Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wisconsin Republicans Try End Around Play To Roll Back Collective Bargaining Rights For Public Employees

Their play may be more "hail mary" than "end around," but either way, if it works, they'll be slapping themselves on the back for months, even years.

From the Seattle Times -
Wisconsin Senate Republicans used a surprise legislative maneuver to pass a bill that would strip collective-bargaining rights from most public-sector workers — a move accomplished without the 14 Democratic senators who had fled the state to stall the measure.

Republicans voted 18-1 Wednesday night to pass nonfiscal provisions of the budget-repair bill — including those that would eliminate or severely limit collective-bargaining rights for most public employees.

Republicans control the Senate but had been blocked from voting on the issue after Democrats left the state Feb. 17 to prevent a quorum. Instead, Republicans used a procedural maneuver to force the collective-bargaining measure through: They removed elements of Gov. Scott Walker's bill that technically were related to appropriating funds, thus removing a requirement that 20 senators be present for a vote.
The move seems to be patently illegal (caveat: I'm not a lawyer, and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night :) ).  They went to a conference committee on a bill that hadn't even been considered yet, used that committee to split the original bill, and then reported the new bill back to the WI Senate for a vote.  Additionally, they violated all sorts of public notice laws during the entire process.

However, cynic that I am, I'm not sure this isn't just strategy.

If they can use this to entice the Wisconsin 14 to reenter the state, then they could pass the original measure legally, and just ignore the illegal version, avoiding a public slapping down by a court of law.


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