Wisconsin State Senate likely to elect Risser new Senate president


The longtime Democratic lawmaker who will likely be sworn in as State Senate president tomorrow Tuesday says he does not expect the full legislature to return for a special session this year. But, he says, committees run by Democrats could be busy.

When the full state Senate convenes on Tuesday, members will likely elect Madison Democrat Fred Risser as their new president. Risser is the nation’s longest-serving state legislator, and has been president before. He’s getting a chance to return because Democrats took back the majority in the Senate after Racine Democrat John Lehman defeated Republican Van Wanggaard in June’s recall election.

As president, Risser will have more control over when the Senate meets, and which bills come up for a vote. But, Risser told Wisconsin Public Radio Monday that it would be unrealistic to think that any new laws will be passed before the November election. “I doubt very seriously that there will be any special session,” he says. “The legislature is scheduled to meet in January, and Democrats will be prepared for that meeting. As soon as we take over, we will set up our committees and start working on the Spring agenda.”

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Risser says those committees could also dig into decisions made by the Walker administration. That includes the waiting list for the health care program, BadgerCare. “As soon as we take over the committees we are going to be holding some hearings on some of these matters, such as BadgerCare, education, jobs, and a number of other things. We hope to address this problem.”

Although the position of president is a coveted one in the Senate, it’s the majority leader who sets the agenda for the party in charge. That will likely be Senator Mark Miller of Monona, who was until now the Democrat’s minority leader.