News & Press: Advocacy News

Wisconsin State Legislature Holds Leadership Elections

Monday, November 21, 2016  
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The Wisconsin State Legislature is already back in action with each caucus electing their leadership for the 2017-2019 Legislative Session. The legislature is made up of four caucuses, the Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats, Assembly Republicans, and the Assembly Democrats, each selecting members to represent and lead their group, in caucus as well as on the floor. 

The Senate Republicans held their elections first, two days following the election. The now 20-member caucus voted to maintain their current Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), making him the longest serving Senate Majority Leader in state history. Following his re-election, Sen. Fitzgerald said he was honored to once again represent the group and was thrilled to grow the ranks for the upcoming legislative session. The Senate Republican caucus also elected first term Senator Roger Roth (R-Appleton) to serve as their president.

The Assembly Republicans followed suit, re-electing their current Speaker of the House Robin Vos (R-Rochester) to lead the largest republican majority since 1957. Serving in the leadership role since 2013, Speaker Vos previously served as a Co-Chair of the Joint Finance Committee, which may have influenced his statement following his re-election. The Speaker turned immediately to work in his acceptance speech stating, “we’re going to work in this caucus, in this room to find a long-term, sustainable solution to funding transportation.”  In addition to Speaker Vos, the Assembly Republicans re-elected Assembly Majority Leader James Steineke (R-Kaukauna).

Staying consistent, the Assembly Democrats also re-elected their previous Minority Leader Peter Barca. The Representative acknowledged the “gut-wrenching and just shocking election” noting he thought Trump’s nomination would lean the country democratic. Barca continued by saying Democrats need to do a “total Reassessment” and focus on reconnecting with the working class. Representative Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) was elected to serve as the assistant minority leader.

Finally, the Senate Democrats have postponed their leadership elections until November 22nd. The delay was most likely caused by the canvasing of votes occurring in their current Minority Leaders race. In an astoundingly close victory, Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D – La Crosse) won the 32nd District by 58 votes. Right now, canvasing teams are working to certify the votes while her opponent, former Senator Dan Kapanke, awaits to see whether he will request a recount.

The members of the Wisconsin State Legislature will be inaugurated into their offices on January 3rd, 2017. At that time, the legislature will begin their new session and get to work on what the Assembly Republicans are calling their busiest session yet. To learn more about the state legislature and upcoming events stayed tuned or visit