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New legislative session begins today

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MADISON (WSAU)   Wisconsin legislators will begin their new session today – and Governor Scott Walker says he’ll have them approve a more moderate agenda than in the last two years. The Republican Walker tells the Wisconsin State Journal that he’ll focus on the state budget and job creation. And he predicts less turbulence in the second half of his term than in the first half.

Walker said none of his plans for the new session will prompt massive protests, like those which rocked the Capitol when he virtually ended collective bargaining for most public union employees. Walker said his budget priorities include incentives to create jobs, worker training, tax cuts, more education reforms, and new-and-improved transportation projects. The governor also says he wants to a new approve a more efficient way to approving state mining permits, and incentives to create venture capital for new start-up companies.

Some of these measures expect to be controversial. But Walker says he wants to avoid the divisiveness that marked the previous two years in Madison. As a result, he’ll encourage his G-O-P majority not to bring up hot-button conservative proposals like making Wisconsin a right-to-work state, ending same-day voter registration, bringing back political appointees to run elections, and restricting immigration. Walker has supported most of those ideas in the past. He says he not flip-flopping on them now, but he says the state needs to focus on adding jobs.

Former Democratic lawmaker Mordecai Lee, who’s now a professor at U-W Milwaukee, says Walker has become much more careful politically, after surviving last year’s recall effort. Walker’s up for re-election next year, and pollster Charles Franklin says he’ll need to maintain his position as a national conservative leader – while not provoking a backlash among Wisconsin voters.

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