Republican Senate Leader Cracks the Whip on Missing Democrats, While Dem. Assembly Reps. Set Up Offices on the Capitol Lawn
As the Wisconsin Senate remained in almost complete lockdown today, Wisconsin Republican leadership turned up the heat on the missing Wisconsin democratic legislators with an unprecedented series of new rules.
- Make Them Pay: According to Senate Resolution 3 which was passed 18-0 this afternoon, "a senator who is absent without leave from two or more session days is subject to a penalty equal to $100 for each day that the senator is absent without leave. In addition, the senator must reimburse the senate for the actual costs incurred to compel his or her attendance.... If a senator who owes the penalties and costs has not paid the penalties and costs in full within 30 days after the resolution is adopted, the chief clerk will withhold from any payments due to the senator for per diem, travel expenses, or other matters, not including salary, the amount of any unpaid penalties and costs." Lawyers point out that the $100 fine is likely unconstitutional under Wisconsin law.
- Unleash Dad: "The resolution also allows the sergeant at arms to request the assistance of any law enforcement officer in this state to find and return any senator who is absent without leave." The Wisconsin State Patrol is headed by recently appointed, Stephen Fitzgerald, father to both the Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald and state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald. Nothing like a cushy public sector job with great benefits for dad.
- Assign Overlords: Another proposed resolution (Ballot 11-033 Policy Change Relating to Senators Absent Without Leave) would give Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald the right to "assign supervision over any employee appointed by a Senator who is absent without leave for 2 or more session days."
This motion proposes:
[t]he following members are assigned to supervise the employees appointed by senators who are absent without leave:
Sen. Cowles is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Hansen
Sen. Darling is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Erpenbach
Sen. Fitzgerald is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Miller
Sen. Galloway is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Jauch
Sen. Harsdorf is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Lassa
Sen. Hopper is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Taylor
Sen. Kapanke is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Vinehout
Sen. Kedzie is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Larson
Sen. Leibham is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Carpenter
Sen. Moulton is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Holperin
Sen. Olsen is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Coggs
Sen. Schultz is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Risser
Sen. Wanggaard is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Wirch
Sen. Zipperer is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Cullen
- Petty Politics: These measures follow earlier efforts to force absent legislators back to the state including a rule adopted last week stating that absent senators can no longer receive their paychecks via direct deposit but must pick them up in person on the Senate floor during a session, and a resolution aimed at staffers, which rolled back access codes to the copy machines in the statehouse.
Assembly Dems Meet Constituents on Capitol Lawn
A hearing on the merits of the Temporary Restraining Order issued by the court Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. to open the capitol went all day today in the Dane County Courthouse. In the meantime, Assembly Democratic Reps. couldn’t get their work done in a capitol in a virtual lockdown, so they took their desks out on the lawn for office hours. Reps. Clark, Mason, Barca and Milroy are open for business and constituent services on a muddy capitol lawn.
Democratic Rep. Nick Milroy spoke with constituents standing in the freezing cold -- the Wednesday low for Madison was -6 degrees Fahrenheit -- not including windchill. Milroy relocated his desk, complete with family pictures and trinkets.
Visibly shivering, Rep. Clark spoke briefly to CMD on the new rules, including the appointment of Republican State Senators as "supervisors" of Democratic State Senators' staffs. "They're all just stupid little ways to harass them," he said, referring to the Senate bills targeting the Democratic 14, who remain out of state.
The court is anticipated to rule again tomorrow on opening the capitol. In the meantime the original court order is in effect and many lawmakers consider the Governor in contempt of court.