Senate Republicans in Wisconsin, refusing to compromise on a proposal to curb collective bargaining, are making the parking spots of their Democratic counterparts their next target.
The Republican-controlled body created a rule yesterday that would strip the parking privileges of senators, or their staff, who are absent without leave for two or more session days. The missing member would also face a daily penalty of $100.
Fourteen Senate Democrats left the state last month to prevent a vote on Governor Scott Walker’s “budget repair bill.” The Assembly, also Republican-led, on Feb. 25 passed the measure, which curbs the collective negotiating rights of government employees and helped spark protests across the U.S.
“This majority is trying to compel those senators to come back and do their job,” Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said at a press briefing in the Capitol in Madison yesterday. The appearance was held to “once again show our unity to demonstrate that we’re all very strong on the governor’s budget- repair bill,” he said.
The penalties may begin as soon as tomorrow for members who remain absent, Fitzgerald said. The rule also enables the Senate majority leader to instruct the chief clerk to empty out a missing member’s office expense account and end paychecks through direct deposit, compelling legislators to retrieve the money in person.
Fitzgerald said he was “disappointed” that the Senate Democrats have continued to stay out of the state. The 33-member body has 19 Republicans.
“The institution of the Wisconsin state Senate is, I think unfortunately, being torn apart by this bill,” he said.
Walker, a Republican, on March 1 proposed $3.4 billion of cuts and savings in his spending plan for the next two years to help close a $3.6 billion deficit.
An e-mail and telephone call requesting comment from the office of Senate Democratic Leader Mark Miller of Monona went unanswered.
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