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Lame Duck session may await the Wisconsin Legislature

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November 19, 2010

By Kyle Maichle

MADISON, Wisconsin: State legislators may see a lame-duck session of the Wisconsin Legislature in December 2010[1].

Outgoing State Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker and Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan want to have a lame-duck session to approve union contracts for state employees. This comes against a request from Governor-Elect Scott Walker to hold off on approving the contracts until he is sworn into office on January 3, 2011. The Governor-elect said that he may have a more difficult job of balancing the state's budget if the contracts are approved in lame-duck session[1].

The issue is a retroactive two-year contract that needs to be approved by the Legislature. State employees that are represented through collective bargaining have been working without a contract since July 1, 2009. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that state employees will have a two-year freeze on pay increases if the contracts are approved. The administration of outgoing Governor Jim Doyle is finishing up negotiations with union leaders. The Journal Sentinel also reported that agreements were reached with seven different bargaining units and the Doyle Administration. However, the agreements have not yet been approved by rank and file union members[1].

Speaker Sheridan and Senate Majority Leader Decker said that they would make every effort to get a vote scheduled during the lame-duck session. However, incoming Republican Senate President Scott Fitzgerald, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, and staff for Governor-Elect Walker said that they will not comment until they seen the actual contracts[1].

Staff for Speaker Sheridan and Senate Majority Leader have expressed concern on getting enough members in both houses to attend the lame duck session. A quorum of 58 members in the Assembly and 22 members in the Senate is needed before voting on the contracts. As of November 17, 2010, Democrats control the Assembly 49 to 45 with two independents and three vacant seats. The Senate is still controlled by Democrats 18 to 15. No date has been set on when the lame-duck session will happen[1].

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