Not content to deny state, county and municipal employees and teachers a voice in the workplace -- with legislation that takes away collective bargaining rights -- Wisconsin Republicans have now moved to deny Democratic legislators the right to vote on legislation as it is being considered by state Senate committees.
For the better part of a month, fourteen Democratic state senators denied Republicans the quorum they sought to pass Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's anti-labor legislation -- and, in so doing, provided the time for the development of a mass movement that last Saturday drew more than 100,000 union supporters to the Capitol. The Democratic senators have returned and the legislation has passed.
But Republican poll numbers have collapsed. And they are furious.
Walker and his legislative consigliere, state Senator Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, have now moved to deny the dissenting Democrats the right to participate in the legislative process.
On Monday afternoon, Fitzgerald, who has publicly admitted that he and other Republicans advanced the anti-labor legislation in order to strengthen the position of the GOP in 2012 elections, sent a letter to senators that read: "Dear Members: With the return of the Senate Democrats this weekend, questions have arisen regarding Democrat members' participation in Senate standing committee public hearings and executive sessions. Please note that all 14 Democrat senators are still in contempt of the Senate. Therefore, when taking roll call votes on amendments and bills during executive sessions, Senate Democrats' votes will not be reflected in the Records of Committee Proceedings or the Senate Journal. They are free to attend hearings, listen to testimony, debate legislation, introduce amendments, and cast votes to signal their support/opposition, but those votes will not count, and will not be recorded."