The recently concluded 2011-12 legislative session marked a historic period in our state. While a handful of issues often grabbed the headlines, this session was also remarkably productive and resulted in the passage of a large number of bipartisan bills. In fact, 96% of the 288 bills passed by both houses of the State Legislature were approved with bipartisan support.
The top priorities of the State Legislature this session focused on getting Wisconsin’s fiscal house in order and improving our state’s climate for job creation. To this end, an over $3 billion budget shortfall was eliminated while achieving a net reduction in the state tax burden. $800 million in overdue bills were paid and borrowing was reduced, resulting in an improvement in Wisconsin’s credit rating outlook.
We continue to see the positive results from these efforts, building on the improvements last year in the state’s credit outlook and in a number of business climate rankings. A recent Tax Foundation study found that Wisconsin was the 4th best state for new job creators and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Wisconsin has added over 17,000 private sector jobs in the first two months of this year.
At the same time, many important, bipartisan bills were passed that addressed concerns raised by citizens, law enforcement, and local elected officials. These bills included several that I authored or cosponsored, including:
· banning dangerous synthetic marijuana and stimulants often marketed as bath salts,
· addressing funding for the new St. Croix River Crossing,
· repealing car insurance regulations that increased rates on consumers,
· ensuring regional representation on the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, and
· repealing costly mandates on local governments.
In addition to the bills listed above, several bills I introduced that began as ideas brought forth by citizens were passed, such as considering the presence of a child during sentencing for domestic violence, allowing the permitting of overheight loads of hay and straw, and reducing red tape for dairy cooperative members in claiming the dairy cooperative investment credit.
Even as the legislative session has concluded, study committees and work on issues will continue. Please stay in touch by calling my office at 1-800-862-1092 or sending me an e-mail at Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wi.gov.