Madness in Madison – That Just Happened.

By YeOldeScribe ~ March 10th, 2011 @ 12:56 am

Wow. I had a post all lined up and ready to go congratulating Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker after it was announced that he was actually making concessions to Democrats in regards to his Budget Repair Bill. I think I’ll share that post tomorrow, but given the events going on in Madison right now, such a post didn’t seem appropriate.

For those of you who haven’t caught the news yet, Senate Republicans essentially passed the Budget Repair Bill. Kind of.

Here’s the 30-second version of what’s going down right now. Senate Democrats fled the state to stop the budget bill from being considered, because in order for any measure that has fiscal components to it, a quorum (20 senators) needs to be present, and the Republicans only have 19 members. This essentially brought the bill to a stand-still, because Republicans refused to negotiate, and Democrats refused to return home. However, today Republicans formed a “Special Conference Committee” which included members of both parties (no Senate Democrats attended though, since they’re kind of not here and all). In the Special Conference Committee, it was announced that the fiscal aspects of the Budget Repair Bill were being removed (don’t think about that one for too long) so that the quorum rules “would not be triggered”.

If you can stomach watching democracy crumble before your eyes, here’s the uncut video of that Special Conference Committee:

Joint Committee of Conference in Wisconsin on Budget Repair Bill

I literally can’t believe that’s real. There’s some part of me that keeps thinking this whole thing is just a bad dream, and that I’ll wake up and I won’t be governed by crazy people who have no respect for the law when they don’t agree with it. I can’t believe some of the things I saw when I watched that video:

* The Senators were voting on a bill that they didn’t have in front of them, and that they didn’t even know what was in it

* The Chairman said “No Amendments”, something he legally can’t do

* The meeting itself was illegal, and when this was brought to the chairman’s attention, instead of recognizing the point, he called for a vote on the bill – after 2 minutes of discussion

* Everyone else left the room as Rep. Barca plead his case on why they had to come back and listen to him

This was the first step in the downfall of democracy in Wisconsin. I understand that protesters may have been throwing that lingo around for a while now, but this is solid proof that the Republicans are not only acting without regard to morals or decency, they’re acting illegally. Barca points out that the Attorney General (who is even Republican) says that the meeting is illegal, and therefore anything discussed or decided at the meeting is illegal. And the Republicans vote anyway, and walk out. I have never before witnessed with my own eyes such an egregious abuse of governmental power, and I hope I never have to again.

From there, the bill headed to the Senate, where it was immediately passed. Seriously, from the time roll call was taken to the time the bill passed on an 18-1 vote, less than one minute passed. One Minute! That means the bill wasn’t read, it wasn’t discussed, it was barely introduced when the vote was taken. It normally takes longer than one minute just to vote! (At this time, would like to recognize the awesomeness of Sen. Dale Schultz. Schultz was the lone Republican to vote against the bill. Kudos, Dale. You’re a true progressive for standing up for democracy and worker’s rights. We’ll write more about you and Rep. Barca soon.) The bill didn’t get to the assembly in time, so that vote is scheduled for tomorrow morning.

Once you get past the obvious abuse of governmental power and complete disregard of law the Republicans have displayed, our biggest issue with the bill is that it shows what the Republicans were trying to do all along: break up the unions. Keep in mind that the “Budget Repair Bill” now includes no language or even references to government finances. Literally, the Budget Repair Bill has nothing to do with the budget itself. It may not have been true before, but now it is – and Republicans are proud of it! has said from the beginning that both sides to the budget debate in Wisconsin have their points, and each have their faults. But this time, Republicans and Walker have gone too far. After today’s events, we can’t take anything they say as honest or true. We can’t believe them. We can’t argue that they’re even close to in the right. We can’t even say that what they’re doing is even legal. now joins in the chorus of protesters at the capitol yelling “SHAME!”

Here’s some of our favorite quotes from the evening:

* “It was not about balancing the budget, because tonight was the non-fiscal part… in the budget repair bill. The budget repair bill should have been the fiscal. But what they did instead was eliminate 50 years of worker’s rights in the dark of the night.” – State Sen. Dave Hansen (D)

* “Every single Republican has lied to the taxpayers of the state of Wisconsin. And… they said that this was not about busting public unions, but it clearly is.” – Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D)

* It’s a charade. It’s a mockery of our Democratic process, and… it amounts to nothing more than a public hanging of public employees on the capitol square.” Sen. Bob Jauch (D)

* “In 30 minutes, 18 state senators have undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin. Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten. Tonight, 18 senate Republicans conspired to take government away from the people. We will join the people of Wisconsin in taking back their government.” Sen. Minority Leader Mark Miller (D)

* “Tonight’s trampling of the Democratic process in Wisconsin shows that Scott Walker and the Republicans have been lying throughout this entire process, and that we have been telling the truth – that none of the provisions that attacked worker’s rights had anything to do with balancing the budget… Scott Walker and the GOP have eviscerated both the letter and the spirit of the law and our democratic process to ram through their payback to their deep-pocketed friends.”” AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt

* “The gig is now up. The fraud on the people of Wisconsin is now very clear. They are now going to pass a bill to take away people’s rights” Rep. Peter Barca (D)

We apologize for making only one post tonight, but in order to report the story effectively and to the best of our abilities, we did a lot of research tonight instead. Look for more posts tomorrow covering some of the issues we didn’t get to tonight. Also, right now the plan is for to blog live from the capitol this Sunday as we take part in the protests over Gov. Walker’s budget reform bill.

We’ll continue to update you on this situation as it develops. Until then, stay informed, and say progressive everyone – even if Wisconsin, the birthplace of progressivism, no longer is.

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