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Vos names pre-existing conditions coverage as top priority, wants balance with Evers

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MADISON, Wis. - Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said that health care issues are top of mind as lawmakers plan to return to the state Capitol for a lame-duck session.

"My No. 1 thing that I would like to make sure we pass this lame-duck session is making sure we cover pre-existing conditions," Vos said.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told reporters that he wants to put into law agency rules that have been enacted in recent years related to conservative priorities, includes rules related to the voter ID law and creation of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

Fitzgerald met with his caucus Thursday and said they also discussed bringing up coverage of pre-existing conditions during the lame-duck session.

"There's obviously a ton of support for it, but there's still a few senators who are raising questions about the version the Assembly passed," Fitzgerald said.

The phrase "pre-existing conditions" dominated the election cycle with Democrats saying that electing Republicans would mean doing away with those protections.

"Democrats spent a whole lot of time beating up Gov. Walker, I think unfairly, but let's make sure that we put into state statute the protections that everybody said they agree on, which is that if you have a pre-existing condition, you shouldn't be able to be denied coverage," Vos said.

Walker was defeated by state Superintendent Tony Evers Tuesday night in the closest gubernatorial race in more than 50 years in Wisconsin.

Vos made headlines Wednesday when he told reporters that he is open to looking at ways to limit Evers' power and seeing if there were ways to "rebalance" powers of the executive.

But the Assembly speaker said that is a misinterpretation of what he said. Instead, Vos said, he wants to make sure there's a balance between the three branches of government.

"It's really just bringing people to the table and guaranteeing that both sides have an opportunity to make things happen as opposed to allowing one branch of government, which is not what our original Founding Fathers ever thought about is allowed to do," Vos said.

Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling said it's important to focus on the issues and not the Republican leaders' plans.

"To get distracted by a temper tantrum by someone who clearly is panicked over the loss of a Republican governor in the vision of a new day under a Democratic administration -- we want to get to work. Democrats want to get to work."

Vos added that he is willing to work with Evers to solve issues in the state.

"As we go forward, if Gov. Evers is sincere -- and I'm going to take him at his word that he wants to sit down and find common ground. I do, too -- but I also think that when you sit at a table, you have to make sure that both sides have the ability to find that common ground." Vos said.

Fitzgerald said there are issues he thinks he can work with Evers on and will be able to find common ground, including the opioid crisis. The majority leader said down the line, they will need to work on K-12 education and transportation issues, as well.

Fitzgerald downplayed the idea that he and Vos will limit the future governor's power and said he supports the speaker.

"Tony Evers is going to have the most powerful veto pen in the nation. The idea that he's not going to be able to keep the Legislature in check -- I think would be naive to think that. It's equal balance government. We will respect Tony Evers like we have any other governor," Fitzgerald said.

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