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Oath of Office
Upon the calling of the newly elected Senators on Tuesday, January 3, 2017, the following appeared before the Senate, took and subscribed the oath of office which was administered by the Honorable Daniel Kelly, Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Robert Cowles     Lena C. Taylor
LaTonya Johnson     Alberta Darling
Sheila E. Harsdorf     Tom Tiffany
Luther S. Olsen     Mark Miller
Dan Feyen       Duey Stroebel
Robert W. Wirch     Patrick Testin
Fred A. Risser     Dave Craig
Dave Hansen       Jennifer Shilling
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Call of Roll
The roll was called, disclosing the presence of a quorum.
Pursuant to Senate Rule 15, the official attendance for session was:
Senators Bewley, Carpenter, Cowles, Craig, Darling, Erpenbach, Feyen, S. Fitzgerald, Hansen, Harsdorf, Johnson, Kapenga, C. Larson, Lasee, LeMahieu, Marklein, Miller, Moulton, Nass, Olsen, Petrowski, Ringhand, Risser, Roth, Shilling, Stroebel, L. Taylor, Testin, Tiffany, Vinehout, Vukmir, Wanggaard and Wirch - 33.
Absent with leave - None.
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In the Chair
Pursuant to Senate Rule 2 (1), Senator Fitzgerald in the chair.
2:54 P.M.
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Consideration of motions, resolutions, and joint resolutions not requiring a third reading
hist62970Considered as privileged and taken up.
hist62969Senate Resolution 1
Relating to: notifying the assembly and the governor that the 2017-2018 senate is organized.
By Senators S. Fitzgerald, Roth, Vukmir, Shilling and Bewley.
hist62972The question was: Adoption of Senate Resolution 1?
The ayes and noes were required and the vote was: ayes, 33; noes, 0; absent or not voting, 0; as follows:
Ayes - Senators Bewley, Carpenter, Cowles, Craig, Darling, Erpenbach, Feyen, S. Fitzgerald, Hansen, Harsdorf, Johnson, Kapenga, C. Larson, Lasee, LeMahieu, Marklein, Miller, Moulton, Nass, Olsen, Petrowski, Ringhand, Risser, Roth, Shilling, Stroebel, L. Taylor, Testin, Tiffany, Vinehout, Vukmir, Wanggaard and Wirch - 33.
Noes - None.
Absent or not voting - None.
Adopted.
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Senate Officers Oath of Office
The President, Roger Roth, the President Pro Tempore, Howard Marklein, the Chief Clerk, Jeffery Renk, and the Sergeant at Arms, Edward A. Blazel, having been duly elected by the adoption of Senate Resolution 1, appeared together before the bar of the Senate, took and subscribed the oath of office which was administered by the Honorable Daniel Kelly, Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
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In the Chair
Senate President Roth in the chair.
3:01 P.M.
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Remarks of President Roth
“I’d like to begin by thanking a few people whose presence here today has greatly added to the spirit of this celebration. Pastor Alvin Dupree, I deeply appreciated your opening prayer today. Pastor Dupree came to my community not that many years ago – after a 20 plus career in the Marine Corps, he and his wife Chantelle established Family First Ministries in Appleton. Pastor thank you for being with us today.
I would like to thank Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly. Your presence here today made everything official, so thank you for being here. We appreciated your words.
I’d also like to thank Craig Kellenberger, who is the Director of Orchestras at the Renaissance School of Arts, which is a half-day charter school and part of the Appleton Area School District. You and your students did an amazing job here today – thank you for sharing your talents with us.
Next, I’d like to recognize the members of the Chief Clerk’s office, particularly those seated before me today: Chief Clerk Jeff Renk, Erin Gillitzer, Sarah Burhop, Jeffrey Beighley and John Gibson. Together with the Sergeant at Arms Ted Blazel, the Sergeant’s staff and page staff – you make our lives as Senators easier in immeasurable ways. We thank you in advance for all you do for us.
And now I’d like to thank the individuals closest to me. First, I’d like to recognize my life’s inspiration, motivation and love – the mother of our three amazing little boys – my beautiful wife Rebecca. Thank you for your love and support.
Sir Isaac Newton was rumored to have once said that, “if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Seated next to my wife are the two individuals whose shoulders my three brothers and I stand on. They taught us to be gentlemen – to love God and treat people with dignity and respect. They have names in their own right, but to me they’re Mom and Dad. Thanks for all you do for me.
And now to the members of this body. I am honored by your selection of me to serve as Senate President for this body during the upcoming session. It is a responsibility I do not take lightly. I’m deeply committed to ensuring this session of the legislature is wildly successful – and I assure you it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m up for re-election in two years.
Inaugurations like these truly are remarkable celebrations. They are the crowning achievement in our system of self-government, as fought for and advanced by faithful men and women through the ages. The people of our great state have spoken on Election Day, and we here today respect their wishes with a peaceful transfer of power to the 33 men and women seated here – chosen by the people – who will exercise their powers in the upcoming session as granted to them through our constitution.
We have been well served by our past Senate presidents through the years, from Senator Fred Risser, whose accomplishments have been well noted already today, to that of Senator Mary Lazich who herself became the first woman to serve in that leadership role, whom I might add did an amazing job.
In talking with my immediate predecessor in the State Senate, former Senator Mike Ellis, he impressed upon me the fact that though political parties have their place – nothing can be allowed to trump the integrity and institution of the Wisconsin State Senate. To that end, it is my aim to enforce the rules of this body in equal measure on all members to ensure the minority has an opportunity to be heard while at the same time not infringing on the right of the majority in achieving their goals.
I appreciate in advance your patience with me presiding, as I become more settled in this new role, and I look forward to listening to your many thought-filled debates.
Thank you.”
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President Roth introduced the Senators returning from the 102nd Session: Senators Lasee, Carpenter, Vukmir, Larson, LeMahieu, Nass, Fitzgerald, Ringhand, Marklein, Roth, Wanggaard, Moulton, Bewley, Erpenbach, Petrowski, and Vinehout.
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With unanimous consent, Senator Fitzgerald addressed the members from the rostrum.
Remarks of Majority Leader Fitzgerald
As we begin the important duty of conducting the work of the people of Wisconsin, I would like to welcome and congratulate the 16 Senators whose oaths were renewed or taken for the first time today. Your constituents have entrusted you with the great privilege and responsibility of representing their interests here in Wisconsin’s statehouse, and I look forward to working with each and every member of this body, new and returning.
I am particularly excited to get back to the work of the legislature after an incredible year both for the Senate and for Wisconsin. Thanks to our work, in 2016 Wisconsin reached record high employment levels, saw our best twelve month private sector job growth in a decade, and is currently enjoying our state’s lowest unemployment rate in 15 years.
In this new session, we must build upon all of the achievements of the last. While Wisconsin’s voters once again cast a vote of confidence in our responsible stewardship, this session we must renew our commitment to moving Wisconsin in the right direction. Over the next two years, this body will be dedicated to improving our business climate and continuing to ensure accountability and efficiency at every level of government. Just as every Wisconsin family must budget for their needs each year, our government must continue to operate within its means, eliminating waste and checking abuse to ensure that our taxpayers’ dollars are well spent.
As we embark on the process of crafting the next biennial budget, we will ensure that the best interests of Wisconsin’s residents remain a priority. Under Republican control, Wisconsin has already seen over four and a half billion dollars returned to the pockets of taxpayers. We still believe that individuals should ultimately decide how to spend their hard-earned paychecks—not the government. Despite our already significant efforts to lower the tax burden, Wisconsin remains a high-tax state due to the exceptional quantity and quality of services that the state provides. More reform of our tax code is still needed so that it is simple, streamlined, and eases the overall burden on hard-working Wisconsin residents while maintaining this excellent quality.
Last session I began the year by reminding this body not only of all that we have been able to accomplish, but how much we have achieved with a spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation. This remains true today: in the last two legislative sessions, well over 90 percent of the bills that passed through these chambers and were signed into law in Wisconsin garnered support from both sides of the aisle.
Once again, I call on all of my colleagues gathered here today to enter into this legislative session with that renewed spirit.
As members of the legislature, we are too often characterized by our divisions, but all of us here today are united by our shared desire to make our state a better place. With that in mind, I welcome all of you–new and returning—to the 103rd Session of the Wisconsin State Senate.
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With unanimous consent, Senator Shilling addressed the members from the rostrum.
Remarks of Minority Leader Shilling
Mr. President, friends and colleagues. I am honored to join you here today as we begin a new legislative session and address the challenges facing our state.
I would like to welcome our new and returning members as well as their families. I especially want to recognize my husband Chris and two boys, Nathan and Zachary, who are here with me today. Thank you for your unconditional love, support and encouragement.
I also want to welcome everyone watching from home on WisconsinEye as well as our guests here in the Senate chamber.
While today marks the start of a new session, it also provides our legislature with a clean slate and the opportunity to chart a new course for our state.
We all know that Wisconsin is a unique, vibrant and hardworking state full of amazing people and unparalleled potential, but we need a clearer plan to invest in our future and ensure long-term economic success.
While the rest of the nation has seen strong job gains, our state has consistently ranked below the national average for job creation, we’ve struggled with declining wages and our aging infrastructure is preventing many businesses from expanding. Wisconsin communities, businesses and residents are already bracing for another round of difficult budget cuts and sacrifices because of fiscal policies that favor the rich over working families.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. Just across the border in Minnesota, their progressive policies are attracting businesses, growing their middle class, and resulting in major budget surpluses. Just last month, their budget office forecasted a $1.4 billion surplus and they have a $1.9 billion reserve fund. Rather than looking to cut and borrow, they are investing and growing.
As we seek to balance Wisconsin’s budget deficit and build a brighter future, my Senate Democratic colleagues and I are committed to focusing on the important issues at hand. We will put forward thoughtful proposals to improve workplace flexibility, increase economic freedom and invest in pro-growth policies to strengthen the middle class. We recognize that these aren’t Democratic or Republican issues. They’re Wisconsin issues and we must find ways to work together on these key priorities.
In this new session, it is important to recognize the shortcomings of past policies and look for new ways to deliver on legislative promises. Without adequately investing in our future, Wisconsin will continue to lag our neighboring states in job growth and prosperity. We know that a quality education is the foundation for lifelong success, yet state cuts, local funding challenges and the massive increase of student loan debt have become significant burdens for families. By making targeted investments in our schools, we can improve education outcomes at all levels from pre-K programs to our technical colleges and universities.
Senate Democrats will also look for ways to help businesses improve workplace productivity, reduce employee turnover and provide greater workplace flexibility. We want to focus on increasing access to affordable childcare, reducing health care costs and improving retirement security to eliminate the barriers that prevent employers and employees from succeeding in a competitive global marketplace.
We also recognize that our government has a responsibility to strengthen communities and private enterprise by maintaining a strong public infrastructure. From repairing aging roads and bridges to encouraging broadband access in urban and rural areas, we need to ensure that our infrastructure is an asset, not a liability, to businesses growth and expansion.
Each of the members in this chamber represents a unique district and geographic area of our state, but we are united in our desire to do what’s best for everyone. Rather than focusing on policies that will divide communities, I hope that we will seize this opportunity to set a new tone and find commonsense solutions to the challenges we face.
As the Senate Democratic Leader, I look forward to working with Gov. Walker, my legislative colleagues, community leaders and local advocates to strengthen relationships and move Wisconsin forward. By working together, I know that we can provide greater economic opportunity, prosperity and freedom for all to enjoy. Thank you.
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Report of Committees
The joint committee on Legislative Organization reports and recommends:
Senate Joint Resolution 1
Relating to: the session schedule for the 2017−2018 biennial session period.
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