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Our View: Expect little action from Legislature ... again
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Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch signaled Wednesday that partisanship ain't dead in Madison. Not that anyone expected it to be anything but alive and well.

Huebsch, R-West Salem, talked about the Republican-controlled Assembly's agenda for this legislative session. It includes a focus on passing economic development proposals backed by Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.

But it also includes efforts to pass health reforms that Democrats have long opposed, including making health savings accounts tax deductible and forcing hospitals to disclose how much medical procedures cost. It will be a good thing for these ideas to receive vigorous debate in the state capitol. But it would be better if those proposals were being discussed and compared to all other ideas about fixing health care in Wisconsin.

The Democrats want to pass a form of universal health care that would be funded through a payroll tax. Their intriguing but controversial plan was a major sticking point in the recent biennial budget discussions until Senate Democrats pulled it off the table.

But Huebsch seems to indicate Assembly Republicans are not interested in debating the Democrats' proposal beyond the committee level. That's unfortunate. Regardless of how you feel about universal health care, or about health savings accounts, Wisconsin residents benefit most from serious study of all options.

Republicans ought to be at least discussing universal health care, and Democrats ought to give serious consideration to proposals their GOP counterparts have made.

Same goes for campaign finance reform.

Gov. Doyle in December called on the Legislature to pass campaign finance reforms, but there, of course, is great disagreement between Democrats and Republicans. One of the greatest chasms exists on the idea of public financing for political campaigns. Specifically, Rep. Steve Hilgenberg, D-Dodgeville, and others are proposing that state Supreme Court races be funded by public, rather than private, money. Given the recent explosion of special-interest cash in judicial races, and the ethical cloud hanging over the most recently-elected justice, it's a proposal certainly worth of consideration and debate.

But, again, Huebsch said he isn't optimistic the Assembly will tackle campaign finance reform before the session ends in March.

With the Senate controlled by Democrats, and Republicans holding a slim advantage in the Assembly, little is expected to pass and become law in 2008.

More of the same.