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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

 2:11 PM 

Fitzgerald: Right-to-work the most important jobs bill Legislature will take up this session

Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald called right-to-work the most important jobs bill lawmakers will take up over the next two years, saying passage will send a message to employers nationally.

Fitzgerald opened the debate by largely recounting the testimony he gave yesterday during a public hearing before the Labor and Government Reform Committee. After he concluded, Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, challenged Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, to identify a single job in Wisconsin that requires mandatory union membership after the majority leader said the bill is about worker freedom.

Fitzgerald declined to answer the question, drawing catcalls from the gallery. He said the question does not address why the Senate is on the floor today, arguing the debate should be around whether the legislation will have an impact on Wisconsin's economy, noting headlines about sluggish job growth in recent years.

"There’s a bill before us today that certainly sends a signal nationwide that Wisconsin now can be viewed in a different light than we were before," Fitzgerald said, singling out companies looking to locate or expand in Wisconsin.

Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, shot back the bill was a "Hail Mary to please outside special interest groups." She took a jab at Gov. Scott Walker for his national travels as he considers a bid for president while the state's economy is stagnant and wages are about to drop even further.

"This bill is going to drive down family wages, period," she said.

Shilling challenged Republicans not to turn their backs on the friends back home who will be hurt by the bill.

"Who will be the hero for the future of our state?" she asked.


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