VIDEO REPORT: Democrats Take Control Of State Senate

UPDATED Tuesday, July 17, 2012 --- 12:55 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Democrats say they want to bring the Legislature back in a special session to take up four issues related to job creation, but the Republican head of the Assembly is dismissing the request as political theater.

Republicans transferred power in the state Senate on Tuesday in a brief meeting that was largely ceremonial. Democrats took control after John Lehman won a recall election over Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard.

Democratic Majority Leader Mark Miller says the people want immediate action and don't want to wait until next year.

But Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald calls Miller's request political theater and says it amazes him Democrats want to talk about job creation after they rejected a bill passed by the Assembly designed to help a new iron mine open in northern Wisconsin.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.


UPDATED Tuesday, July 17, 2012 --- 11:26 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Democrats have elected Sen. Fred Risser as president of the state Senate after taking majority control following a victory in a recall election.

John Lehman's victory in Racine gave Democrats a 17-16 edge. The Senate met Tuesday for the first time since Lehman's win, which was upheld following a recount.

Risser is the longest serving state lawmaker in the country, having been in the Legislature since 1957. The Senate president position traditionally goes to the most senior lawmaker.

Lehman and Jerry Petrowski, a Republican who won in a recall election in a vacant seat in the Wausau area, were ceremoniously sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley.

Both received standing ovations after being introduced prior to the swearing in and after they took the oath of office.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.


UPDATED Tuesday, July 17, 2012 --- 10:54 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Milwaukee Sen. Lena Taylor will serve as co-chair of the Legislature's powerful budget committee now that Democrats have majority control in the Senate.

Her appointment was announced Tuesday minutes before the Senate was to meet for the first time with Democrats in the majority following the recall victory of Sen. John Lehman of Racine.

That win, confirmed through a recount, gives Democrats a 17-16 edge.

It also means that Democrats control Senate committees for at least the remainder of the year.

New Senate Majority Leader Mark Miller announced that Taylor gets the coveted Joint Finance Committee co-chair slot.

Lehman, and Sen. Chris Larson of Milwaukee were also named to the committee, which isn't scheduled to meet this year but likely will to handle emergency funding requests and other issues.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.


Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2012 --- 7:00 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Democrats are scheduled to take control of the Wisconsin state Senate on Tuesday.

John Lehman of Racine was sworn in Monday following his victory in a June recall over Republican incumbent Van Wanggaard. That gives Democrats a 17-16 majority through the end of this year.

But the November elections will determine which party will have control starting in 2013. With new legislative districts favoring Republicans going into effect, it will be difficult for Democrats to maintain control of the chamber into next year.

Democrats on Tuesday plan to elect Democratic Sen. Fred Risser of Madison as Senate president and Sen. Tim Carpenter of Milwaukee as president pro tempore. Beyond that, little of substance is expected to occur.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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