Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Back to work, Wisconsin

by Neal Kedzie - State Senator

October 13, 2011

Recently, the Governor announced a “Back to Work Wisconsin” special session, requesting the Legislature to continue working on job creation initiatives and focusing on more than two dozen bills, authored by Republicans and Democrats alike. While the Legislature is currently in its regular session discussing and acting on a myriad of bills, this special session call will place a significant demand on the Legislature’s efforts to stabilize and stimulate the state’s economy, and put people back to work.

A special session is similar to a regular session of the Legislature, but differs in that a special session is initiated by the governor through an executive order, which may list one or more specific issues. Authorized by the Wisconsin Constitution, a special session allows the governor to take on a greater role in directing legislation by setting a time and agenda for the lawmaking bodies. However, while the governor sets the tone and timeframe of the special session, the Legislature has the ultimate decision as to the product that comes out of the special session.

The special session and the Legislature’s regular session may convene on the same days, as may happen this Fall, making for an extremely busy time in Madison. As numerous bills on a variety of topics work their way through the legislative process, the Legislature is now also focused on the special session bills. The “Back to Work Wisconsin” Special Session bills center on proposals to create greater access to investment and venture capital, streamline various government regulations, better develop the skills of the state’s workforce, provide tax relief for economic development measures, improve the state’s transportation and infrastructure, and provide certainty in litigation. Although these are special session bills, they will still move through the normal legislative process in both houses.

One important factor to keep in mind is that what is done — or not done — at the federal level regarding job creation may impact what we do at the state level. In the state Legislature, we have committed ourselves to incubate job creation, but if similar action is not taken at the federal level, it may adversely impact Wisconsin. While the debate at the federal level centers around national spending, taxes, and the deficit, Wisconsin has been a shining light recently, both to our Midwestern neighbors, and the nation on the whole. The progress Wisconsin has made this year has not gone unnoticed, as other states look to Wisconsin as a model for solving their financial problems.

Often, special sessions can be landmark times in our state. It is interesting to note that past Wisconsin special sessions have included the issues of absentee voting by soldiers during World War I, veterans housing after World War II, accelerated construction of the state freeway system in 1963, raising the legal drinking age to 21 in 1986, and funding for a new baseball park for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1995. While some special sessions have sparked controversy, others have brought unity to the state. All have had a profound impact on the citizens of Wisconsin, and this one will perhaps be no different.

As the Legislature continues its work on these and many other economic development ideas, I look forward to the robust debate that is sure to come during this special session. We have a great deal of work ahead of us but are prepared to meet this challenge. Wisconsin needs to get back to work, and in order to do so, the Wisconsin Legislature needs to do likewise.

Kedzie can be reached in Madison at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882 or by calling toll-free (800) 578-1457. He may be reached in the district at (262) 742-2025 or online at