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Republicans may try to end session early

With two of their members in Iraq and now holding only a 50-47 vote majority, Assembly Republicans may try to end the Legislative session this week. The session is currently scheduled to end on March 13. Assembly Democrats have been warned by the...

With two of their members in Iraq and now holding only a 50-47 vote majority, Assembly Republicans may try to end the Legislative session this week.

The session is currently scheduled to end on March 13.

Assembly Democrats have been warned by their leaders the current legislative session could effectively end before Friday.

In a Feb. 21 e-mail to colleagues, Rep. Tony Staskunas, West Allis, the Assembly Democratic Caucus chair, told his colleagues to plan on working long days on Tuesday and Thursday and to hold Wednesday open for a caucus.

"There is a possibility that the Assembly will not meet again in regular session after Thursday, Feb 28," the e-mail said.

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Republican spokespersons, however, say that is not necessarily the case, but caution it could depend on what happens on the Assembly floor. Madison insiders say Republicans are trying to end the sessions so as not to be embarrassed by Democrats who are expected to call for procedural "pulling" motions. They typically are used to call a bill out of a committee for a floor vote.

The advantage for Democrats is that it gets Republicans on record as voting against something and provides Democrats ammunition for upcoming elections.

The Republicans are working with a smaller majority because Rep. Mark Gundrum, R-New Berlin, and Rep. Roger Roth, Jr., Appleton, are on military assignment in Iraq.

Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker's, D-Weston, office notified members Friday morning the Senate will be in session on March 4 and 6 and March 11 and 13. Senators were advised to keep both March 5 and March 12, open for possible floor sessions.

Gov. Jim Doyle "fully anticipates the Legislature will go through March 13," according to a spokesperson in the Executive Office. "He expects the session to run its course as scheduled."

While both houses have announced plans to be in session Tuesday and Thursday, neither has detailed the list of legislation the majority in either house plans to consider on Thursday.

The Tuesday calendar in the Senate includes no Assembly-passed bills, while the Assembly's Tuesday calendar lists only two Senate-approved bills for consideration.

Negotiators from both houses and parties are meeting with officials of the Doyle Administration to reach an agreement on a budget adjustment bill, but none are more than slightly hopeful a deal can be reached on the package soon.

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Doyle is expected to formally notify the Legislature this week of the budget deficit. He's expected to call a special session on the budget shortly thereafter. The Legislature is already in a special session on campaign finance reform and state Supreme Court elections.

Dick Wheeler is a long-time Madison reporter and operates The Wheeler Report, which can be found online at www.thewheelerreport.com

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