MADISON - Newly selected state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos tells his Republican colleagues that he will work together with Democrats to set a new tone in Wisconsin.
Vos was unopposed for speaker Tuesday. He will take over when the Legislature reconvenes in January with Republicans in control of the Assembly just as they were the prior two years.
But Vos says no party has a monopoly on good ideas and he wants to be inclusive in how he leads.
Vos also promises to carry out an aggressive agenda, focused on reforming the state's income tax code, balancing the state budget, cutting regulations and improving education.
Rep. Scott Suder was also selected by GOP lawmakers as Republican majority leader for the next two years.
Sen. Chris Larson of Milwaukee was elected as Democratic leader in the state Senate.
Larson was chosen Tuesday during a closed-door meeting of Democrats who are in the minority in the Senate heading into the 2013 session. Larson was challenged by state Sen. Jon Erpenbach for the leadership post.
Erpenbach is a 14-year veteran of the Senate who previously served as minority leader a decade ago. The 32-year-old Larson was just elected in 2010 and has emerged as one of Gov. Scott Walker's sharpest critics.
Larson says he is committed to working with Walker and Republicans in the majority. Larson says he intends to be a voice for the middle class.
Republicans hold an 18-15 majority in the Senate. The Republican leader is Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau.
WOODRUFF - The capitol may be far away but one of our local legislators wants to bring it closer. Assemblyman Rob Swearingen is meeting with constituents around the 34th district.
He visited Woodruff and Eagle River today.
Swearingen is five months into his freshman term. He wants to make sure people can put a face to his name.
He also wants reach those who might be skeptical of him because of his political party.
"You get that, just because I have the "R" in the back of my name that you're automatically not going to be friendly to those issues. And we encourage you to reach out. I may respond and it may not be the response you want to hear, but if you're going to ask me an honest question I'm going to give you an honest answer," says Rep. Swearingen.
Swearingen says everyone's working hard on the budget in Madison. He's hearing a lot of concerns about school funding locally.
"I just really feel that people should be engaged with their own local legislators so the legislator knows them, and knows how they feel. And I showed him my tax bill and he got a real perspective for someone who's on a fixed income and how all the costs for education impact one of his constituents," says Shirley Kufeldt, from Conover.
"We're looking for more funding for the K-12 funding program. I think there's been a lot of heightened awareness in the capital on both sides of the isle and in the Governor's office. So I'm looking for hopefully some good results to help rural schools as the budget moves forward before the Governor signs it in the first part of July," says Rep. Swearingen.
Swearingen's first budget motion was to allow Nicolet College to be eligible for state aid based on enrollment. That motion passed unanimously.
He says his weekly drive to his office in Madison is a reality check.
"There's the state capitol and you realize that your office is inside that building. It's a really surreal feeling to walk into that building each morning. Every time I press that button, whether it's green or red, I am voting on behalf of over 50,000 people in the 34th Assembly District. And that is something you don't take lightly," says Rep. Swearingen.
Swearingen will continue district dialogues on Monday. He'll be in Florence, Rhinelander and Crandon.
Florence, May 20th 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Maxsells Restaurant Inn & Pub, 209 Central Ave, (US Highway 2)
Crandon, May 20th 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM Forest County Courthouse, Board Room
ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - A week with little to no rain pushed fire risks dangerously high across northern Wisconsin. A fire in Bayfield spanning 9-thousand acres destroyed 17 homes. Fire crews want everyone to be smart about burning this time of year.
A small burn got out of control on Loop Heights Road in Pine Lake today. Fire Chief, Brian Gehrig, says the weather conditions make it easy for fires to get out of control.
MERRILL - You won't find candy bars or chips in the new vending machine at Ministry Good Samaritan in Merrill. This machine dispenses prescription medication.
It won't replace the regular pharmacist. But it will help patients who visit the hospital late at night.
"It allows patients to receive full prescriptions after hours for the local pharmacies. So if you have babe in arms that's sick that needs a prescription, we can fill that full prescription and get you on your way within less than five minutes," says Pharmacy Manager Jim Mason.
The machine has anything you would need for infections or pain; the kind of things a person goes to the ER for.
It's the fifth machine in Ministry facilities. Pharmacy Manager Jim Mason says they have a track record of safety. Each prescription is triple checked before it's dispensed.
"There has never been an error from dispensing the InstyMeds. So it's extremely safe, and it's well over a million prescriptions through InstyMeds," says Mason.
So far the Good Samaritan machine has filled around a hundred prescriptions. Doctors and patients say it's worked out well.
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