Nov. 5, 2014 – Republicans in Wisconsin saw major gains with sweeping wins in races for Governor and Attorney General, and retained sizeable majorities in the State Senate and Assembly. Governor Scott Walker and Attorney General-Elect Brad Schimel rode the wave to comfortable statewide victories in their respective races.
Nationally, Republicans took control of the Senate and also made gains in the House of Representatives. Locally, it was status quo as the only change came in the 6th Congressional seat when Congressman Tom Petri announced his retirement, allowing State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) to win his seat.
Until the final results are completed, the Senate Republicans’ majority currently stands at 19-14. Grothman will resign his State Senate seat, creating an open seat in the near future. A special election to fill his seat will occur shortly thereafter, but it is expected that Republicans will retain the seat.
Assembly Republicans also received gains in the November election. Official results indicate that Assembly Republicans gained three seats. Their majority has grown to 63 seats in the 99 seat body.
Preview of 2015 Session
By growing the Senate majority and continuing to have a sizable majority in the Assembly, Governor Walker and Republicans will be able to control the agenda over the next legislative session. Governor Walker last month started to lay the groundwork for his next biennial budget proposal. Walker’s campaign focused on job creation and taxes, and that theme should continue into the 2015-16 session.
Assembly Republicans announced their agenda plans for next session at a news conference before the election. Calling it the "Forward Agenda," Assembly Republicans laid out various policy items that include balancing the budget without tax increases, addressing the transportation budget, government reform and tax fairness as just a few policy items of many announced.
Cale Battles is a government relations coordinator with the State Bar of Wisconsin. He can be reached at org cbattles wisbar wisbar cbattles org, or by phone at (608) 250-6077.
The Decline of Lawyer/Legislators Continues
The 2014 elections also continued the declining trend of attorneys serving in the Wisconsin Legislature, from 17 in 2011-12 to 14 starting in January for the 2015-16 session.
There are a total of 12 attorneys serving over the next two years in the Assembly (eight Democrats and four Republicans): Dave Heaton (R-Wausau); Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie); Cody Horlacher (R-Whitewater); Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee); Jim Ott (R-Mequon); Chris Taylor (D-Madison); Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska); Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee); Robb Kahl (D-Monona); Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire); Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee) and Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake).
Meanwhile, two attorneys will serve in the upper chamber beginning in January: Fred Risser (D-Madison) and Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).
Inauguration Day for the 2015-16 legislative session is scheduled for Jan. 5, 2015.