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Pursuant to Article IV, Section 28 of the Wisconsin Constitution, the Honorable Justice Louis B. Butler, Jr. of the Wisconsin Supreme Court administered the oath of office to the members en masse.
The attendance roll was called by the clerk, and the members, as their names were called, came to the desk to sign the Oath of Office book.
The roll was taken.
The result follows:
Present - Representatives Ainsworth, Albers, Ballweg, Benedict, Berceau, Bies, Black, Boyle, Colon, Cullen, Davis, Fields, J. Fitzgerald, Freese, Friske, Gard, Gielow, Gottlieb, Grigsby, Gronemus, Gunderson, Gundrum, Hahn, Hines, Honadel, Hubler, Huebsch, Hundertmark, Jensen, Jeskewitz, Kaufert, Kerkman, Kessler, Kestell, Kleefisch, Krawczyk, Kreibich, Kreuser, Krusick, Lamb, F. Lasee, Lehman, LeMahieu, Loeffelholz, Lothian, McCormick, Meyer, Molepske, Montgomery, Moulton, Mursau, Musser, Nass, Nelson, Nerison, Nischke, Ott, Owens, Parisi, Petrowski, Pettis, Pocan, Pope-Roberts, Pridemore, Rhoades, Richards, Schneider, Seidel, Sheridan, Sherman, Shilling, Sinicki, Staskunas, Steinbrink, Stone, Strachota, Toles, Towns, Townsend, Travis, Turner, Underheim, Van Akkeren, Van Roy, Vos, Vrakas, Vruwink, Vukmir, Ward, Wasserman, Wieckert, A. Williams, M. Williams, Wood, Young, Zepnick and Ziegelbauer. - 97.
Absent with leave - Representatives Hebl and Suder - 2.
Vacancies - None.
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Leaves of Absence
Representative Vrakas asked unanimous consent for a leave of absence for today's session for Representative Suder. Granted.
Representative Turner asked unanimous consent for a leave of absence for today's session for Representative Hebl. Granted.
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A6 Election of Speaker
Representative Meyer nominated Representative Gard for the position of Speaker of the Assembly for the Ninety-Seventh Regular Session of the Legislature.
Representative Kreuser nominated Representative Kessler for the position of Speaker of the Assembly for the Ninety-Seventh Regular Session of the Legislature.
There being no further nominations, the chair declared nominations closed.
The roll was taken.
The result follows:
For Representative Gard - Representatives Ainsworth, Albers, Ballweg, Bies, Davis, J. Fitzgerald, Freese, Friske, Gard, Gielow, Gottlieb, Gunderson, Gundrum, Hahn, Hines, Honadel, Huebsch, Hundertmark, Jensen, Jeskewitz, Kaufert, Kerkman, Kestell, Kleefisch, Krawczyk, Kreibich, Lamb, F. Lasee, LeMahieu, Loeffelholz, Lothian, McCormick, Meyer, Montgomery, Moulton, Mursau, Musser, Nass, Nerison, Nischke, Ott, Owens, Petrowski, Pettis, Pridemore, Rhoades, Stone, Strachota, Towns, Townsend, Underheim, Van Roy, Vos, Vrakas, Vukmir, Ward, Wieckert, M. Williams and Wood - 59.
For Representative Kessler - Representatives Benedict, Berceau, Black, Boyle, Colon, Cullen, Fields, Grigsby, Gronemus, Hubler, Kessler, Kreuser, Krusick, Lehman, Molepske, Nelson, Parisi, Pocan, Pope-Roberts, Richards, Schneider, Seidel, Sheridan, Sherman, Shilling, Sinicki, Staskunas, Steinbrink, Toles, Travis, Turner, Van Akkeren, Vruwink, Wasserman, A. Williams, Young, Zepnick and Ziegelbauer - 38.
Absent or not voting - Representatives Hebl and Suder - 2.
Representative Gard was elected Speaker of the Assembly for the Ninety-Seventh Regular Session of the Legislature.
Representatives Nischke and Toles escorted Representative Gard to the rostrum.
The oath of office was administered by the Honorable Justice David Prosser, Jr. of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Speaker Gard in the chair.
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Remarks by the Speaker
"Thank you very much for the honor of being elected to lead the State Assembly. It is an honor which I shall treasure the rest of my life. Being sworn in by one of my heroes in life - Supreme Court Justice David Prosser means the world to me also. I want to thank Father Wild for blessing us today and Bobby Arnold for leading us in the national anthem. And special thanks as well to the Honorable Justice Louis Butler for administering the oath to us.
Being elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly is a true privilege and one that few people get to experience. I hope that each of you is able, in a quiet moment sometime today, to reflect upon the significance of this occasion. Signing that grand old book is like touching history. Our names are included with some amazing people who have shared this room.
As someone who has been sworn in here a couple times now - let me tell you it never gets old.
I want to take a moment to thank all the families and friends of each of the members - especially the new members - who made the trip to show support for your loved ones today. Today is a day of celebration and each of us understands the effort it took to get here. You believed in us and for that we are deeply grateful. On behalf of each member here I want to extend a heartfelt thank you for coming.
I am very fortunate to have my own family with me today. This place brought Cate Zeuske and me together and for that I will always be grateful. I want to thank my beautiful wife for the remarkable rock of support she has always been. This job can put tremendous pressure on a spouse. It helps to have someone to lean on who is so strong. I hope everyone gets a chance in his or her life to feel the happiness I do. In addition, God has blessed Cate and me with two great gifts in Libby and John Vincent. It is said, time stops for no one. The four of us have been blessed to be on this journey together and when I see how quickly they have grown I am thankful we have.
I want to thank my Mom and Dad for coming all this way to be here. Someone once said, "I am very blessed. My parents always told me I could be anything I ever wanted. When you grow up in a household like that you learn to believe in yourself." That's exactly the house I grew up in.
Finally, I want to thank my great friends from Marinette, Oconto and Brown County. The faith they have continued to put in me is very humbling. I will work hard to fulfill their expectations.
We begin this session with the tremendous hope that comes with a New Year. As I share a few thoughts of the promise of the new year and session I feel it is important to have a moment of silence for those who have experienced the horrific tragedy of the recent earthquake and tsunami that has caused so much loss of life and pain and suffering in the world. It is an indescribable loss. My hope is that the world will seize this moment as an opportunity to come together and care for each other.
Also, I want to recognize one of our members who is not with us today. Representative Scott Suder is currently on active duty with the 115th Fighter Wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard. In addition to Representative Suder, I know that a number of us have family and friends doing the hard work of freedom and placing themselves in harm's way in our nation's war on terror. We owe all of these individuals and the thousands serving by their side an immense debt of gratitude and we pray for their safe return.
Two years ago I stood here and said the journey we were about to embark on was unlike anything most of us had ever been through before but that I was confident people were up to the task.
A7 I was right. We helped lead our state through difficult economic times and worked successfully to turn the state back in the right direction. I am pleased with the progress we made and are grateful to all of you who were part of that success. By almost any measure, last session was the most productive and bi-partisan in recent memory.
This house passed 538 pieces of legislation. 85% of those bills passed with bi-partisan majorities of 80 votes or more.
In the face of a $3.2 billion deficit, we passed a bi-partisan, balanced, state budget - and got it done nearly two weeks ahead of schedule.
Governor Doyle signed 327 of our bills into law. That compares with just 109 bills signed into law in the 2001-02 session and 198 in the 1999-2000 session. That is real progress.
We cut taxes, we passed long overdue regulatory reforms, shored up our energy infrastructure, made venture capital more available, modernized our regulation of financial institutions, passed the comprehensive Agricultural Renewal Initiative, and despite a $3.2 billion deficit, increased funding for public schools $168 million.
I want to thank Governor Doyle for working with us to pass the Jobs Creation Act and sign it into law. It wasn't easy but it has made a difference. Due in part to our efforts on each of these issues Wisconsin has created more than 60,000 new jobs and now leads the Midwest in the creation of manufacturing jobs. State revenues are up, unemployment is down and our economy is growing stronger with each quarter.
Rod Nilsestuen, Governor Doyle's Secretary of Agriculture called last session, "The most productive in the last 25 years."
The Editors of the Sheboygan Press wrote, "Kudos to all the officeholders of both parties who improved the state through their cooperation, compromise and hard work on legislation in the last session."
Now we prepare to move ahead and build on our past success. There is a great deal of work ahead filled with a tremendous promise.
This Assembly has led on the great reforms of the past decade - historic welfare reform and school choice became a reality in this room among other things. And even the rebirth of Lambeau Field happened here. This Sunday that rebirth will be on full display as we get a chance to send the Minnesota Vikings packing. What a way to start the year. By the way, I'm sure you all know the reason the Vikings are purple - If you had been choking for forty-five years you'd be purple too.
Starting today we will continue to lead on the challenges before us. We must stay ever vigilant and focused on doing whatever it takes to create vibrant, private sector job growth. While we have made strides we have a long way to go.
I do not believe Wisconsin can reach it's economic potential by being one of the highest tax states in America. We simply need to be more competitive than we are when it comes to taxes. Our tax burden drives too many jobs out of state and too many families out of their homes.
For many of our workers, the sad reality - even in a rebounding economy - is that their paychecks are not keeping up with their tax bills. We must freeze property taxes and put long-term controls in place on government spending to ensure that government's ability to increase taxes doesn't outpace our families' ability to pay them.
We must work together to reform our Medicaid system and reform health care so families and employers can enjoy top quality health care that is both affordable and accessible.
Our actions can make a difference. For example, in my district, the actions of this Legislature have helped attract many good new doctors to care for those in need of medical care. However, right across the border in Michigan the hospital has closed in some cases and the doctors came to Wisconsin. It is a perfect example of our actions having dramatic impact on the decisions people make. We have made improvements to our medical liability system and now are one of the best states in America for physicians to practice.
Wisconsin can lead in all kinds of other reforms too and we have the opportunity to make that happen.
On health care, we all know there isn't one magic solution that will completely solve the growing costs of health insurance. Instead, there are a number of things that together can give our constituents the relief they need. For example, the time has come to pass into law tax-deductible health savings accounts. We simply must give families every option available to save money and make health care affordability a reality not a luxury.
We have the chance to lead the nation on a major overhaul of our Medicaid system and will do everything we can to try to make that goal a reality. Every state in America is faced with a major financial hardship due to Medicaid program. We must think differently and work aggressively to serve people smarter and more cost effectively. We have the right people in this room to make this goal a reality.
We all know that education is where we spend most of our money. In fact, almost half of our general fund budget is spent on one thing - K-12 education. There isn't even a close second. It is the right priority to have. We face long-term challenges in the way we fund our education system that we will all need to work together on over the course of the next session. However, there are some things we can do right away. One of them is lifting the caps on the school choice program in Milwaukee. These kids are looking for some hope and it is within our power to give it too them. If we don't help them who will?
We will have a host of ideas that we will pass in the first 100 days to continue to make our state more competitive and successful. Economic growth and major reforms are going to be the hallmark of this legislative session. I am confident that each of us understands the gift that has been offered to us. The chance to make a real difference in the lives of people we have known our entire life and in the lives of people we will never meet.
Thomas Jefferson said, "I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past."
A8 If we work hard we can be part of something historic over the next two years.
The people of this state have given us a real opportunity to lead Wisconsin at a time when we need action. I am honored to have the chance to work with such a distinguished group of leaders to move Wisconsin forward.
When we achieve the successes we are working for Wisconsin will be a better place to create new jobs and new hope. We will become the best place in America to live, work and retire.
Thank you very much."
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Election of Speaker Pro Tempore
Representative Brett Davis nominated Representative Freese for the position of Speaker Pro Tempore of the Assembly for the Ninety-Seventh Regular Session of the Legislature.
There being no further nominations, the speaker declared nominations closed.
Representative Huebsch asked unanimous consent that a unanimous ballot be cast with all members of the Assembly recorded as voting for Representative Freese for Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore. Granted.
For Representative Freese - Representatives Ainsworth, Albers, Ballweg, Benedict, Berceau, Bies, Black, Boyle, Colon, Cullen, Davis, Fields, J. Fitzgerald, Freese, Friske, Gielow, Gottlieb, Grigsby, Gronemus, Gunderson, Gundrum, Hahn, Hines, Honadel, Hubler, Huebsch, Hundertmark, Jensen, Jeskewitz, Kaufert, Kerkman, Kessler, Kestell, Kleefisch, Krawczyk, Kreibich, Kreuser, Krusick, Lamb, F. Lasee, Lehman, LeMahieu, Loeffelholz, Lothian, McCormick, Meyer, Molepske, Montgomery, Moulton, Mursau, Musser, Nass, Nelson, Nerison, Nischke, Ott, Owens, Parisi, Petrowski, Pettis, Pocan, Pope-Roberts, Pridemore, Rhoades, Richards, Schneider, Seidel, Sheridan, Sherman, Shilling, Sinicki, Staskunas, Steinbrink, Stone, Strachota, Toles, Towns, Townsend, Travis, Turner, Underheim, Van Akkeren, Van Roy, Vos, Vrakas, Vruwink, Vukmir, Ward, Wasserman, Wieckert, A. Williams, M. Williams, Wood, Young, Zepnick, Ziegelbauer and Speaker Gard. - 97.
Absent or not voting - Representatives Hebl and Suder - 2.
Representative Freese was elected Speaker Pro Tempore of the Assembly for the Ninety-Seventh Regular Session of the Legislature.
Representatives Albers and Gronemus escorted Representative Freese to the rostrum.
The oath of office was administered by Speaker Gard.
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Remarks by the
Speaker Pro Tempore
"Mr. Speaker, members of the Assembly, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. It is both an honor and a privilege to once again be elected as Speaker Pro Tempore of the Wisconsin State Assembly.
Many veteran members of this house know that I am passionate about two things - vintage automobiles and history. Don't worry, I will not talk about the history of Chrysler this afternoon, but here is a bit of history that you may find interesting.
In 1836, the first Assembly met in Belmont. There were 26 members elected to a two-year term - just a few more than the 19 new members being sworn in today. They were paid three dollars a day and reimbursed three dollars for every twenty miles that they traveled.
Wisconsin saw a good share of its legislative leaders in the mid-to-late 19th century and early 20th century coming from my part of the state. We had Assembly Speaker's Whiteside, Strong, Hull, Cobb, Barber, Field and Bancraft. Senate leaders include Wilkinson, Hazelton, Eaton, Halloway, Ryland, Martin and Roethe. I'm proud that Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz and I can carry on that tradition of leadership from our corner of Wisconsin.
Being elected as Speaker Pro Tempore has special meaning for me today. Today, elected to my sixth term, I have become the longest serving Speaker Pro Tempore in Wisconsin history. David Clarenbach of Madison and I shared the record up until a few moments ago. While it's nice to have this recognition, it is much more important to me knowing that I have earned the trust of my colleagues to hold this position for so long.
The position of Speaker Pro Tempore was created in 1959. Twelve others held it before I was first elected to the post in January of 1995. Since that time, we have seen drastic changes in the day-to-day operation of this chamber - with none being more significant than going paperless to full electronic automation. Each of us, young and old, made the move to capitalize on new technologies and save hundreds of thousands of dollars by doing away with paper copies. We've had a few glitches along the way, but for the most part it has been a great success.
Then we entered the internet age. For the first time the proceedings of the Assembly Chamber were broadcast live around the world on the internet. Individuals from all over the world, whether located in Dodgeville, Wisconsin or Taipei, Taiwan, could watch the activity on the Assembly floor in real time. And now we will soon be entering a new age for the Legislature.
A9 Final approval pending, the Legislature's activities for the first time will be broadcast statewide via cable television. The State's non-profit, programming partner, WisconsinEye, will broadcast coverage of Assembly and Senate committee meetings and floor sessions, along with activities that are going on in communities all across the state. It is my hope that this new age of televised coverage will renew our sense of civility and respect toward others in this chamber. Our constituents will be watching. Now is the time to show the state that we are capable of carrying out our business as professionals.
As the Speaker Pro Tempore, often my role is to serve as the presiding officer of this house when we are in session. As in years past, I will do everything I can to maintain decorum, civility and fairness on the floor. This place simply cannot function as a governing body without all three in place. This is my hope for the New Year.
In closing, I want to thank Speaker Gard and members of this body for entrusting me with the responsibilities in serving as Speaker Pro Tempore. I want to thank my constituents for electing me to serve as their state representative. And most importantly, I want to thank my family - in particular my wife Dawn and my two children, Marie and Drew - and many friends for their love and support throughout my tenure in this body. Thank you!"
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Election of Chief Clerk
Representative Vrakas nominated Patrick E. Fuller for the position of Chief Clerk of the Assembly for the Ninety-Seventh Regular Session of the Legislature.
Representative Berceau seconded the nomination of Patrick E. Fuller for the position of Chief Clerk of the Assembly for the Ninety-Seventh Regular Session of the Legislature.
There being no further nominations, the Speaker declared nominations closed.
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