Wis. Capitol Tense As Assembly Delays Vote On Anti-Union Bill

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March 10, 2011 8:27 a.m.

A bill may have passed the senate, but the standoff continues in Wisconsin, where the state Capitol building in Madison was on lockdown Thursday morning — preventing the entrance of not only protesters, but also staff, members of the media, and even elected legislators. As the Wisconsin State Journal reports, the building has now opened, with people entering being screened for weapons.

WisPolitics reports that as a result of the earlier capitol closure, the Assembly has delayed its scheduled 11 a.m. CT session to vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s bill rolling back public employee union rights. “Capitol Police has advised us to delay the Assembly session until the building can be properly secured,” said a statement from Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R). “Assembly Republicans still intend to make a vote and pass the Conference Committee on Special Session AB11 today.”

The Assembly is set to begin again soon. (Late Update: As of this writing, 1:35 p.m. ET, the Assembly is holding a roll call as it comes to order.)

Earlier, as WisPolitics reported, the lockdown of the Assembly chamber even prevented Democratic members, who were pounding on the doors, from getting in.

That led to this exchange:

Assistant Minority Leader Donna Seidel, D-Wausau, yelled at Rep. Joel Kleefisch that Dems demanded access to the chamber.

Kleefisch turned and responded, “The Democrats in the Senate should have showed up then.”

The response prompted more shouts from Dems.

Joel Kleefisch is the husband of Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.Earlier Thursday , protesters who had blocked access to the assembly chamber were physically dragged out but not arrested.

As Dave Weigel points out, a threatening e-mail was sent to most of the Republican state Senate caucus, promising the targeted assassinations of the 18 senators who voted for the bill, sparing the one GOP moderate (Dale Schultz) who voted against it. This has doubtlessly not helped the situation.

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