Legislative Leadership Outlines Priorities

Members of what will be the 2013-14 Wisconsin Legislature have caucused to elect leaders for the coming session, and those elected have begun to release statements about their legislative priorities.

Following is a list of the new leadership and a summary of priorities for each caucus.

Assembly Republicans

  • Speaker, Rep. Robin Vos
  • Majority Leader, Rep. Scott Suder
  • Speaker Pro Tempore, Rep. Bill Kramer
  • Asst. Majority Leader, Rep. Jim Steineke
  • Caucus Chair, Rep. Joan Ballweg
  • Caucus Vice Chair, Rep. John Murtha
  • Caucus Secretary, Rep. Mary Williams
  • Caucus Sgt. At Arms, Rep. Sam Kerkman

The departure of Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald, who gave up his Assembly seat in his unsuccessful bid to fill U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl’s seat, meant there was a vacancy at the top of the GOP leadership. The caucus unanimously voted to elect Rep. Robin Vos speaker. Rep. Vos said his legislative priorities include producing a balanced budget and examining the state tax code, with the goal of making the complex code “fairer, flatter and hopefully lower.” He also supports seeking a legislative solution to help close the skills gap between open jobs and qualified employees, passing a mining bill that supports existing business prospects, enacting education reform where the best teachers are rewarded, and conducting a top-down review of all the rules and regulations in the state.

Currently co-chair of the powerful Joint Finance Committee, Rep. Vos will be appointing his replacement.

On November 15, 2012, WisconsinEye Senior Producer Steve Walters discussed the upcoming legislative session with the newly elected Assembly Speaker Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) at the state Capitol.

Assembly Democrats

  • Minority Leader, Rep. Peter Barca
  • Asst. Minority Leader, Rep. Sandy Pasch
  • Caucus Chair, Rep. Andy Jorgenson
  • Caucus Vice Chair, Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa
  • Caucus Secretary, Rep. Janis Ringhand
  • Caucus Sgt. at Arms, Rep. Josh Zepnick

The Assembly Democrats re-elected Peter Barca minority leader after a last-minute challenge from Rep. Brett Hulsey. Barca said his priorities for the session include job creation, bridging the skills gap, tax reform that helps Wisconsin families, and education reform that strengthens public schools, technical colleges and universities all across Wisconsin.

Senate Republicans

  • Majority Leader, Sen. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Senate President, Sen. Mike Ellis
  • Senate President Pro Tempore, Sen. Joe Leibham
  • Asst. Majority Leader, Sen. Glen Grothman
  • Caucus Chair, Sen. Frank Lasee
  • Caucus Vice Chair, Sen. Sheila Harsdorf

Senate Republicans re-elected Scott Fitzgerald their majority leader. Sen. Fitzgerald identified the state budget as the biggest issue facing the legislature at the beginning of the new session. He said the Senate Republicans will work to enact policies that continue to improve Wisconsin’s business climate, including tax and regulation reform and a comprehensive mining bill.

Senate Democrats

  • Minority Leader, Sen. Chris Larson
  • Asst. Minority Leader, Sen. Dave Hansen
  • Caucus Chair, Sen. Julie Lassa
  • Caucus Vice Chair, Sen. Kathleen Vinehout
  • Caucus Sgt. at Arms, Sen. Nikiya Harris

Sen. Mark Miller chose not to seek re-election to his post as the Democratic leader. Miller’s replacement will be 32-year-old Chris Larson, who was first elected to the Senate in 2010. Larson beat out 14-year veteran Jon Erpenbach for the job of minority leader.

On November 14, 2012, WisconsinEye Senior Producer Steve Walters discussed the upcoming legislative session with newly elected Minority Leader Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee).

Gov. Scott Walker released the following statement regarding the incoming legislative leadership: “I would like to congratulate the newly elected leaders of the 101st Wisconsin Legislature. Over the course of the last week, I reached out to Democratic and Republican leaders in the Assembly and Senate in an effort to set the groundwork for the upcoming legislative session. I look forward to continuing those efforts by working with all four legislative caucuses to help create jobs in Wisconsin.”