After winning control of both houses of the Legislature and the governor’s office, Wisconsin Republicans have a long list of changes they plan to enact over the next two years.
Among those changes are more tax cuts and less regulations for business, an attempt to overturn federal health care reform through the courts, and the repeal of the state’s moratorium on new nuclear power plants.
State Rep. Kevin Petersen, the Waupaca Republican who was elected to his third term in the Assembly in November, will have a pivotal role in implementing many of those changes.
Assembly Speaker-elect Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, has named Petersen to the Ways and Means Committee, the Energy and Utilities Committee, the Committee on Health and the Joint Audit Committee.
Petersen will also chair the Assembly’s Committee on Insurance.
“We’re going to look at every regulation and every mandate in Wisconsin,” Petersen said regarding his role on the Committee on Insurance.
One area for immediate review will be auto insurance.
Petersen said the minimum amounts of auto insurance coverage required by the state doubled during the Doyle administration. The new law that went into effect in June required motorists to have at least $100,000 of coverage for accidents, and increased the minimums from $25,000 to $50,000 per injured person, and from $10,000 to $15,000 for damage.
“We’ll be introducing legislation to repeal the auto insurance increases,” Petersen said.
In the last session of the Legislature, Petersen also opposed a bill that required health insurance policies to cover the costs of providing hearing aids and treatment for deaf children. He noted that the bill only covered one out of three children and omitted self-insured businesses.
“Sound legislation in insurance is not only beneficial to our economy, but it is key to a family’s financial stability,” Petersen said.
As a member of the Energy and Utilities Committee, Petersen plans to introduce legislation to repeal Wisconsin’s 27-year-old moratorium on nuclear power.
“That legislation is already being drafted,” Petersen said.
Petersen said that Gov.-elect Scott Walker plans to sign two documents as soon as he is sworn into office on Jan. 3, 2011.
One will be a memo to state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, authorizing him to join Florida and 20 other states in a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the federal health care reform law enacted under President Barack Obama.
The law is being challenged on constitutional grounds because it mandates the purchase of health insurance from private companies.
Walker will also declare an economic emergency on his first day in office and call the Legislature into special session.
“We plan to be working all January to help businesses in Wisconsin by providing tax relief and the tools they need to create jobs,” Petersen said.
Petersen said Republicans in Madison will focus on cutting regulations and streamlining the permitting process.
As a member of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, Petersen hopes to change the way state government operates.
“All the government reforms we will be doing this session will go through Ways and Means,” Petersen said. “Smaller government is better government and we’ll be looking at how to make government smaller.”
As a member of the Joint Audit Committee, Petersen said he will look for ways to resolve Wisconsin’s $3.3 billion structural deficit.
“You can’t spend more than you take in. We’re going to cut the budget,” Petersen said. “It has to be cuts. We’re not going to raise taxes.”
He said the committee will audit state programs and look for effective ways to save money and eliminate abuses.
“It’s not going to be business as usual in Madison,” Petersen said.