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Democrats worried about what GOP isn't saying

MADISON, Wis. - Assembly Democrats aren't quite buying Republican Speaker Robin Vos' call for the parties to work together.

Vos outlined the GOP agenda during the chamber's inauguration ceremony. He said members need to find a long-term solution for road funding, rework school funding, reform taxes and address a growing worker shortage.

Minority Leader Peter Barca told reporters during a news conference following the ceremony that Vos' agenda could generate bipartisan support since it calls for more jobs and better infrastructure.

But he says he's more worried about what Vos didn't say, pointing out during the last few sessions Republicans have passed contentious legislation that seemingly came out of nowhere, such as Gov. Scott Walker's signature public union restrictions and a right-to-work bill.

Vos urges Assembly to set aside ideologies

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is asking members to set aside "rigid ideologies" this session and find common ground.

Vos addressed the chamber Tuesday shortly after Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack swore him into his position for the upcoming two-year session.

Vos offered a broad outline of his agenda, telling members they need to find a long-term solution for road funding, rework public school funding, reform the tax code and address a growing shortage of workers. He also said he's looking forward to Republicans in Washington handing the states more power.

He challenged both Democrats and Republicans to put aside what's best for their political careers as well as "rigid ideologies some want us to maintain" and reach across the aisle for ideas.

Fitzgerald, Shilling address Senate

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says the Legislature is "too often" characterized by divisions.

Fitzgerald made the comment Tuesday as the new legislative session began with Republicans holding their largest majorities in decades. In the Senate, Republicans hold a 20-13 majority, their largest since 1971.

Fitzgerald promises to continue working to cut taxes, improve the state's business climate and pass a state budget that he says will put the best interest of Wisconsin residents as a priority.

Democratic Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling says in her comments at the start of the session that Wisconsin should look at its neighbor Minnesota and its job growth and state budget surplus as a model. She says Democrats will offer alternatives to the GOP agenda.

Wisconsin state Senate members sworn into office

Newly elected members of the Wisconsin state Senate have been sworn into office.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly administered the oath Tuesday to four new members of the Senate and returning incumbents who won re-election.

The inauguration ceremonies in both the Senate and Assembly mark the beginning of the 2017 legislative session. Gov. Scott Walker is set to deliver his State of the State address on Jan. 10. But the real work won't begin until after he unveils his state budget in early February.

Republicans hold their largest legislative majorities in decades and it's the first time they control the state Legislature, governor's office and presidency in 47 years.

Chief justice swears in Assembly members

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Patience Roggensack has sworn in the 103rd state Assembly.

Roggensack administered the oath of office on Tuesday to Assembly members during a ceremony that included a presentation of colors by U.S. Marine reservists and an invocation by Diocese of Madison Bishop Robert Morlino. He implored lawmakers to live by God's commandments and asked them to consider both sides of every issue and be kind to their assistants.

The members then rose and Roggensack administered the oath of office en masse.

Eleven new Assembly members were sworn in, including seven Republicans and four Democrats.


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