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Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

On final session day of 2009, Democrat priorities are misplaced

Legislation


While thousands of demonstrators marched and rallied in Washington D.C. last Thursday to voice concern about the economy and the huge growth of government, the state Senate took up dozens of bills, none of which addressed the critical need for job creation in Wisconsin.

Thursday was the final scheduled day for the Legislature to be in session during 2009.

The state Senate approved changes to clean up the controversial child welfare program, Wisconsin Shares. However, Democrats killed a series of amendments that I co-sponsored that would have created even stronger safeguards against fraud. The amendments included allowing counties to terminate Shares Benefits to a recipient if they are suspected of fraud and the case has been turned over to the DA, prohibiting a parent that works in a day care facility from receiving a child care subsidy, prohibiting a parent who is a child care provider unless they have been granted a waiver by DCF or licensing municipality from receiving a child care subsidy, and requiring a prospective provider to be fingerprinted by local law enforcement and that fingerprint must be run through a database to determine that the prospective provider has never been convicted of the prohibitions on child care licenses.

Education legislation supported by WEAC was approved that merely sets the state up to receive federal Race to the Top funding. The legislation doesn’t allow a school district to fire or discipline a bad teacher and actually makes the use of student test data in evaluating teachers a mandatory subject of collective bargaining.

On behalf of a school superintendent, I authored amendments that would have allowed school boards to establish and run charter schools and would have allowed a teacher evaluation to a be “a factor” in determining if a teacher is to be suspended or terminated. Both education reform amendments were killed by Senate Democrats.

Drunk driving legislation was approved unanimously that differs slightly from an Assembly version approved earlier this fall. The Legislature could work in the next few weeks to work out differences and vote on a measure before the end of the year. Unclear is the extra costs the legislation could mean for municipalities due to additional court proceedings, prosecutions, and prison and jail incarcerations. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates the annual cost to the state could be in the millions of dollars.

Taxpayer funding of state Supreme Court races was approved that I voted against. The Senate also approved changing the way the DNR Secretary is chosen. I voted against the legislation.

Those were some of the items scheduled on the final day of the session for the year by Democrats that control the state Senate. The Senate failed to address any legislation relating to the state economy, the state business climate, job creation, job retention, taxes, or spending, clearly the most important issues confronting our state.

Governor Doyle reportedly may call the Legislature into special session to consider the proposed mayoral takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools, a concept that appears to have little support anywhere in Wisconsin. The priorities of the governor and legislative Democrats that control the senate and Assembly are out of whack.

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