Wis. GOPers Restore Voting Rights To Senate Dems, Lift Fines

The Wisconsin state Senate Republicans backed away Tuesday afternoon from a controversial sanction they handed down against state Senate Democrats, who had fled the state in an attempt to block passage of Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-public employee union proposals. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Senate President Mike Ellis will not enforce the contempt declaration handed down against the Dems — which, as Fitzgerald said Monday, stripped the Dems of the right to vote in committee proceedings.

In addition, Republicans will not enforce the fines, of $100 for each additional missed session day, that they handed down late during the Dems’ absence,

“The name of the game is moving this state forward, putting this stuff behind us,” Ellis said. “Let’s get on with the people’s business. Let’s stop all the bickering.”Earlier Tuesday, Fitzgerald told the paper that the contempt ruling, which was handed down because the Dems wouldn’t return to the session of the full chamber, would stand until the Dems were present for a roll call in the chamber — which is expected to take place later this spring for Walker’s budget.

However, Fitzgerald said he has received assurances from the Dems that they will participate in those future sessions.

Also, as WisPolitics reported earlier, the Senate Organization committee passed a rule rescinding some key punishments it had handed down against the Dems during the standoff, targeting the Dems’ staffers: Limiting the staffers’ access to copy machines, having the Republican majority leader approve the staffers’ time sheets, and placing the staffers under the supervision of GOP senators.

However, the approval was passed 3-0 — three Republican, and no Democrats — as at that juncture there were still no Dem votes on committees.