— Republican Sen. Mary Lazich will become the first
woman state Senate president in Wisconsin history, a
powerful position overseeing debate and working behind
the scenes steering legislation through the process.
increased their majority in the Senate by one seat, to
19-14, as a result of Tuesday's election. Newly elected
members met for the first time Thursday to select
leaders for the coming two-year session that begins in
said in an interview later that she wanted to fairly
enforce Senate rules, avoid conflicts before lawmakers
become "lathered up," and make sure the
process runs smoothly.
Scott Fitzgerald, the majority leader who led the GOP's
campaign efforts, retained his position unopposed.
Fitzgerald, of Juneau, said after the meeting that he
would talk with Gov. Scott Walker's chief of staff this
week about legislative priorities and he would be
meeting with Walker soon.
issues that Fitzgerald, Walker and Republican Assembly
leaders have said they intend to tackle next year
include cutting property taxes, overhauling the state
elections board, increasing enrollment in the statewide
private school voucher program and stabilizing the
state's transportation fund — projected to be $680
million in the red.
said raising the gas tax would be rejected by Senate
Republicans, so another solution to the transportation
fund would have to be found. He also floated the
possibility of returning to an elections board
consisting of partisan appointees, rather than the
current makeup of nonpartisan retired judges.
said the Senate was more conservative as a result of
Tuesday's election and the retirement of more moderate
lawmakers like Dale Schultz and Mike Ellis, the outgoing
look around the room, it's a pretty conservative caucus
we have right now," Fitzgerald said.
conservative senator who won't be back — Glenn
Grothman — made a brief appearance at the beginning of
the meeting. Grothman was elected to Congress and a
special election to fill his spot in a heavily
Republican district is likely to be held in mid-January.
going to have more fun this session than the previous 75
sessions combined," Grothman told them, a nod to
the increased Republican majority.
said Wednesday he wanted to tap into that stronger GOP
control in the Legislature to move quickly and
aggressively in passing his priorities.
moderate Republicans — including Schultz, Ellis and
Sen. Luther Olsen — worked behind the scenes to stop
or change bills backed by more conservative lawmakers.
Assembly Republicans will have a 63-36 majority if
results from Tuesday's election stand. Two Republican
victories are close and may head to a recount.
Senate president position was created after a
constitutional amendment adopted in 1979 eliminated the
lieutenant governor as presiding officer in the Senate.
Lazich, of New Berlin, beat Sen. Jerry Petrowski, of
Marathon, for the position.
Senate president typically presides over debate, but is
also one of three Republicans on the committee that
determines which bills get taken up. The Senate
president also decides which committees will handle
bills that are introduced.