As the state Legislature begins its new session, the Senate majority leader says talks continue on a proposal to make Wisconsin a right-to-work state.
The issue gained steam after the election, although Governor Scott Walker has said it would be a distraction from other priorities on his agenda. Despite publicly urging Republicans to focus on other issues, Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said Monday that the governor has never directly told him not to bring up a bill this spring. “I’ve never had that conversation with the governor at all,” Fitzgerald told reporters Monday, shortly after an inauguration ceremony in his chamber. “We’ve talked about the issue in general, as part of a long laundry list of issues that are out there, but no, we’ve never had that type of conversation.”
Walker has said he still supports the idea of right-to-work legislation, which would prohibit employers from requiring union membership as a condition of employment, and has indicated he would not threaten to veto a bill if one were to pass the Legislature this spring.
Fitzgerald said right-to-work is still something his members are discussing and he’s found a lot of education is needed about what such a law would mean for Wisconsin. “It’s still an issue that’s bubbling out there…but it’s far more complex than I think many members really know.”
Despite those complexities, the Juneau Republican said that, if lawmakers are going to tackle right-to-work, it needs to be done early on this session. “I just don’t see that type of bill really moving, if it’s up against the pressure of an election cycle,” Fitzgerald said.