GOP lawmakers vow to fast-track mining, but kill right-to-work - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

GOP lawmakers vow to fast-track mining, but kill right-to-work legislation


MADISON (WKOW) -- State Republicans say a new mining bill will be passed by March and that they won't seek to pass right-to-work legislation.

Those were the two big developments to come out of inauguration day at the Capitol.

Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) took the oath of office as Speaker of the Assembly with a very aggressive outlook on mining legislation.

"I am very optimistic it will be introduced hopefully by the end of next week or sooner and that we can have hearings by the end of the month and move the process along as expeditiously as possible," said Rep. Vos.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) expects full passage of the bill within months.

"My target date is more related to March," said Sen. Fitzgerald.

That's despite the fact that Republicans will start with a bill that's 99 percent similar to the one that failed the Senate in March 2012, and that they claim to want a final version that can get Democratic support as well.

"You would expect that they would be looking to work from a little different perspective," said Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), the Assembly Minority Leader.

Speaker Vos says one thing that won't be a priority is right-to-work legislation, which would allow private sector workers to opt out of unions they are currently required to join.

"We have moved Wisconsin in such a better direction than it was two years ago, we certainly want to keep going in that direction, but we don't need to have every single issue bring hundreds of thousands of protesters to Madison.

That said, Vos did not rule out any other controversial legislation, saying a bill to end same-day voter registration may still be on the table.

"Its definitely possible," said Rep. Vos.  "I think any idea out there are things I want to take a look at, but we've got to make sure that they're in the best interest of the taxpayer." 

"I think you're seeing internal battles of what's happening within the Republican Party and what the priorities are gonna be," said Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), who says he's hopeful those more controversial issues will remain off the table.

An income tax cut for middle-class workers is also a top priority for Republicans, despite the fact that Democrats say they should first restore cuts to the earned-income tax credit for low income workers and to the homestead credit, both of which passed last session.

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