Wisconsin Republicans rush agenda before recalls
MADISON - Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP leaders have launched a push to ram several years' worth of conservative agenda items through the Legislature this spring before recall elections threaten to end the party's control of state government.
Republicans, in a rapid sequence of votes over the next eight weeks, plan to legalize concealed weapons, deregulate the telephone industry, require voters to show photo identification at the polls, expand school vouchers and undo an early release for prisoners.
Lawmakers may also act again on Walker's controversial plan stripping public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights. An earlier version, which led to massive protest demonstrations at the Capitol, has been left in limbo by legal challenges.
"Everything's been accelerated," said Republican Rep. Gary Tauchen, who is working on the photo ID bill. "We've got a lot of big bills we're trying to get done."
"They know there's a very strong possibility their days of controlling every level of government are numbered," Democratic Assembly Leader Peter Barca said. "You're moving forward huge pieces of legislation that dramatically change the direction and traditions and values of this state. Generally, doing that takes much longer."
Recall campaigns likely will force six Republican senators to defend their seats this summer. Three Democrats may also be on recall ballots. A net victory of three seats would give the Democrats control of the Senate, which the GOP now controls 19-14. The first elections are scheduled for July 12.
Looks like the Republicans are more that a bit worried about losing control of the Senate in Wisconsin.