Fitzgerald won’t support medical marijuana, looks toward tax cuts in 2020
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Friday there is not a bill for medical marijuana he will get behind, despite Republicans in the Assembly supporting multiple bills.
In 2020, he hopes to focus on decreasing property taxes among other efforts.
At an end-of-year press conference, the Republican senator from Juneau went over the legislature’s accomplishments for the year, including passing a budget on time. The year also showed how the leader handled a divided government, with sparring between the Senate, Assembly and governor’s office, including the firing of the head of the state agriculture agency, the first cabinet secretary not to be approved in 30 years.
Fitzgerald said “there are still concerns with some” of the cabinet picks waiting to be confirmed, and it’s possible they won’t all be approved before the end of the spring.
What he hopes they do accomplish is a cut to property taxes, noting how that bill went up for many Wisconsinites this year.
“I’m hearing it already in the district, people are a little surprised,” Fitzgerald said. “I know it’s still anecdotal, but people are concerned about a bump in their property tax bill.”
He said there are still bills to get through that will require funding, but he said he hopes by the end of the legislative agenda, they’ll have money left over to return to the public in tax cuts.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, hopes some of the bills they’ll take up in the meantime will help with crime.
“That’s one of the things we really want to focus on is to make sure we keep people safe,” Vos said. “So we’re going to have an entire package of proposals that we’ll announce in January that will really hopefully focus on what we think is the root cause of the problem, and that’s making sure we have access to mental health care while at the same time locking up the people who commit a crime and deserve to be behind bars.”
Vos said he also hopes to tackle prescription drug pricing by addressing pharmacy benefit managers, one of the players in health care getting the blame for rising costs.
.@SenFitzgerald says there is no bill on medical marijuana he would support. He said with the issues he sees with drunk driving, meth and other drugs, he doesn’t know why Wisconsin should introduce legal marijuana. #News3Now pic.twitter.com/L4LgIscU6k
— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) December 20, 2019
As for a drug some Wisconsinites want to turn to – medical marijuana – Vos said he would support it, but Fitzgerald said with the substances he already is trying to regulate, including alcohol, opioids and meth, he won’t take this on.
“We’ve got all these issues,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re spending all this not only revenue, but just energy trying to get a control on these substances that are just wreaking havoc across the state. I don’t know why this is a good time to introduce legal marijuana in Wisconsin.”
Another point of frustration for Fitzgerald is debates over funding to prevent homelessness. He said it didn’t feel like senators were involved in the process, though he said they did make progress on it this week.
“It’s a real public policy discussion that’s going on,” he said. “We saw numbers this morning that homelessness is up across the entire country, so I get it. It’s a real issue that has to be dealt with, but I can’t sit here today and say, ‘Yeah, we got a map that lays out from point A to point B.'”
The 12 Republicans in the Joint Finance Committee ignored a call from Gov. Tony Evers this week to meet and release $3.7 million in funding to combat homelessness in Wisconsin.
There are 350 homeless veterans on any given night in the state of Wisconsin. The $1.9M being withheld could be released today and help those in need. Thank you @GovEvers for your leadership and to my Democratic colleagues for showing up. pic.twitter.com/mfgi6bxwAf
— Evan Goyke (@RepGoyke) December 19, 2019
Fitzgerald is running for U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s seat in the 5th Congressional District, and he said any of the Republicans with him in the state Senate would make a good replacement for majority leader if he were to win.
He is also watching races for other Republicans in Wisconsin who are up for relection, including Sens. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Luther Olsen, R-Ripon.
He said he thinks freshmen legislators will be targeted but that the Republican candidates can stay on top.
“I think we’re in a really good position as far as maintaining the majority,” he said.
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