New Rules in "Walker's Wisconsin"

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  4. 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.

Rep. Nick Milroy relocated his desk to the Capitol lawnAssembly 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.

Open for businessVisibly 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.

Mary Bottari

Mary Bottari is a reporter for the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). She helped launch CMD's award-winning ALEC Exposed investigation and is a two-time recipient of the Sidney Prize for public interest journalism from the Sidney Hillman Foundation.


If the Egyptian people can bring down a dictator after 30 years of police state rule, why can’t state employee unions bring down this Governor or at least start a Governor recall effort. This is the United States of America, re-learn how to do it yourself. Poll: Americans favor union bargaining rights, By Judy Keen and Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAYUpdated 2/23/2011 2:00:45 PM, MADISON, Wis. — Americans strongly oppose laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. The poll found 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law.