Capitol Notes

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Speculation is swirling over who'll run for Paul Ryan's seat -- now that the longtime Wisconsin congressman has said he is not seeking reelection this fall. 

Two Democrats, Randy Bryce and Cathy Myers, already were actively campaigning before the Republican's announcement last week. 

But, now that it's an open seat, more people from both parties are testing the waters.  In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com, how he thinks the race will shape up, in coming weeks.

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The U.S. Senate race between Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir and Delafield businessman Kevin Nicholson heated up late last week.  The two will face each other in a GOP primary in August.  The winner will take on Democrat Tammy Baldwin in November.  

Nicholson released the results of internal polling, that shows he is 18 points ahead of Vukmir.  In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, WUWM's Marti MIkkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com, whether he thinks the Vukmir camp should be worried.

It was a wild week at the State Capitol, as Gov. Walker scrambled to get a court to overturn a Dane County judge's order that he call special elections to fill two vacant legislative seats. 

A second Dane County judge and a Wisconsin Appeals court refused to delay the order.  Walker was thinking about getting the state Supreme Court but in the end, decided not to, and went ahead and scheduled the elections. 

After much hand-wringing, President Trump last week announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.  Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized the move -- calling it risky, amid fears it could spark a trade war.  

This was the first time that Ryan has wavered in his support for Trump's policies.  In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com if Ryan's backing away from Trump could be an issue, in the congressman's reelection bid.

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Gov. Scott Walker says he opposes President Trump's idea to arm teachers.  Instead, he talked last week about calling a special session to pass a comprehensive school safety agenda. 

This would mean the state Assembly, which has already adjourned for the year, would have to come back into session. 

In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com -- what are the chances of that happening?

JR Ross of Wispolitics.com talks about developments in Madison each Monday with WUWM's Marti Mikkelson.

This week, they discuss the recent flurry of activity in the Legislature.

One significant measure lawmakers approved was the passage of tighter restrictions on so-called "straw" gun sales. Those are sales to people buying guns for others, who are forbidden from owning the weapons.

Some Milwaukee leaders have fought for the restrictions for years. Marti asked JR what tipped the scales in Madison on this occasion.

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The state Senate could soon take up a sweeping welfare overhaul package.  The Assembly approved it late last week and the package consists of ten different measures.  One would increase work requirements for welfare recipients.  Another would require drug testing and treatment for people who live in public housing. 

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Gov. Scott Walker continues to plug away in tax breaks for Wisconsin families.  Last week, he and Assembly Republicans announced a deal for families to receive a $100 credit for each child -- and for the state sales tax to be waived the first weekend in August.  

Senate Republicans haven't gotten on board yet, and Democrats blasted the proposal, calling it an election year gimmick.  In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com about Walker's motives.

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Some Republican lawmakers want to revive the I-94 east-west project in Milwaukee County.  Gov. Walker didn't fund the stretch in the state budget.  But, two Milwaukee area legislators have proposed putting $25 million toward it.

In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com, whether shovels will be turned on this part of the freeway any time soon.

Gov. Scott Walker used last week's State of the State address to boast about his accomplishments in the past year.  They include securing the huge Foxconn deal and pouring more money into K-12 education.  And, Walker called on the state Legislature to pass a slew of welfare reform measures -- and approve a $100 per child tax credit.  

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Gov. Walker made headlines last week when he called for a special session to pass a number of welfare reform measures.  That includes one that would require parents of children on food stamps to work, or get job training, in order to receive at least three months of benefits.  

The proposal immediately touched off a barrage of criticism.  In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, WUWM"s Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com -- why this is such a hot button issue.

State lawmakers are holding a flurry of committee hearings this month, as they wrap up much of their work in this two-year legislative session.  Then, they'll largely turn their attention to the elections this fall. 

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says his party will be "very aggressive" in passing welfare reform measures.  But why is that a subject GOP lawmakers want to leave on voters' minds?  WUWM's Marti Mikkelson posed that question to JR Ross of wispolitics.com for this week's Capitol Notes conversation.

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State corrections officials are busy working on plans for shuttering two troubled juvenile prisons, after Gov. Scott Walker announced the closures late last week.  The announcement came as a surprise to many.  Despite lengthy probes into alleged mistreatment of inmates -- and inmate attacks on staff -- Walker had been defending the corrections department and the facilities.

For this edition of Capitol Notes, we look ahead to the big Wisconsin political stories of 2018.  JR Ross, of wispolitics.com, predicts Foxconn will top the headlines in this new year.  The state provided $3 billion in incentives for the Taiwanese company to locate here.  

WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked him if he thinks it'll be smooth sailing, now that the state and the company have signed a contract.

Ross also predicts that the governor's race, the Wisconsin U.S. Senate race and the future of House Speaker Paul Ryan will make big news in 2018. 

For our Capitol Notes conversation today -- we examine the year in politics.  One of the biggest Wisconsin stories of 2017 was Foxconn, and the state's $3 billion incentives package for the Taiwanese company to locate here.  

Gov. Walker championed the deal, saying the huge LCD screen manufacturing plant in Racine County will transform the state's economy.  But, Democrats were skeptical and blasted the plan during the debate.

WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com, why the governor pushed so hard to land Foxconn.

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