UPDATE: Democrats, Republicans Spar Over Who Has Mandate

UPDATED: Monday, January 7, 2013 --- 1:50 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- There's no argument that Republicans have the majority of seats in both the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly as it begins its two-year session Monday.

But Democrats argue the GOP does not have a mandate.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson says the only reason Republicans have more seats in the Legislature is because they redraw political boundaries last year to their advantage. He calls it a "gerrymandered mandate."

But Republican leaders are rejecting that, saying voters showed repeatedly last year through the general election and recalls that they support Republicans.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says, "We made the case to the voters of Wisconsin," he told reporters during a news conference.

Fitzgerald won a recall election last year, as did Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

UPDATED: Monday, January 7, 2013 --- 11:45 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Democratic leaders of the state Assembly and Senate say they hope to heal wounds this year and work in a more bipartisan fashion with Republicans.

Democrats don't have the votes to stop Republican initiatives in the Legislature. But Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca said Monday before the start of the 2013 session that the public expects members of both parties to work together.

He says hopefully "past wounds will be healed to some degree." Last session was marked by the bruising collective bargaining fight that led to series of recalls against lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker.

Barca and Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson are calling on Republicans to work with them on bills to strengthen worker training and improve the economy.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

POSTED: Monday, January 7, 2013 --- 10:30 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Legislature begins its two-year session with the swearing in of new members.

Twenty five new Assembly members and three new state senators officially take the oath of office on Monday and begin their terms.

There are 14 new Democrats and 11 new Republicans in the Assembly. There are two new Republicans and one new Democrat in the Senate.

Republicans have control of both houses, just as they did during the previous two-year session. They have a 59-39 advantage in the Assembly and an 18-15 edge in the Senate.

Republican leaders say they are focused on passing a bill making it easier to open a new iron ore mine near Lake Superior early in the two-year session.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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