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Hours after the state Assembly voted to strengthen background checks for certain gun purchases, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald signaled the bill is unlikely to advance in the Senate. 

"I don't see that bill moving forward," said Fitzgerald, R-Juneau.

But Fitzgerald said another bill giving a special environmental exemption to a frac-sand processor might pass his chamber this year.

The comments came hours before Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, announced they would convene an extraordinary session -- their second in recent days -- to consider election law changes. That was a reversal from previous indications that the Legislature's 2018 business had concluded.

In a surprise move Thursday, the Assembly passed a bill to subject certain purchases of long guns, such as rifles and shotguns, to a type of state-level background check that already applies to handgun sales. The state check includes more data on criteria that would legally bar someone from buying a gun, such as information from the state Circuit Court Access Program, or CCAP.

Vos said the measure is meant as a stopgap until federal efforts, already underway, improve the thoroughness of background checks conducted by the FBI’s national system.

The proposal would not expand the criteria that can be used to deny a firearm sale, nor would it extend background checks to any types of gun sales not currently subject to them, such as private sales. Federal law requires federally licensed gun dealers to perform background checks on prospective buyers.

The background check measure, which passed without opposition, came amid a national debate about gun laws that followed a recent Florida school shooting and a subsequent wave of student activism, much of it advocating gun-control measures.

A student-led march to call for stricter gun control and school safety measures is scheduled in Washington, D.C. for Saturday and across the country, including in Madison.

Wetlands exemption revived

Fitzgerald also said it's possible the Senate could take up a wetlands bill providing a special exemption to environmental regulations for Meteor Timber to build a frac-sand facility in western Wisconsin.

"I think I have enough members, especially those on the wetlands bill, that are still interested in maybe taking a look at it," Fitzgerald said.

The Assembly passed the wetlands bill last month, and passed key provisions of it again in a different bill Thursday.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, state Sen. Rob Cowles, had said he did not intend to take up the Assembly changes in the Senate.

The Assembly bill includes a provision included at Meteor's request exempting the company from wetland permit conditions at a site at which they may build a $70 million frac sand processing plant along U.S. Interstate 94 between Tomah and Black River Falls.

State Journal reporter Steven Verburg contributed to this report.

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