber is expected to go into caucus following the opening festivities.

In addition to the first day for two new state senators, today is the first day on the floor for new Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, who was inaugurated late last month after her special election victory in the 48th AD.

 9:08 AM 

Fitzgerald defends light September workload as Legislature heads back into session

Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald is defending the Assembly’s plan to go on the floor just one day this month and said today's session has votes that will help the state economy.

Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, was questioned about the calendar during an appearance on WTMJ radio yesterday afternoon.

He said the Assembly’s workload was normal for a September floor period and pointed to the various measures lawmakers approved early in the session as evidence they’ve been working to improve the state’s climate for job creation.

"We are getting back after that (now)," he said.

He also said things will ramp up in October and blamed the light September floor period on the Senate recall elections this summer, saying they put some legislation on hold. That includes the venture capital bill, co-authored by Sen. Alberta Darling, the River Hills Republican who faced recall.

Fitzgerald said residents have to “figure out if we can do our work or if someone takes a tough vote” they’ll face a recall election.

“Do we want permanent elections here in Wisconsin?” he asked.

Today is the only day either house currently has scheduled to be on the floor for September, with much of the work being done in committee in preparation for the October floor period. The legislative calendar in January set out today through Sept. 22 for possible session days and then Oct. 18 through Nov. 3.

The Senate plans a ceremonial swearing in of new members Jessica King, D-Oshkosh, and Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse. It also has a couple of resolutions on the calendar and plans to send some administrative rules back to JCRAR so the committee has more time to work on them.

The Assembly also plans to send back several rules to JCRAR and to vote on legislation moving back Wisconsin’s presidential primary and new tax credits for investments in a community development financial institution.

State Dem Party Chair Mike Tate knocked the GOP, saying “I guess now that tax breaks for the super-rich have been made law, Scott Walker and the Republicans can take the month off.”

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