TREE DECORATING

The State Capitol Christmas Tree being decorated in the State Capitol in Madison.

The evergreen that's placed in the Capitol each winter is now officially known as the "Wisconsin State Christmas Tree," at least according to a resolution that cleared the Assembly Tuesday. 

The action, which followed a heated, 30-minute debate on the floor, came after Gov. Tony Evers last week referred to the tree as a "holiday tree" rather than a "Christmas tree."

The resolution — which received the longest discussion of any measure considered on the last floor session day of 2019 — drew criticism from Democrats, most of whom voted against its passage

Rep. Lisa Subeck, who's Jewish, said while she sees it as a "Christmas tree," giving it an official label makes it exclusive rather than inclusive. And she slammed Republicans for "making a political statement" through the language. 

"We know we are not in the majority religion, you don’t need to beat that into our heads again and again and again," the Madison Democrat said. 

But Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, countered that Evers himself made it a "political game" by referring to it as a "holiday tree." 

"Call it what it is: Everybody knows it’s a Christmas tree," he said. 

Four Democrats voted to support the resolution: Reps. Jill Billings, Steve Doyle, LaKeshia Myers and Robyn Vining. Rep. Shelia Stubbs, who missed the vote, also asked to be recorded as supporting it when she returned to the floor. 

Before Evers' Republican predecessor, Scott Walker, took office, the evergreen was referred to as a "holiday tree" for more than two decades. Walker, though, referred to it as a "Christmas tree" over his tenure. 

The vote came after lawmakers approved a resolution to recognize the week of Thanksgiving as National Bible Week across the state. That language passed on an 86-9 vote without debate. Nine Democrats, including Madison Reps. Chris Taylor, Melissa Sargent and Lisa Subeck, opposed it. 

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