Wisconsin Legislature

Courtesy of Samba Baldeh

Newly elected Rep. Samba Baldeh is the first Muslim member of the Wisconsin Legislature. Before becoming a representative, Baldeh, an immigrant from Gambia, served on the Madison Common Council. He now represents Wisconsin’s 48th Assembly District.

As for what Baldeh hopes to accomplish, he says he wants to expand health care programs, like Medicaid, so that struggling communities have proper access to medical care.

Criminal justice reform is also on the top of Baldeh's mind, he says, not only in terms of police reform but also in keeping people out of prison.

DADEROT / WIKIMEDIA

Updated at 1:03 p.m.

A Republican-backed push to fast-track redistricting lawsuits in the Wisconsin Supreme Court met with skepticism during a Thursday hearing, with the court's conservative chief justice questioning why the proposal was necessary and how the thinly staffed court could be expected to draw maps.

Courtesy of Francesca Hong

Wisconsin voters made history in November by electing the first Asian American to the state Legislature. Francesca Hong is a chef and restaurant owner, and now a state representative. She was elected to represent the state’s 76th Assembly District, which covers a portion of Madison.

Rep. Hong, a Democrat, talks with WUWM's LaToya Dennis about the work that lies ahead. She begins by explaining her feelings about being elected: “I am both incredibly motivated, grateful and terrified at the same time."

UBJSP / STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Updated at 4:13 p.m.

The Wisconsin Senate overwhelmingly passed a scaled-down COVID-19 relief package Tuesday, drawing a pledge from Gov. Tony Evers that he would sign the measure if clears the Assembly. But that looked unlikely after a key Republican leader in that chamber declared the package falls far short of what the GOP wants.

Screenshot / Wiseye.org

Update 3:26 p.m.

After little floor discussion, the full Wisconsin Senate has approved the bill and Governor Evers has announced he will sign the bill.

READ: Wisconsin Senate Approves COVID-19 Relief Package, Gov. Evers Says He Will Sign It

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

Updated 4:09 p.m.

Police and firefighters in Wisconsin will be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine starting Jan. 18, state health officials said Monday, while Gov. Tony Evers estimates that members of the general public won't be vaccinated until June.

Evers renewed his call for faster distribution of the vaccine from the federal government on Monday and state Republicans introduced a new scaled back response bill and scheduled it for a vote Tuesday.

ANDY MANIS / GETTY IMAGES

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Assembly on Thursday passed a doomed COVID-19 response bill that Senate Republicans and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers oppose, and there’s no sign of an agreement on a plan to combat the virus that has killed more than 5,000 people in the state.

Evers and Assembly Democrats have their own proposals that Republicans do not support. The Legislature hasn't passed anything related to the pandemic since April, and recent talks between Evers and Republican leaders failed to result in a deal.

SCREENSHOT / WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES

In 2020, Wisconsin was thrust into the political spotlight. Serving as a key swing state for the presidential election, playing virtual host to the Democratic National Convention and taking on the national conversation around police reform all put eyes on Wisconsin.

But UW-Milwaukee political science professor Paru Shah says much of Wisconsin politics was characterized by inaction.

Wiseye

Wisconsin Republicans moved ahead Tuesday with a fast-tracked coronavirus response bill that is opposed by Democrats and appears likely to be vetoed by Gov. Tony Evers.

Andy Manis/Getty Images

Wisconsin Assembly Republicans are backing a $100 million coronavirus relief package, about a fifth of what Democratic Gov. Tony Evers wants to spend on fighting the virus.

The Legislature has not met since April, even as virus numbers have spiked in Wisconsin. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Assembly Republicans announced their COVID-19 package Tuesday.

Among other measures, the package would double the number of local public health staff who address COVID-19, prohibit COVID-19 test co-payments and establish legislative oversight of the vaccine distribution plan.

UBJSP / STOCK.ADOBE.COM

A powerful Republican lawmaker in the Wisconsin Legislature known for his efforts to combat the opioid abuse crisis announced Tuesday that he was resigning to pursue unspecified opportunities in the private sector, causing a surprising shakeup to the leadership of the panel that writes the state budget.

SCREENSHOT / WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES / YOUTUBE

Gov. Tony Evers and Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos described their Friday meeting to discuss coronavirus relief measures as productive.

Daderot / Wikimedia

Late last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court announced its decisions on key cases concerning the power of the state’s executive branch. The rulings effectively limit the power of Wisconsin’s attorney general and overruled several of Gov. Tony Evers' vetoes from the 2019 state budget.

Emily Files / WUWM

There are still a lot of unknowns about how Wisconsin’s K-12 schools will reopen in the fall.

Public and private school leaders testified to the Assembly Education Committee for seven hours Wednesday about the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

>>MPS Considers How To Safely Bring Students Back

Screenshot / WisconsinEye

Wisconsin governors have the most sweeping veto powers in the nation when it comes to spending measures, allowing them to use the veto pen to tweak language approved by lawmakers. But a conservative organization is looking to scale those powers back.

Courtesy of WisEye

Updated at 1:10 p.m. CT  

The Wisconsin Senate passed a legislative response to the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday. The state Assembly easily passed the package Tuesday, which includes more than 50 provisions related to health care and the economy. But as is typical in the Wisconsin Legislature, there are some controversial items. 

Emily Hamer/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' plan to create a nonpartisan redistricting commission to draw Wisconsin's electoral maps may put pressure on the Republicans who control the Legislature to consider an alternative plan, but it won't force them to do anything differently next year and GOP leaders made clear they won't change course.

Maayan Silver

Skirmishes between Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the GOP-controlled Legislature continue. The latest move? A rejection of Evers' agriculture secretary by the state Legislature, something that hasn’t been done in decades.

Fitzgerald Says Senate Will Quickly End Gun Special Session

Oct 21, 2019
STARKYTANG / stock.adobe.com

Updated on Oct. 22 at 12:40 p.m. CT

The Republican leader of the Wisconsin state Senate said Tuesday he plans to convene and then immediately adjourn a special session Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called on a pair of gun control measures, without debating or voting on the proposals.

Emily Files / WUWM

In most Wisconsin school districts, 4-year-olds can attend kindergarten. But the programs are usually for just part of the day. State legislators are now considering two bills that could expand full-day kindergarten options for children under 5.

Emily Files

Legislation aimed at helping dyslexic students in Wisconsin cleared a major hurdle last month when it was approved by the State Assembly. The bill is now in the Senate’s hands. From there, it would go to Gov. Tony Evers, and potentially become Wisconsin’s first dyslexia-specific law. 

But the debate over how to support struggling readers is far from over.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Wisconsin lawmakers have approved a plan to fund road repairs. The Republican-controlled Joint Finance committee Thursday night scrapped Gov. Tony Evers proposal for an 8-cent per gallon gas tax – and instead passed a measure to raise title and vehicle registration fees. The vote was 11-5, along party lines.

Screenshot/Wisconsin Eye

Families of children with dyslexia want Wisconsin lawmakers to do more to help struggling readers. Dyslexia is a common reading disorder that makes it difficult to connect written text to spoken language. Children with dyslexia are at risk for reading failure if they don’t get early interventions.

Emily R Files / WUWM

Dyslexia is a common learning disorder that inhibits a person’s ability to connect written text to spoken language. It’s likely one major reason why 65 percent of Wisconsin fourth graders don’t meet proficiency standards on national reading assessments.

Screenshot/Wisconsin Eye

There could be major funding changes on the way for Wisconsin public schools. A lawmaker-led committee on education spending met for the final time Wednesday. It put forward a list of recommendations for legislative action.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding traveled around Wisconsin in 2018. It took testimony from administrators, teachers, parents and students. The consensus: an overhaul of Wisconsin’s education funding system is overdue.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Update: Monday, Gov. Scott Walker officially signed his School Safety Plan into law, which includes $100 million to upgrade security in schools.

The Senate made minor adjustments to Walker’s original proposal.

Original Post, March 15, 2018:

Gov. Scott Walker has plans he says will make Wisconsin schools safer. He called the legislature into special session to take up safety proposals that would increase security in schools.

Althouse

It was a busy day at the State Capitol, as Republican lawmakers scrambled to pass some of Governor Walker’s key election-year initiatives.

Tuesday began with Senate and Assembly leaders at odds over Walker’s school safety plan – along with a proposal to close the Lincoln Hills juvenile prison and a bill that would give families a $100 per-child tax credit.

But in the end, lawmakers were able to iron out their differences.

Justin W Kern

Emotions ran high during a marathon session of the state Assembly on Thursday. In the end, lawmakers passed bills on some major hot-button issues.

One bill would give Foxconn-style tax breaks to prevent Kimberly-Clark from closing its two plants in the Fox Valley.

Another would give Wisconsin families 100 dollars for every child this fall. A third item would give everybody a sales tax holiday the first weekend in August. The discussion went until 1:00 Friday morning.

Justin W Kern

State lawmakers are floating an idea for how to crack down on human trafficking and prostitution. They're considering a bill that would enlist the help of truck drivers, whose routes take them throughout the state. An assembly committee is scheduled to vote on the item Wednesday. Some victims' advocates approve of the measure, but say the state should also employ other innovative strategies.

Wisconsin's State Capitol
Ann Althouse, Flickr

It’s no secret that there’s division among some of the state's Republican lawmakers. After six years of agreeing on major pieces of legislation, they struggled this past summer to pass a state budget. Some exchanged unkind words during the process. 

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