Wisconsin Senate passes budget repair bill

The Wisconsin Assembly will take up the bill tomorrow morning. It should be interesting; on-the-scene reports suggest that the union protesters may be planning a riot.

Senate Republican accomplished the action by amending the bill to remove items that required a three-fifths quorum. Governor Walker had already rejected passing the collective bargaining provision by itself, but a ruling from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (Wisconsin’s CBO) enabled them to pass the bill largely intact. The Bureau found that several items in the bill, although fiscal, were not “appropriations”, and therefore did not trigger the larger quorum. The main provision that had to be deleted was a debt refinancing, which presumably will later be passed alone (unless the Democrats decide to play sore loser).

UPDATE: The Democrats have already begun to complain that the action violated Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Law. Republicans apparently believe that an exception in the law allows them to give only two hours notice, rather than 24. I’m sure we’ll hear more about this.

UPDATE: Wisconsin’s Senate Majority Leader explains why they decided to resort to this.

UPDATE: Jim Lindgren has more on the legislative maneuver.

UPDATE: It doesn’t look as though the Open Meetings Law thing is going to fly. The Wisconsin Senate Rules state that the 24-hours notice can be set aside whenever the Committee on Senate Organization determines it is necessary. Another rule might say (it isn’t clear)¬†that even 2-hours notice isn’t necessary, but the Republicans wisely decided not to rely on that. Moreover, the Open Meetings Law contains an exception for when it conflicts with Senate rules. So I think they are in the clear.

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