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Senate passes bill reorganizing Commerce

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin state Senate has passed a bill that would reorganize the state Commerce Department into a public-private hybrid.

Gov. Scott Walker has argued for changing the makeup of the department to place the regulatory functions of the agency elsewhere and leave the new corporation created free to focus exclusively on economic development. He sees it as being key to fulfilling his promise to create 250,000 jobs.

The new Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. would be compromised of private workers, not state employees.

That idea has drawn criticism from union leaders and Democrats who say the jobs could be filled with political cronies of the governor and members of the corporation’s board.

The bill passed 21-10 Wednesday. The Assembly was expected to pass it later Wednesday.

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