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Thursday, October 17, 2013

 5:59 PM 

Assembly adjourns

The Assembly has quickly moved through the remaining bills on its calendar and adjourned.

 5:33 PM 

Assembly backs crossbow bill

The Assembly has unanimously concurred in legislation establishing a crossbow hunting season that would run concurrently with the archery season for deer.

The bill originally passed the chamber in June, but was amended under a compromise with Senate backers to allow for an evaluation of the new season’s impact on the deer herd.

 5:19 PM 

Assembly passes increase in historic rehabilitation tax credit

The Assembly has passed legislation to increase the state’s historic rehabilitation tax credit 88-4, with one paired vote.

The bill -- which would increase the credit for qualified expenditures from 10 percent to 20 percent -- was amended to allow the Joint Finance Committee to reexamine the program in 2015 following a report on the credit from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the Department of Revenue and the State Historical Society.

It would then be allowed to sunset in 2017 unless the program is continued during that year’s budget process.

“In four years, this bill should pay for itself or be sunset,” Rep. Chad Weininger, R-Green Bay, said in a press conference prior to the session. He predicted that the credit would far exceed that requirement, noting Minnesota takes in $9 for every dollar spent in a similar program.

Unlike the other special session bills passed by the Assembly today, the historic credit measure was not taken up by the Senate earlier this week.

With that, we’re now back to the Assembly’s regular calendar.

 5:05 PM 

Assembly passes property tax cut

After exhausting the chamber’s 2.5-hour time limit on debating the bill, the Assembly has concurred in the Senate special session bill to provide a $100 million property tax reduction 82-12.

Although the measure passed with a large majority -- drawing applause from Republicans -- Dems continued to criticize the measure’s impact this afternoon

Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, said the bill would disproportionately affect wealthy property owners in the midst of funding cuts to schools and Medicaid.

“Serious tax policy reform takes longer than a week,” Sargent said.

Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, called Republicans’ tax policies “lazy.”

“We can do better than this and we should do better than this,” Hintz said.

Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, responded that he doesn’t meet “too many millionaires” knocking on doors in his district.

“This property tax reduction will go to hard-working middle class and even lower-middle class citizens in our state,” Nygren said.

 3:35 PM 

Debate continues on property taxes

The state Assembly has been debating the governor’s $100 million property tax cut proposal for nearly an hour, with Dems criticizing its impact on taxpayers and alleging that politics were behind the bill.

“The middle class deserves better than what we have in front of us,” said Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, arguing that the measure would only be “blunting the property tax increase that you passed in the budget.”

Instead, Barca touted a Dem amendment to move the funding to the first dollar credit, saying many taxpayers wouldn’t see an impact through the school equalization formula. Speaker Pro Tempore Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, eventually ruled that amendment not germane to the bill.

Barca also called the unveiling of the measure the same week Mary Burke entered the governor’s race, “just an interesting coincidence, I’m sure.”

Republicans fired back that their constituents’ property taxes would be lower for the fourth year in a row.

“We stand here today with the third tax cut of over $100 million in the state of Wisconsin,” said Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield.

Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, credited the actions of Republicans since taking control of the Legislature in 2011 for bolstering jobs and revenue to the state alike.

“It’s time to return the surplus that we have generated … back to the taxpayers,” Vos said.

 2:34 PM 

TIF bills pass

The Assembly has taken up two TIF bills first on the special session calendar, passing the bills for the towns of Brookfield and Somers on voice votes.

Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, acknowledged that the bills are intended for specific economic projects, but criticized the special session process, saying questions about the bills' impacts going forward remain unanswered.

"We really should always be taking the big picture of what the impact is on state policy overall," Hintz said.

Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Powers Lake, lauded the Somers TIF, saying it would complement new developments in the wake of Amazon.com's newly announced distribution center in Kenosha County.

 2:01 PM 

Assembly informal

After passing a series of resolutions, the Assembly has gone informal for 10 minutes. There's cake in the parlor for Rep. Dave Murphy's mother Beatrice, who turns 100 next week and was honored in the chamber today.

UPDATE -- 2:18 p.m.: We're back to take up the special session calendar.

 1:07 PM 

Assembly coming into session

The quorum call is underway in the Assembly. Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in a press conference that the chamber will take up special session legislation first.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

 7:33 PM 

Senate recesses without taking up mascot bill

The Senate has recessed until 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, at which point the chamber will begin debate on legislation overhauling the process of challenging race-based school mascots.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said the chamber will debate SB 317 until noon tomorrow under an agreement with the Minority Leader Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee. Following a vote, the bill would then be messaged to the Assembly.

UPDATE -- 9:16 p.m.: Fitzgerald Chief of Staff Dan Romportl writes in an email to Senate Republicans that the chamber will not convene tomorrow as announced during the session. SB 317 or its Assembly companion will now be brought to the floor on Nov. 5, which is the next scheduled Senate floor session.

 7:09 PM 

Senate concurs in Assembly bills

The state Senate has concurred in legislation altering the requirements placed on physicians informing patients about treatment options via voice vote.

The Senate has also concurred in what’s called the “Brown Jug” bill -- allowing retailers and bar owners to file civil actions against underage drinking offenders -- along with a bill allowing business crowdfunding and a grant to allow the relocation of a highway in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties.

 6:42 PM 

Senate sends landlord-tenant bill to governor

The Senate has concurred in an Assembly amendment to a bill overhauling regulations governing landlords and tenants, sending the legislation to the governor for signature.

The Senate originally passed the bill last month, but needed to pass the amendment after a technical change in the Assembly last week.

We’re now onto more Assembly bills, with the school mascot bill being moved to the foot of the calendar.

 6:25 PM 

School mascot bill passes Assembly

It was, however, closer than one might expect: The bill passed 52-41, with two paired votes. (Rep. Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay, voting yes and Rep. Al Ott, R-Forest Junction, voting no.)

The other Republicans voting against the measure were Reps. Ed Brooks, Scott Krug and Jeffrey Mursau.

Note: The post has been updated to correct that Rep. Steve Kestell voted yes on the measure.

 5:55 PM 

Senate passes no-call list tweak

The Senate has backed a measure to match the state’s do-not-call list with the federal no-call database, but not without some confusion.

The chamber originally approved an amendment to the bill authored by Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, via voice vote. Erpenbach said his amendment would raise the potential fines for violations of the no-call list to $1,000, and would allow civil actions against violators.

After the voice vote on Erpenbach's amendment, the Senate backtracked and voted to table it 18-15.

The bill then passed unanimsously.

 5:22 PM 

Senate moves on to regular calendar

After quickly passing the other bills on the special session agenda -- establishing new TIF districts in Brookfield and Kenosha -- by voice votes, the Senate is now in regular session. A fourth special session bill, which would bolster the state's historic rehabilitation tax credit, was not taken up.

 5:19 PM 

Senate passes property tax bill

After declaring an amendment from Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee -- which would have altered language that the resulted in a controversial sporting heritage grant -- non-germane to the bill, the Senate passed the property tax cut proposal 28-5.

 5:07 PM 

Senate rejects Dem amendment on property tax proposal

The Dem proposal to send the $100 million to the state's rainy day fund has been rejected 18-14.

The chamber then moved onto simple amendments to the bill, passing an amendment from Sen. Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, related to spending by small school districts on community programs.

 4:39 PM 

Assembly Dems pushing back against mascot nicknames bill

Democrats are decrying a bill that would change the process for addressing complaints over a school's use of Native-American themed mascots, but failed to refer the bill back to an Assembly committee.

The amended version of the bill only requires hearings on a mascot dispute if a petition is submitted with signatures equal to 10 percent of the total enrollment of the school district in question. Once a hearing starts, the burden is on the complainant to prove the mascot name promotes discrimination or stereotyping. Currently, only one complaint is needed to trigger the hearing and the burden of proof is on the school.

The bill would also move the hearing from the Department of Public Instruction to the Department of Administration.

Democrats railed against the bill, saying it promotes racism and was insensitive to the state's tribes. They also argued the threshold for triggering the hearing is far too high. Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, passed a print out to colleagues comparing the number of signatures required to trigger the hearing to the number of signatures required for ballot access for school board candidates. In all cases, the mascot signature threshold significantly exceeded the school board signature threshold.

Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Madison, tried to illustrate the offense created by Native-American themed mascots by describing a hypothetical school called the "Podunk Papists," with a mascot that dresses up like the pope and flashes his "ruby red shoes" as he dances.

"That kind of brings it down to our level, because I have a feeling some people in this room just do not understand what this means to the Native American population," Pope said.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca expressed skepticism that Gov. Scott Walker would sign the bill given his regular meetings with state tribal leaders.

"I don't believe that someone who has to meet with the tribes...would feel comfortable meeting with them after passing such a backwards thinking, racially insensitive bill," Barca said.

Rep. Dave Craig, R-Big Bend, said he doubted the sincerity of the Democrats in the body, asking why they hadn't called on schools in their districts to recant offensive names, referencing the Hurley High School Midgets. He also said the compromise worked on the bill is appropriate.

"We are leaving in place a process that treats both the accused and the accuser in a fair manner," Craig said.

 3:37 PM 

Dems seek to send proposed property tax cut to rainy day fund

Debate began on the governor’s property tax relief proposal in the Senate with a Dem substitute amendment to send that money to the state’s rainy day fund instead.

“What we’re doing is trying to help the governor get elected,” Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, said of the tax cut proposal. “That at the end of the day is what this bill is all about.”

Cullen said the $100 million cut makes for a “nice headline,” but would amount to $1.06 per month for each homeowner in the state.

He added that those families wouldn’t be offended by sending the money to the rainy day fund, and cautioned against giving away “money we don’t have.”

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said the measure is about re-election -- making good decisions so that the public believes the state is headed in the right direction.

“We’re in great shape right now,” Fitzgerald said, contrasting Republicans’ priorities with those in Dem-controlled Illinois and Minnesota. And he said Dems would also likely tout the tax cut after passage later today.

“I think this bill is significant,” Fitzgerald said. “I think it's $100 million in property tax relief that will be welcome.”

Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, responded that Republicans should support the amendment, arguing the cut “is being paid for with a deficit in the next biennium”

“It is nothing more than pandering for a press release to use a big number that sounds great to the public,” Jauch said.

“It will do nothing for many taxpayers around the state.”

 3:24 PM 

Assembly GOP votes down referral motion on speed limit bill

That referral motion went down on a 38-57 vote. Several amendments increasing penalties for speeding on highways with 70 mph speed limits have also failed so far. Rep. Paul Tittl's floor amendment would prompt a study on the safety of a "split" speed limit that would keep commercial vehicle limits at 65 mph.

We're on to the final speech before passage from Tittl.

For those who were interested, here was Schneider's letter opposing the bill that Rep. Fred Clark was mentioning.

 3:16 PM 

Senate set to begin

Senate President Mike Ellis has rung the bell and asked members to return to the chamber. We'll begin with the special session calendar.

 2:39 PM 

Dems try to refer speed limit increase back to committee

Assembly Democrats are attempting to refer the bill increasing the speed limit to the 70 on interstate highways, because they say they've not heard relevant experts and data justifying the speed increase.

Some Democrats indicated the bill might be something they could support, but there were not enough details on the effects of the legislation. They also expressed dismay that experts from the Department of Transportation did not testify, if only for information.

"This may be a good bill, but the frustration that I have is that the relevant experts were not consulted or were not able to bring this information to the committee," said Rep. Chris Danou, D-Trempealeau.

Rep. Fred Clark, D-Baraboo, also cited opposition from trucking company Schneider National to the bill due to potential increases in fatalities and losses in efficiency.

Rep. Paul Tittl, R-Manitowoc, said the bill isn't going to make the state interstate any less safe and that DOT engineers will determine where the 70 mph limit is safe. Tittl said he's been consulting with DOT on the bill, but when asked why law enforcement did not testify on the measure, Tittl said he didn't know.

"If they (law enforcement) felt passionate against it, they probably would have been there, but they didn't show up. I can't explain why someone didn't show up to a committee meeting, it was fairly well covered (in the media)."

Tittl also said the measure wasn't a "lobbyist bill," but was drawn up after looking at trends from surrounding states.

An inquiry of the Assembly Chief Clerk showed that only Tittl, Gary Biller of the National Motorists Association and Will Sandstrom, a local Madison resident known for his political bids and eccentric testimony.

 2:11 PM 

Assembly back in session

Although it sounds like SB 119, which would include Wisconsin in a regional emergency management assistance compact with other states and Canadian provinces, might not get to be taken up today because of some last minute concerns over what action would be authorized or prohibited in emergency situations.

It looks like this language in particular might be what concerns some lawmakers:

"The compact allows for the temporary suspension, to the extent authorized by 
law, of statutes or ordinances that impede the response to an emergency or disaster. "

It does not appear there is much language in the rest of the bill that would limit suspension of state statutes. The bill would likely need an amendment to specify limits to the above language, but Assembly leadership is still looking for further legal guidance on that issue.

 1:13 PM 

Assembly roll call in progress

We're about to start in the Assembly today. We'll have resolutions honoring the Honor Flight Network and WisconsinEye journalist Steve Walters, who was named as Journalist of the Year by the Milwaukee Press Club.

Our main calendar includes only two items that are expected to get significant debate: The amended bill on complaints over schools who use Indian names or references for mascots will receive a maximum of three hours of debate and the bill increasing the speed limit to 70 mph on interstate highways will receive a max of one hour of debate.

 12:42 PM 

Senate won't start before 2 p.m.

The state Senate had been tentatively scheduled to come in around 1 p.m. today, but Chief Clerk Jeff Renk says in an email the chamber won't convene until at least an hour later. Both caucuses are set to caucus after the Joint Finance Committee adjourns, and that hearing is still ongoing.

UPDATE -- 1:51 p.m.: The start time has now been pushed back to at least 2:30 p.m.

UPDATE -- 2:17 p.m.: The Legislature's website now has the Senate start pushed to 3 p.m.

UPDATE -- 2:59 p.m.: And now it's back to 3:20 p.m.

 9:23 AM 

Senate to take up property tax cut; both chambers consider mascot legislation

The Assembly and Senate will both be on the floor today, with the Senate set to take up Gov. Scott Walker's $100 million property tax cut pending approval by the Joint Finance Committee.

In addition to four special session bills, the Senate plans to take up legislation overhauling the process for challenging race-based mascots and nicknames.

The chamber's regular session calendar also includes Assembly measures altering the requirements for physicians informing their patients about treatment options, allowing for business crowdfunding, and relocating a highway in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties.

The Assembly, meanwhile, intends to take up the mascot bill and legislation to increase the maximum speed on freeways and expressways.

 6:01 PM 

GOP downs Dem bills on jobs; pulls bill allowing so-called "pedal pubs"

While the GOP voted down two bills that were aimed as job creation measures, Rep. Jeff Stone, R-Greendale, just moved to pull his bill, AB 169, that would allow municipalities to authorize and regulate so-called "pedal pubs" -- where patrons are served beer on quadricycles.

The bill was amended to change the bill from an "opt-in" system -- pedal pubs are allowed if a municipality expressly allows it in ordinance -- to an "opt-out" system -- pedal pubs are allowed unless a municipality expressly prohibits it.

 5:34 PM 

Tenant-Landlord bill passes the Assembly; Dems move on to pulling motions on job bills

The bill passed on a 57-37 vote. The bill will head to the Senate for one more vote.

The Dems are now trying to take up two of their jobs bills, starting with AB 47, a bill creating entrepreneurial tax credit access grants. The bill was brought up last session as part of Gov. Scott Walker's special session on jobs, but never reached the floor.

Author Rep. Fred Clark, D-Baraboo, said the bill would provide grants from WEDC to finance expenditures for small businesses in conjunction with loans from commercial lenders. The grants would be for expenditures that normally would have been eligible for tax credits but aren't made because of a lack of "upfront" funding.

Democrats said the bill was an inventive measure that would go a long way in helping small businesses make capital investments needed to grow.

"The war cry we've heard from day one of this session is jobs, jobs, jobs," said. Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, "We've been woefully negligent in not getting those bills for jobs here in Wisconsin and we continue to make the excuse, 'Well, they're going to come.' But they're not going to come unless we take affirmative action for our small businesses to succeed in this state.

UPDATE: That pulling motion failed and we're on to another Dem bill brought up during the special session that would create a refundable early-stage seed and angel investment tax credit.

 4:48 PM 

Assembly Dems call tenant-landlord measure a "horrible, horrible bill"

The Assembly is debating a revised bill from the Senate that would give more control to landlords in evictions, vehicle towing and tenant repayment for damages.

The Assembly has already passed its version of the wide-ranging bill, but is taking up a heavily amended Senate version today. Due to a technical amendment added by the Assembly author, the bill would require concurrence from the Senate.

The original bill would have shortened the timeframe for a tenant to appear in court when being evicted from a residence and allowed the court summons for eviction to be delivered by regular mail, rather than in person. It also would have allowed rental agreements to stipulate a tenant could be evicted if a crime is committed on the property. The original bill also allowed a landlord to tow an illegally parked vehicle without police first issuing a citation for the violation. Also included in the original bill were a range of prohibitions on local ordinances regulating landlord behavior and limiting tenant responsibility for damages.

The amended version of the bill made some significant changes to those provisions, eliminating a few entirely. The substitute amendment would only allow evictions in crimes where the tenant was not the victim of a crime and would allow domestic abuse situations to be used as a defense to eviction actions in court. The amended version would also require eviction to be delivered by certified mail and extends the timeline for eviction proceedings in court in comparison to the original bill.

Democrats decried the bill on the Assembly floor, with many representatives saying the Senate-version of the bill still guts tenant protections and takes the matter out of the hands of local officials.

"Right now, Wausau is discussing a possible landlord licensure program and this is an attempt to control blight in our city," said Rep. Mandy Wright, D-Wausau. "My concern here is that if we pass this bill, we will be overriding and preempting my city to create ordinances to solve its own problem."

Rep. Nick Milroy, D-South Range, and Rep. Corey Mason, D-Racine, have indicated they will abstain from the vote on concurrence.

 3:28 PM 

Rep. Stone taking lap as acting speaker pro tem on non-controversial bills

As this is his last Assembly floor period before he heads off to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, Rep. Jeff Stone, R-Greendale, is taking a ceremonial spin as Speaker Pro Tempore. There've been a few hiccups in the process, of course, which prompted him to make a quick explanation:

"I don't know how many of you have seen me in this seat, but when you're third-stringing it up here it's usually after midnight, so I'm not quite used to all the light coming in here," Stone said to laughter.

 3:15 PM 

Assembly passes first bill after hour of open debate

After an extensive back-and-forth debate between the Assembly Dems and GOP over jobs, the Assembly passed AB 17, allowing adopted residents to put their birth parents on their birth certificate, on a voice vote.

The Assembly also approved AB 248, which allows parents to freeze their children's credit to avoid identity theft, on a voice vote.

We're now on the crowd-funding bill, AB 350.

UPDATE: AB 350 bill passed on a voice vote.

 2:27 PM 

Barca slams GOP for inaction and United Sportsman grant controversy; Kramer pushes back

We're technically on debate for a relatively uncontroversial bill the allows adopted residents to add their birth parents names to their birth certificate. However, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca used his first speech of the floor period to say Republicans are not being bold in their aims for job creation.

Barca said in the last three-and-a-half months, only two of the seven Assembly committees regarding job creation and workforce development have met and that while Gov. Scott Walker's proposed workforce development package are all good ideas, there need to be more ideas brought up.

"Instead of seven bills, let's have 17 bills," Barca said, referencing Walker's package. "Better yet, let's have 27 bills."

Barca indicated his party would pull two bills to the floor from Dems that are focused on creating jobs.

Assembly Majority Leader Bill Kramer first took issue with the job numbers, pointing to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's statistics showing Wisconsin with one of the best economic growth rates in the nation.

"I just couldn't stand here after hearing that last bit from the other side of the aisle," Kramer said. "When we left in June, the Philly fed numbers were the gold standard, but now that we're on the top, they're not reliable."

Barca and other Dems came back and noted that the Philly Fed has said those numbers were never meant to be used for ranking purposes.

Barca also criticized the GOP for allegedly dodging the issue of the Sporting Heritage Grant Program, which has been the subject of controversy due to allegations the measure was inserted into the budget by former Assembly Speaker Scott Suder to specifically benefit the United Sportsman of Wisconsin Foundation.

The group came under scrutiny when it was discovered the group was not a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit and lawmakers raised questions about its ability to carry out the educational and training goals of the program. While it appeared the Department of Natural Resources would award the grant to USW, who was the sole applicant, they later rescinded the grant at the behest of Gov. Scott Walker.

Barca highlighted reporting that showed the Walker administration knew the grant award could put federal funding in jeopardy and said GOP inaction given that knowledge was "unacceptable."

"That's not what this state is about," Barca said. "it's always been about clean, transparent and open government and we have slipped so far."

Kramer pointed out a range of environmental groups who applied for seemingly non-competitive grants from the Department of Natural Resources while their non-profit status had lapsed.

"Maybe what we should be looking at is all of these grants," Kramer said.

UPDATE: Kramer's office provided documents they're referring to, showing River Alliance of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, River Revitalization Foundation and a range of other groups who received statutory grants from the DNR while they were found to be delinquent" according to the Department of Financial Institutions. We'll post those documents later today.

 2:17 PM 

Senate wraps up agenda

The Senate has passed the final two bills on its calendar for the day.

The chamber concurred in AB 27, which limits state agency contracting for legal services on a contingent fee basis, on a 23-10 vote.

Dems said the measure should be expanded to other agency contracting beyond the fees -- in which the payment for legal services is based on a financial award in the case -- but Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, called it “a step in the right direction.”

The Senate then concurred in AB 62, which expands the state’s definition of “intoxicant,” on a voice vote.

 1:29 PM 

Voter registration bill passes Senate

The final election-related bill on the Senate agenda today, SB 267, passed 18-15.

The bill requires that poll workers record the types of identification used to verify voters’ addresses during registration.

Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, said the additional requirements imposed on clerks invite “partisan gamesmanship.”

“By requiring more and more specificity, the chances are there will be errors made that have nothing to do with the legitimacy of voters,” Miller said.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, added that the measure creates “a real privacy issue” by making account numbers on bank statements available during a recount.

“If you let this go as is, your constituents are going to be pretty upset,” Erpenbach said.

Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, countered that the legislation would “secure that privacy information” by keeping it off the poll list.

“In the event of an accusation of fraud, there is a paper trail, there is documentation that law enforcement can follow,” Lazich said of the bill.

 1:16 PM 

Assembly set to take up tenant-landlord bill; crowd-funding measure

The Assembly is a few minutes away from starting, so just a quick run down of expected business today.

First, they'll elect the Speaker Pro Tem (widely expected to be GOP Rep. Tyler August), take up a few resolutions and then move on to the calendar of bills, which includes a bill that would allow Wisconsin businesses to engage in online crowdfunding. While most measures are expected to engender little debate, the tenant-landlord bill, SB 179, and the "Right the Rules" bill dealing with the Department of Financial Institutions, AB 277, will get some significant debate, based on agreement between the GOP and Dems.

 12:42 PM 

Senate passes elections bills

After quickly moving through the confirmations and first 10 bills on its agenda, the Senate began debating a series of bills related to elections.

SB 262, which establishes requirements for duplicate ballots, passed 22-11.

SB 264, which stipulates processes for securing ballot containers, passed 19-14.

Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, backed the proposal while acknowledging the controversy over ballot bags in Racine during in the course of his recall election win. Lehman also said, however, that the bill should not implicate the state’s local election officials.

Other Dems, however, said that no fraud was found in that election and that lawmakers shouldn’t be micromanaging clerks.

“Legislation like this just infers that there’s corruption that the local level, which there’s not,” said Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton.

Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin and the bill’s author, countered that she saw “a number of irregularities” when observing recall election, and that chief inspectors should be handling those containers.

And SB 265, which requires equal representation among election inspectors affiliated with political parties, passed 18-15.

“What’s the point? Why is this here?” asked Erpenbach.

“Where is the trust for the inspectors to do the job they are supposed to do?”

 10:57 AM 

Slight Senate delay

The Senate is now scheduled to begin at 11:15 a.m., according to an announcement from the chief clerk.

UPDATE -- 11:20 a.m.: The start time has now been pushed back to 11:30 a.m.

 9:17 AM 

Assembly to take up landlord-tenant bill; Senate to consider elections bills

Both houses of the Legislature will be on the floor today as they continue the fall floor period.

The Assembly, meeting for the first time this fall, has an agenda including a bill to alter regulations governing landlords and tenants.

The chamber passed the Assembly version of the landlord-tenant bill in June, but will take up concurrence in the Senate bill after that chamber passed an amended bill last month.

The calendar also includes a bill to allow business crowdfunding, rules changes for the Department of Financial Institutions, and a series of transportation-related bills.

The Senate agenda includes four election bills from Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, including one that would require clerks to record the type of proof of residence provided by residents registering to vote.

The bill is the only one that came out of committee on a 3-2 vote. All but one of the other bills on today's agenda passed out of committee 5-0. The other was a 4-1 vote.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

 1:20 PM 

Suder headed to Paper Council, Stone resigning from Assembly for PSC

Former Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder, who's been under fire in recent weeks for a DNR grant that went to a politically connected group with ties to him, is going to lobby for the Wisconsin Paper Council after previously accepting a post at the Public Service Commission.

He will be replaced as the PSC administrator of Water, Compliance and Consumer Affairs by Rep. Jeff Stone, who announced today he is resigning from the Legislature.

Suder will start his job as vice president of government relations with the Paper Council Oct. 7, the same day he was supposed to start with the PSC.

Stone's resignation will be effective Oct. 14.

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