- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Assembly leaves high-profile bills off last agenda

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Wisconsin Assembly has left two high-profile bills off its last floor agenda of the two-year session.

The Assembly’s last day is set for Thursday. Republicans on the Assembly’s rule committee finalized the last agenda on Tuesday, packing the calendar with nearly 70 bills items. Missing from the list are bills that would exempt sand mines from new ordinances and rewrite public schools’ Common Core academic standards.

The Senate’s last day is April 1. That means that chamber would have one day to approve any bills that emerge from the Assembly on Thursday and send them on to the governor.

It’s unclear what might become of legislation that doesn’t get out of the Assembly on Thursday. Speaker Robin Vos says he doesn’t intend to reconvene but hasn’t ruled it out.


Assembly to consider voting, chemo, school bills

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Wisconsin Assembly’s last session day looks jammed.

The chamber’s last floor period of the two-year legislative session is set for Thursday. Republicans on the Assembly’s rules committee on Tuesday adopted an agenda crammed with nearly 70 bills and resolutions.

Chief among them are proposals that would limit in-person absentee voting; give cancer patients access to less expensive chemotherapy pills; create private school accountability requirements; give lobbyists an extra seven weeks to give lawmakers donations; and change the rules for asbestos-related lawsuits.

The Senate is expected to wrap up its work on April 1. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Burlington Republican, says he’s holding open the possibility of the Assembly coming back to deal with any bills the Senate might amend and send back to the Assembly for final passage.


Ryan talks about defense, immigration in Wisconsin

NORTH PRAIRIE, Wis. (AP) - Congressman Paul Ryan said Tuesday that he doesn’t think proposed cuts to the military are wise given the war in Syria and conflict in Ukraine.

Ryan, who is mentioned frequently as a potential presidential candidate, said defense should be the federal government’s top priority and any further cuts in military spending would put the U.S. at a disadvantage in foreign affairs.

“I really think that what that does is it sends the wrong signals to the world,” Ryan said during a packed town hall-style meeting in North Prairie, a community of about 2,100 southwest of Milwaukee. “It sends signals to the Chinese that our military is shrinking and therefore they have an incentive to catch up to us.”

It was the first in a four-day series of such meetings for Ryan, and at an event later Tuesday in Franklin, people began lining up an hour early to get inside. Security was tight with more than a half-dozen police officers at both events, a ban on backpacks and residents turned away when the rooms reached capacity.

The Janesville Republican said U.S. defense policy cannot be blamed for Russia’s recent move into Crimea. But he said it did not help matters for the U.S. to look weak.

“Russia is responsible for taking over Crimea, that’s where the blame should be,” Ryan said. “But I think it’s a reminder that it’s a much more dangerous world. These are not peaceful times … we should not give signals that we are going to withdraw and retreat.”

Ryan, 44, also advocated more oil and gas drilling on federal land, saying greater production at home would help the U.S. economy and increase national security by reducing reliance on oil from the Middle East. Domestic oil production has increased dramatically in recent years and as of October, the U.S. was producing more oil than it imported. Ryan said increasing natural gas production would allow the U.S. to export the fuel to European nations that now rely on Russia.


Fitzgerald: Senate unlikely to take up school bill

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says it’s up to the Assembly whether a school accountability bill passes this session.

The Senate has passed a bill that would require performance data from private schools that accept taxpayer funded voucher students to be reported alongside the same information from public schools. But the Assembly plans to vote Thursday on a more far-reaching proposal that calls for sanctions for poor-performing schools.

Fitzgerald said Tuesday the Senate doesn’t have “a lot of momentum” for re-visiting the issue. If the Assembly passes a bill the Senate won’t take up, no accountability bill will pass this year.

Fitzgerald says if that happens, “that would be a swing and a miss on that topic.”

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