Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wisconsin Senate Democrats Have Left The State To Keep From Reaching Quorum On Walker's Budget Repair Bill


More than 200,000 protesters expected to converge at the state capitol in protest against Governor Walker's Budget repair bill, which would eliminate collective bargaining for most state employees.

By H. Nelson Goodson
February 17, 2011

Madison - On Thursday, State Senator Alberta Darling (R) reported that all the Senate Democrats got into a bus and have left out of state and won't be back until next week. Darling became dissappointed that the democrats had left their jobs and were not at the morning session. But the democrats are doing their jobs by keeping the Walker budget repair bill from getting approved. The democrats are doing everything to protect the bargaining rights of state employees.
Republican Governor Scott Walker sent out a press release requesting the missing democrats to come back to work and vote on the budget repair bill. "Out of respect for the institution of the Legislature and the democratic process, I am calling on Senate Democrats to show up to work today, debate legislation and cast their vote. Their actions by leaving the state and hiding from voting are disrespectful to the hundreds of thousands of public employees who showed up to work today and the millions of taxpayers they represent," Walker stated.
Walker wants the Senate session to get quorum in order to pass his bill. Walker in an afternoon press conference said, that the bill is representing a modest change and he represents the majority of taxpayers and won't let protesters drown out their voices. Senators should show up for work for what they are paid to do. They can proposed amendments, debate and vote against the budget repair bill. Walker only understands, that the democrats don't have enough votes to make a difference on the bill, but only needs one senator to show up for quorum and get his bill approved.
Democrats will continue to oppose his bill, while Walker is pushing to bust union representation on collective bargaining for workers.
GOP legislators in other states are waiting to see, if Walker can actually succeed in busting state employee collective bargaining in Wisconsin. If Walker succeeds, out of state GOP legislators will move to eliminate collective bargaining for state union employees and public workers in other states.
Senator Jon Erpenbach (D) confirmed that all the Democratic senators have left the state and won't return until Walker and the Republicans seat down to negiotiate and reach a compromise. Minority Leader Mark Miller (D) also confirmed the senators won't return to Wisconsin until a compromise is reached. Both senators wouldn't disclosed their location. The 14 Wisconsin state senators have split up in groups, some are actually staying at the Best Western Clock Tower Resort in North-central Rockford, Illinois. The rest of the senators are in Dubuque, Iowa, according to Lauren Leamanczyzk from TMJ TV News 4. Several senators told Leamanczyk, that they want to slow down the process of approving the budget bill, while Republicans would like to approve it quickly without an opportunity to debate the bill. The senators who were staying at the Clock Tower have since moved to another undisclosed location, Leamanczyk reported.
Senator Lena C. Taylor (D) on Twitter compared Walker to Hitler for trying to bust unions. The Wisconsin State Patrol tried to track the bus, but failed.
The entire Democrat minority senate caucus went missing from the Senate Chambers before Governor Scott Walker's budget repair bill could be debated and voted on. The 14 Democrats decided to boycott the chamber in order to stop the budget repair bill from moving forward. The bill, if approved would strip state employees union rights to negiotiate for pensions, benefits and working conditions, except wages. The bill strips collective bargaining for unions representing public employees. Those exempt from the bill are unions representing police, firefighters, state police and inspectors who endorsed Walker during his election.
The Republican senate majority of 19 senators failed to reach quorum, which 20 senators are needed (three-fifths majority) to have quorum in order to legally pass Walker's budget bill, according to the state constitution.
The Democrats don't plan to attend Walker's budget repair session on Thursday. The Sergeant of Arms in the Senate has ordered law enforcement officers to look for the Democratic senators and to try to bring in at least one to complete quorum. Officers can try to convince a senator to appear at the session, but have no legal authority to force a senator to make his/her presence at the session.  
Tens of thousands of teachers, state employees and public workers converged at the state capitol in protest of Walker's budget repair bill. Union firefighters joined the protesters and union workers including supporters from other states are expected to arrive over the weekend to support Wisconsin union workers. Wisconsin is considered the epicenter for union rights in America. Senator Spencer Coggs (D) who is in Illinois with other senators says, he is fighting for the people of Wisconsin to have the right to collectively bargain. Wisconsin is where the unions began, according to Coggs.
Some groups are working to recall some of the Republican legislators and have considered recalling Governor Walker. Some of the state legislators could be recall, but Walker won't be eligible for a recall until January 2012.
The Governor's Office claims that at least 8,000 e-mails have been received in support of Walker's
budget repair bill. So far, over 50,000 people have protested in Madison in the last two days. More than 200,000 protesters are expected to converge at the capitol over the weekend and the numbers continue to grow. High school students from throughout the state, including in Milwaukee have march with signs peacefully in support of their teachers right to collectively bargain.
On Friday, the AFL/CIO will lead the protests in Madison. School districts from throughout the state, including in Madison are expected to close as teachers call in sick. On Wednesday, dozens of school districts closed and other schools sent students home after teachers took off work. In the Milwaukee Public School District (MPS), more than 442 teachers called in sick and teacher substitutes took over their classes. By Friday, MPS might end up closing area schools as teachers and workers are expected to join protesters at the capitol.
At least nine protesters have been arrested, according to State Capitol Police. Twelve police agencies have been called in to patrol and monitor the protests that will extend into the weekend.
Some protesters are carrying signs with photos of Mubarak + Hitler = Walker and others with signs saying "Don't Walker On Us." More than 25,000 protesters continue their protest inside and around the state capitol.
Dozens of school districts in Madison and around the state have closed schools for lack of teachers in classrooms. Most teachers called in sick and are in Madison protesting.
In Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Area Technical College approved by 8-1 vote a three year contract with union employees and instructors on Wednesday. The contract effective immediately, will save more than $11.6 million and guarantees no layoffs for full time employees. Unconfirmed allegations revealed that Governor Walker had threaten to replace the entire MATC Board for approving the contract. Walker could not be reached for comment.

MSNBC reporting by Rachel Maddow on Madison protests (Feb. 16, 2011) video at

Related article: Recall For Republican Legislators And Governor Walker Brewing Over Eliminating Union Bargaining Rights For Public Workers

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