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Lawmakers will have full plate

What's in store for the fall legislative session?

Wisconsin Legislature is scheduled to begin its fall session in mid-September, and the agenda set by Democratic leadership follows much of what we are seeing at the federal level.

While proposals to overhaul health care delivery are being debated in Washington, D.C., here in Wisconsin there is talk about bringing back "Healthy Wisconsin."

This initiative, which failed in the last legislative session, would create a state takeover of health care and would be funded by a new payroll tax on workers and job providers.

Leading state Democrats have suggested that if the federal government fails to nationalize health care, they will have this back-up plan ready that could succeed now that there is one-party control in Wisconsin.

In regards to carbon emissions, while the U.S. Congress is debating "Cap and Trade" legislation already passed by the House of Representatives, the Governor's Task Force on Global Warming is prepared to make state legislative recommendations.

The goal articulated by the task force is to dramatically reduce state carbon dioxide emissions.

It will be important that these efforts consider the economic challenges facing working families and businesses and move to enhance alternative energy resources, such as wind power and nuclear energy, rather than rely on new taxes or plans that shift costs to ratepayers.

Also being discussed is changing the school funding formula.

The recent budget bill made it significantly more difficult for school boards to manage budgets and the fallout could be dramatic.

As with any discussion on school financing, the devil is in the details. Changes should focus on how schools can save valuable resources and target spending to maximize student achievement.

Unfortunately already scheduled for September session is legislation that will impose new mandates on schools to teach union history. Instead of pushing a political agenda in schools, we should empower districts to focus on basic skills needed to succeed.

Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, can be reached at (715) 232-1390 or sen.harsdorf@legis.state.wi.us.

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