MADISON (WKOW) -- Tuesday's elections retained a Republican majority in the state assembly, toppled the Democratic majority in the state senate, and combined with a Republican governor, gave the GOP statehouse control.
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) says the reshaped legislative balance of power gives the governing bodies a fresh start.
In the senate, election results give Republicans a 16-15 advantage over Democrats, with that margin expected to increase to 18-15, when a vacant seat is filled by an unopposed Republican, and a close race with the edge to a Republican challenger is settled.
The last time epublicans controlled both legislative houses, controversial limits to public employee collective bargaining were pushed through, despite massive protests and the flight of all senate Democrats to Illinois to delay the legislation's passage.
Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) says the end of this week's legislative campaign caps some "nasty" races, and says repairing relationships is sometimes easier said than done, but nonetheless necessary.
Both Erpenbach and Fitzgerald say strengthening the state's economy is a shared goal.
Before senate power shifted to democrats earlier this year, Republicans held only a 17-16 majority. A proposed mining operation in northern Wisconsin and accompanying revisions to environmental rules on mining were sunk, largely because maverick Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) sided with Democrats in opposition to the measures.
Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Okauchee) says with Schultz's potential, crossover vote no longer able to give opposing Democrats enough support to vote down a mining bill, republicans are prepared to resurrect mining proposals. Fitzgerald says current state regulations should be widely recognized as "onerous," but Erpenbach says a bi-partisan approach should emerge to ensure environmental protection from any irreversible mining practice.
There is also already a shake-up in the composition of leadership in the legislature. Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona) announced Wednesday he would not pursue his caucus' leadership post as the Democrats transition into the senate's minority.
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