Members of the state Legislature paid tribute to former Sen. Mike Ellis on Tuesday as they voted to name a highway interchange in Winnebago County after the former GOP state senator.

Sen. Rob Cowles, who was one of Ellis’ closest friends in the Senate during their time serving together, reminded the chamber “life is fragile” and said it was still difficult to talk about the Neenah Republican nearly a year after his death. He called Ellis, who served more than four decades in the Legislature, one of the “greatest leaders in the history of the state.”

“He was an incredible leader. He was a budget expert. He could do a tutorial on almost any issue on his blackboard especially with numbers, and he was one heck of a lot of fun to know,” Ellis said.

The bill also passed the Assembly on a voice. It now heads to Gov. Tony Evers’ desk.

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