MADISON, Wisc. (WFRV) Wisconsin lawmakers returned to the capitol today for the start of the 2013 legislative session. Both sides of the aisle are promising more bipartisanship this time around.
After a stormy past legislative session that stripped public employee unions of collective bargaining rights, Senate and Assembly leaders say it's time to work together.
"Hopefully we can leave the contentious issues of the past behind us and instead focus on the things that will move Wisconsin forward," said Assembly Speak Robin Vos, R-Rochester.
"I think it's important for both sides to realize that it's about working together, collaborating and making it work for everybody in the state," said Senator Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay.
For many lawmakers being sworn into office for the 101st legislative session - the number one issue on their "to-do list" is job creation..
"I'm hopeful this session this time around, we'll look at bills from both sides of the aisle that actually help set up a system that means jobs right here in Wisconsin can be created," said Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber, D-Appleton.
"It's jobs, jobs, jobs, and that's something that both Republicans and Democrats can agree on," said Republican Rep. Dean Kaufert.
According to Assembly Speaker Vos, a new mining bill could be introduced for debate by next week. Republicans say it could create thousands of new jobs - while preserving the environment - one of the chief concerns among Democrats.
"I've said all along that I would support a mining bill so long as it doesn't put our lakes, rivers and streams at risk," said Sen. Hansen. "We have to make sure the environmental protection is in place."
"I think the mining legislation will pass," said Sen. Mike Ellis. "When we reach an agreement to match up job creation and protection of the environment - that will succeed."
While Republicans hold the majority in both the Assembly and the Senate, Gov. Walker has said he doesn't plan on pushing through any legislation that will bitterly divide the state.