Wisconsin's Democratic State Senators went into hiding three weeks ago in an attempt to prevent Republicans from reducing collective bargaining rights for most public employees. Their protests proved pointless on March 9 as Senate Republicans passed the controversial measure.
The provision that strips most state workers of their collective bargaining rights, which is technically not a monetary item, was removed from Governor Scott Walker's budget proposal. Thus, the quorum requirement to act on the bill was reduced and the 19 Republicans went ahead with the vote, passing it 18-1.
According to media reports, the State Senators who fled to Illinois condemned the move, as Mark Miller (D-Monona) claimed that Republicans "undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin," The New York Times reported.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said it was the Democrats' unprofessional behavior that led to the 19-member vote.
"Don’t let their complete absence fool you; the Senate Democrats forced that vote yesterday," Mr. Fitzgerald said in a statement, quoted by the news provider. "They forced it three weeks ago, when they abandoned their jobs and fled to Illinois for a long-term vacation."
The Wisconsin Assembly, which is led by Republicans and does not have a quorum dilemma, is expected to approve the collective bargaining measure.