It shouldn’t be too long before the Wisconsin legislature finishes off a bill to strip collective bargaining rights from public employees. The State Assembly gaveled into session at 12:34pm CT.
Peter Barca, the Assembly Minority Leader and the one who could be seen shouting about the illegality of last night’s conference committee, just offered a motion to remove Jeff Fitzgerald as Speaker. So this is getting off to a rowdy start.
Barca said Fitzgerald has “impaired judgement” and that “last night he violated the law” by not upholding the state’s open meetings law.
Barca offered a litany of other reasons. He said Fitzgerald has told him that debate on the bill will be limited to two hours, which is says is anti-democratic. He said Fitzgerald is not acting to enforce the court order that the building be open to the public, and cited that some members of the Assembly and the press were kept from accessing the chamber.
“The speaker should control that. He’s our constitutional office. But the speaker’s judgement is impaired,” Barca said.
There are enough protesters in the Capitol for the sound of the chanting to be heard on the Assembly floor.
Meanwhile, in a curious move, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau produced a new analysis of the bill, changed from the previous night, which includes more elements of the original budget repair bill. Nobody could produce a copy of the actual legislation in time for the conference committee session yesterday, leading to speculation that it was being written while the session was going on. The Director of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Bob Lang, said that these omissions were just oversights, and the bill language remained the same throughout. Mm-hm.
If you read the LFB correction, you’ll see that the sale of state-owned heating, cooling and power plants has returned to the bill.
There are two items in the LFB’s March 10 document that are not reflected in the March 9 document.
1. The March 10 document includes a provision of the substitute amendment on the Earned Income Tax Credit (page 3, #1).
2. The March 10 document includes a provision of the substitute amendment on the Sale and Contractual Operation of State-Owned Power Plants (page 20, #1).
So now changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit is considered a “non-fiscal item.” Got it. Keep in mind that in a press conference today, Scott Walker basically said that yes, stripping collective bargaining has a fiscal impact, but no, it doesn’t conflict with quorum laws, so go pound sand. The lawyers are going to have a field day with this bill, I predict.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats, recognizing they can do little more on this bill from Illinois, are returning to Madison. They may get there in time for a large rally planned today at 5:00pm CT.
We’ll be monitoring, but the legislative aspect of this is a fait accompli. The judicial and electoral aspects? That’s another matter. And don’t forget the possibility of a general strike.