Scott Fitzgerald     Janis Ringhand
Howard Marklein     Roger Roth
Van H. Wanggaard     Kathy Bernier
Janet Bewley       Jon B. Erpenbach
Jerry Petrowski     Jeff Smith
Chris Kapenga
Oath of Office
On Friday, December 14, 2018, Dale Kooyenga took and subscribed the oath of office in Brookfield, which was administered by the Honorable Mark Gundrum, Court of Appeals – District 2 Judge.
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 Bernier, Bewley, Carpenter, Cowles, Craig, Darling, Erpenbach, Feyen, Fitzgerald, Hansen, Jacque, Johnson, Kapenga, Larson, LeMahieu, Marklein, Miller, Nass, Olsen, Petrowski, Ringhand, Risser, Roth, Schachtner, Shilling, Smith, Stroebel, L. Taylor, Testin, Tiffany, Wanggaard and Wirch - 32.
Absent with leave - Senator Kooyenga - 1.
Leaves of Absence
Senator Fitzgerald, with unanimous consent, asked that Senator Kooyenga be granted a leave of absence for today's session.
Consideration of motions, resolutions, and joint resolutions not requiring a third reading
hist96938Considered as privileged and taken up.
hist96937Senate Resolution 1
Relating to: notifying the assembly and the governor that the 2019-2020 senate is organized.
By Senators Fitzgerald, Roth, Feyen, Shilling and Bewley.
In the Chair
Pursuant to Senate Rule 2 (1), Senator Fitzgerald in the chair.
2:44 P.M.
hist96943The question was: Adoption of Senate Resolution 1?
The ayes and noes were required and the vote was: ayes, 32; noes, 0; absent or not voting, 1; as follows:
Ayes - Senators Bernier, Bewley, Carpenter, Cowles, Craig, Darling, Erpenbach, Feyen, Fitzgerald, Hansen, Jacque, Johnson, Kapenga, Larson, LeMahieu, Marklein, Miller, Nass, Olsen, Petrowski, Ringhand, Risser, Roth, Schachtner, Shilling, Smith, Stroebel, L. Taylor, Testin, Tiffany, Wanggaard and Wirch - 32.
Noes None - 0.
Absent or not voting - Senator Kooyenga - 1.
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 Patience Drake Roggensack, Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
In the Chair
Senate President Roth in the chair.
2:48 P.M.
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. Reverend Brian Episcopo, I deeply appreciated your opening prayer and thank you for being with us today.
Thank you also to Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, for administering the oath of office today and for your service on our state’s highest court.
I’d also like to thank the Appleton North High School Orchestra and Director Craig Kellenberger. I had the privilege of hearing them give an unbelievable performance at a Veterans Day celebration this past November. Your performances today during the reception and this ceremony were outstanding – 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 us today: Chief Clerk Jeff Renk, Erin Gillitzer, Sarah Burhop, Jeffrey Beighley and John Gibson. Together with the Sergeant at Arms Ted Blazel and the Sergeant’s staff – you make our lives as Senators easier in immeasurable ways. We thank you for all you do for us.
I’d like to thank all the parents, spouses, and siblings here today who are the unsung heroes in any legislator’s life. I think I speak for every Senator here when I say to each of you that we couldn’t do our jobs without you.
That brings me to my life’s inspiration, motivation and love – the mother of our four amazing little boys – my beautiful wife Rebecca. She’s watching now on Wisconsin Eye and I thank you for all your love and support.
Senate members, I am honored to continue serving you this session as your Senate President – the sixth president of this body since the position was created in 1979.
We have been well served by our past Senate presidents beginning with Senator Fred Risser, who has served as both the longest senate president in Wisconsin history, as well as the longest serving legislator in our nation. Former Senator Brian Rude from Coon Valley served at various points in the 1990s; former Senator Alan Lasee from De Pere who served in the early 2000s, and my predecessor in this position, former Senator Mary Lazich from New Berlin, has the distinction of being the first woman to serve as president.
And then of course there is my district predecessor and mentor, former Senator Mike Ellis. Mike passed away this past summer at the age of 77. He was called a legend in Wisconsin politics, for his unmatched personality and dedication to his constituents. His fight to put his district first and politics second, earned him much respect among his peers.
Mike was a respected colleague to many of us here today, and more personally, he was a good friend.
He spent 44 years in the Legislature — 12 in the Assembly beginning in 1970 and 32 in the Senate beginning in 1982, and has left a lasting impression on this state. He was a former high school teacher at my Alma Mater, St. Mary Central in Menasha, which may have been the reason for his love of chalkboards. He ended his legislative career while serving as Senate president – a job I am honored to hold as I stand in his footsteps.
After announcing his retirement Mike said, "If you can look in the mirror at the end of the day and say to yourself and your conscience, you've done what you knew and what you thought was right, that's all you got." I shall miss him.
Finally, it is my aim to continue 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 to govern. I look forward to working with each of you toward continued success in our great state.
Thank you.
President Roth introduced the Senators returning from the 103rd Session: Senators Cowles, Taylor, Johnson, Darling, Schachtner, Tiffany, Olsen, Miller, Feyen, Stroebel, Wirch, Testin, Risser, Craig, Hansen and Shilling.
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 Senators whose oaths were renewed today, and the four members who have taken for the oath for first the time today. As elected officials, our constituents have entrusted us with the great privilege and responsibility of representing their interests here in the Wisconsin State Senate, and I look forward to working with each and every member of this body, new and returning.
And to the family members who have travelled from all across Wisconsin to this swearing-in, welcome.
I am particularly excited to get back to the work of the Legislature with our state enjoying tremendous successes. Thanks to our reforms, over the last two years Wisconsin hit record-low unemployment, saw more people working than ever before, saw our economy undergo further expansion – and all the while, this body was able to continue to further invest in our state’s priorities through items like educational funding and tax relief.
In this new session, we must build upon all of the achievements of the last eight years. While Wisconsin’s voters once again cast a vote of confidence in our responsible stewardship, in this session we must renew our commitment to moving Wisconsin Forward. Over the next two years, this body will continue to improve our business climate and 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 returned power to taxpayers with over $8 billion in tax relief. 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. We must continue to fight for hard-working taxpayers and make sure that the system is simple and streamlined while easing the overall burden on hard-working families.
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.
Now more than ever, we must continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to address the concerns of Wisconsin residents. We’ve demonstrated this ability before on issues like the Milwaukee Arena and the HOPE legislation to address the Opioid Crisis – we must continue to work on behalf of our constituents who sent us here.
Once again, I call on all of my colleagues gathered here today to enter into this legislative session with that renewed spirit of cooperation.
Too often, our Legislature is characterized by the division and debate within this hall. Today, let us be united by our shared vision of making Wisconsin a better place to work, live, and raise a family. With this, I welcome all of you – new members and those returning – to the 104th Session of the Wisconsin State Senate.”
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 our two boys Nathan and Zachary who are watching from home 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. 
Today marks the start of a new session, with new Representatives, new Senators, a new State Treasure, a new Attorney General, a new Lt. Governor and a new Governor. We have been given 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, and it is time that we come together and restore the integrity of this institution. We know what leadership looks like and now we need to practice it – with civility, respect, character, and patience.
My Senate Democratic colleagues and I are committed to working with Gov. Tony Evers and focusing on the important issues at hand. We will deliver on Gov. Evers’ plan to improve health care, strengthen schools, fix our roads and invest in pro-growth policies to build up 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. These are complex, challenging issues, and we must commit to working through the messiness.
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 at the end of the day, we are all co-workers united in our responsibility to serve our communities and do what’s best for the state of Wisconsin.
Rather than focusing on divide and conquer tactics, 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, 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.
Report of Committees