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New lawmakers were sworn in earlier this week with a lot of talk of bipartisanship. We'll see how that translates into action.

 Mining. One thing that does not bode well is that Senators Tim Cullen (D-Janesville) and Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) have not been assigned by their party leaderships to the mining committee. The two senators led a Select Committee in 2012 to study the issues and devise mining legislation that “provides the certainty the industry asked for while also protecting our environment, especially our water,” according to Sen. Cullen, quoted in The Capital Times.

 The League of Women Voters believes mining policy should not weaken environmental protection, and it must provide ample opportunities for citizen input and, when needed, legal remedy.

 State budget. Citizen Action’s Robert Kraig says that of all the budget decisions Governor Walker is likely to make this year, “none will have a bigger impact than whether Wisconsin accepts over $12 billion in federal health care reform money over the next decade to fill the holes in BadgerCare.” Read Kraig's column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

 Last fall John Keckhaver, who leads a public policy consulting firm in Madison, spoke to the League’s legislative committee about how to follow the state budget. He noted the budget is a “nearly continuous process.” Last year the Governor sent instructions to state agencies, and the agencies submitted their requests. In February the Governor will release the executive budget, which will be introduced as legislation. It will have analysis and hearings before having a vote in each house. Here are ways to follow the budget process:

Visit the Legislative Fiscal Bureau website for official documents and nonpartisan summaries

Subscribe to Keckhaver’s budget alerts on his website

Subscribe to the Wisconsin Budget Project blog

Call your legislator’s office with specific questions.

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