The Wisconsin State Senate passed a “budget repair bill” last night that basically strips public unions of their collective bargaining rights. Eric Kleefield of TPM reports:
The special conference committee in Wisconsin — convened in order to strip out the fiscal elements of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill, in order to pass the anti-public employee union proposals and avoid the state SenateDemocratic boycott of the three-fifths budget quorum — just met for roughly five minutes and passed the bill.
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D) attempted to make a motion to delay the meeting or make amendments — and was not recognized for a motion by the chair, state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. Barca argued, over Fitzgerald’s attempts to say there would be no motions, that the conference committee violated the state’s open meetings law, which requires at least 24 hours notice before a government meeting, unless there is good cause to act more quickly.
The bill then passed in committee on a 4-2, party-line margin — and in a surreal sight, the online feed of the state equivalent of C-Span, Wisconsin Eye, faded out to tranquil music as the video was playing the shouting and ire of the meeting itself.
Rachel Maddow has the rather interesting video of the meeting.
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Just to catch you up, Gov. Scott Walker originally proposed getting rid of collective bargaining for public sector unions because it was a financial burden for the state. To no one’s surprise, that was bullshit; he just wanted to bust the unions, and stripping out all the fiscal elements of the bill proves it. State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald told Fox News that the whole point was to destroy the unions’ political power:
If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.
The response to this by the unions and Democrats is going to be both swift and loud. There are already calls going out for rallies today in Madison, and there are sure to be a number of people both within the legislature and without who will go to court to file a lawsuit against the bill.
It will be interesting to see how the GOP will explain the tactics. After all, they were the ones who carried on like banshees last year when the Democrats toyed with the idea of passing the healthcare bill with a variety of parliamentary tricks. In the end, they went the standard route: a vote of the majority in both houses of Congress passed the bill without invoking the “deem and pass” or “nuclear option,” and to this day the Republicans still claim the bill was “rammed down their throats.” Ha. It seems the Wisconsin Republicans could teach them a thing or two about ramming things.