Area lawmakers settling into new roles
WALWORTH Walworth County's newly elected lawmakers are settling in, bracing for a session of difficult issues.
The state deficit is estimated around $3.3 billion, unemployment is close to 8 percent and lawmakers greatly differ on what will turn the economy around.
Gov.-elect Scott Walker plans to call an emergency jobs session early next year—a prelude to the difficult road that lay ahead at the state Capitol.
"We all understand the challenge, and we all understand none of this was going to be easy or fun," said District 32 Rep.-elect Tyler August, R-Walworth. "The accounting tricks used in the past, we're all out of tricks.
"As the saying goes, it's time to get down to business and actually budget, and the governor elect understands that," August said.
District 32 covers southern Walworth County.
Committee appointments for Assembly representatives were made over the past few weeks, and members already are drafting priorities for 2011.
August was appointed vice chairman of the consumer protection committee in addition to seats on the insurance committee and homeland security and state affairs committee.
August served as clerk for the consumer protection committee for two years as Rep. Thomas Lothian's chief of staff. Lothian will retire from public office at the end of the year.
Among the issues the committee will deal with next year is the rising cost of auto insurance. August also hoped to take up how businesses handle consumer data, setting guidelines to better protect Social Security numbers.
District 31 Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, chairman of the colleges and universities committee, isn't waiting until next year to address the rising cost of tuition.
The 20-year legislator hopes to introduce a bill that would cap UW tuition increases at 4 percent. He also urged the board of regents committee to reject a proposed 2 percent pay increase for faculty and staff.
District 31 includes northern Walworth County and parts of Jefferson and Waukesha counties.
District 43 Rep.-elect Evan Wynn, R-Whitewater, will join Nass on the colleges and universities committee in addition to the education committee. He was appointed by Speaker-to-be Jeff Fitzgerald earlier this week as the vice chairman of the committee on veterans and military affairs.
Wynn, an Iraq war veteran, served 22 years in the Marines and U.S. Army.
"As a veteran, I understand the service and sacrifice given by our outstanding men and women in uniform," Wynn said, "and one of my top priorities will be to tackle any and all issues they are facing."
District 43 covers western and northern Rock County and the northwestern corner of Walworth County.
Legislators will be sworn in Monday, Jan. 3. Walker has said he will immediately call a jobs session with hopes of lowering taxes on job creators to spur business growth and eliminating the tax on health care coverage.
Knilans preparing for new role
By Jim Leute
Joe Knilans has his Capitol office picked out.
Less than four weeks before he's sworn in as the new representative of the 44th Assembly District, however, Knilans still needs to round out his staff...of one.
"I'm in the second round of interviews for that position right now," Knilans said.
District 44 covers the city of Janesville.
Since defeating three-term Democrat Mike Sheridan in November, Knilans has made several trips to Madison to meet with the Republican Assembly Caucus and prepare for Monday, Jan. 3, the day he'll officially move into that new office.
Knilans committees and a comment on each:
-- Transportation committee: "I think I can help usher through the I-90/39 widening project and make other infrastructure improvements that will benefit people in Rock County from safety and jobs perspectives."
-- Jobs, the economy and small business committee: "It's important to market Janesville in Madison, and this committee is all about one of the main reasons I'm going to Madison: to return jobs and build a strong economy in Janesville."
-- Public health and safety committee, vice chairman: "A lot of meaningful legislation that ensures the safety of everyone in Wisconsin comes out of this committee. The recent texting ban while driving and seat belt laws are examples. We'll also ensure that products made in Wisconsin are safe."