meanwhile in the fast failing & falling empire
far across the angry seas..
The parliamentary maneuver, first reported by local press, allowed the anti-collective bargaining measure to pass with just Republican support. Under Wisconsin law a 3/5s quorum is needed for a statute that is fiscal in nature. No such quorum is needed for non-fiscal matters.
It was also a 180-degree reversal by Walker and state Senate Republicans, who have insisted for the past three weeks that the collective bargaining provision was designed to help alleviate the state’s budget problems. State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) had previously said he would not attempt to pass any portions of the bill without Democrats present.
Wisconsin Democrats decried the move as an unprecedented and blatant end-run, but it was clear that they were powerless to stop it. Indeed, it took the conference committee only a matter of minutes to pass the severed off measure by a four-to-two vote. Minutes later, the same bill passed through the entire Senate by an 18-1 margin, with Sen. Dale Schultz, a Republican moderate who had proposed a compromise measure, lodging the only no vote.
Justin Sargent, a staffer to Senator Chris Larson (D-Wis.) called the maneuver completely unexpected. It showed, he added, that this “obviously wasn’t about any kind of financing, it was an attack on working families.”
Sargent would not say whether his boss was en route back from Illinois but noted, rightly, that he wouldn’t make it back in time to even lodge an on-the-floor protest. Instead, Larson offered a simple tweet: "Shame."
The new procedural maneuver requires that bill now be sent back to the State Assembly for consideration since that body has passed only the full (not the severed) budget bill. According to Mary Spicuzza of the Wall Street Journal the Assembly will reportedly take up the measure tomorrow.
UPDATE, 7:12 p.m.: University of Madison-Wisconsin student journalist Talya Minsberg, who is at the Capitol, told The Huffington Post that there are vastly more people stuck outside than inside due to "airport-style" security measures. Those outside crowded around a window near where the vote was taking place, to shout and protest Republican lawmakers: "You lied! You lied! You lied to Wisconsin!" went one chant. "Shame!" went another.
UPDATE, 7:46: The Weekly Standard's John McCormack has more details on what was in the actual bill that passed.
The legislation being voted on tonight has few changes from the bill as initially proposed. It would save just $30 million less than the original budget bill by stripping out a refinancing provision. But it would still save the state $300 million over the next two years by requiring state employees to contribute about 5% of income toward their pensions and by requiring state workers to pay for about 12% of their health insurance premiums. It would also save $1.44 billion by requiring public employees in school districts and municipalities to pay 5% of their salaries toward their pensions and by removing collective bargaining for benefits, thus giving school districts and municipalities the option of requiring their employees to pay about 12% for their health insurance premiums.