February 10, 2016

GOP takes a pass on Senate hearings

A state Senate hearing on health care exchanges was a Democrats-only affair on Friday. State Senator Jon Erpenbach, the committee chair, said that was disappointing. “The exchange is designed to give people who don’t have access to that, the exact same choices that we (elected officials) have,” said Erpenbach. “We have a governor who doesn’t really care about that right now. We have a Senate Republican leader who doesn’t care about that right now.”

AUDIO: Senator Jon Erpenbach (:40) 

Democrats regained control of the Senate following recalls in July, and even though the legislative floor period had ended, they assumed leadership of committees. But Senator Scott Fitzgerald, the GOP leader who expects to regain control of the chamber in November, has elected to not appoint members of his caucus to all of them.

“It is unprecedented that any leader would fail to appoint members to a Senate standing committee, especially regarding things as important as unemployment, our veterans and health care,” said a statement from Majority Leader Mark Miller. “It is unfortunate that the Senate Republicans have failed to take their jobs seriously and realize the importance of committee work. The people of Wisconsin are looking for cooperation and hard work on the issues they care most about. Senate Democrats continue to move forward we would hope Senate Republicans would join us.”

Fitzgerald said recent hearings held by standing committees have had a political motivation. “After gaining the majority in July, Senator Miller dismantled the existing standing committees to benefit the Democrats’ political goals – all at the taxpayers’ expense,” said a statement from Fitzgerald. “Unlike Senator Miller, I refuse to waste taxpayer money on committees that were designed to give his senators political material to put on their campaign literature. What’s truly unprecedented is convening standing committees months after the legislative session has adjourned, in the midst of a campaign cycle.”

READ: Senator Mark Miler statement (PDF)

READ: Senator Scott Fitzgerald statement (PDF)

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