Home  >  Wisconsin  >  Democrats rush in as Assembly GOP convenes session early

Democrats rush in as Assembly GOP convenes session early

By   /   February 18, 2011  /   No Comments

By Laurel Patrick   Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON — Democrats in the state Assembly on Friday thwarted an effort by Republicans to advance Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill on a voice vote.

Assembly Republicans convened earlier than expected — and while Democrats were not on the floor — and called for the vote on Walker's plan that would all but eliminate collective bargaining power for 175,000 state workers.

Democrats rushed into the chamber objecting to the action, and Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, demanded that the vote to be rescinded.

Assembly Majority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, conceded that the Democrats were correct.

“We’re going to go back to the amendable stage of this bill," he said. "I didn’t think you were going to show up.”

State Rep. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, sent out a statement calling the Republican’s actions “un-American.”

“In all the years I’ve been in the Legislature, there has never been a time when the majority party has shown such reckless disregard for the laws of our state,” said Shilling. “Republicans might have the majority, but they are not above the law. They need to follow the rules just like everyone else.”

The Assembly adjourned after giving the OK to delay Walker’s budget address to March 1, which the Senate approved earlier Friday. The governor was expect to give his budget address on Tuesday.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday. State Rep. Robin Vos, R-Burlington, said in a news release the decision was made for security reasons.

Thousands of protesters have descended on the Capitol this week after Walker announced his plan to restructure collective bargaining. On Friday, national figures including civil-rights activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson came to the Capitol to join the throngs who has assembled in protest.

It is still “up in the air” when the Senate might reconvene, according to Andrew Wellhouse, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau. Democrats fled the Capitol on Thursday to halt action on Walker's budget bill in that chamber.

Officially, the Senate can reconvene whenever Senate President Michael Ellis, R-Neenah, calls them back into session..

Wellhouse said the only Democrat that Scott Fitzgerald spoke with on Friday was Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller, D-Monona, and that was to discuss “safety in the Capitol … (there has been) no ongoing conversation.”

Jackie Clews contributed to this report.