MADISON, Wis., March 9 (UPI) -- Protests intensified in Madison, Wis., Wednesday after the state Senate used a parliamentary move to pass a collective bargaining bill with no Democrats voting.
The vote was 18-1, with one Republican senator voting against the measure to strip most collective bargaining rights from public employees.
State Senate Republicans voted earlier Wednesday to send Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill to a joint Senate-Assembly conference committee that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said had been formed only hours before the vote. The vote came over protests by Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca that it was being conducted in violation of a state law requiring most government bodies to provide 24 hours notice before meeting, the newspaper said.
Barca was still arguing his case when Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald polled the members and then ordered the meeting adjourned. Senate Republicans then approved the bill amid cries of "Shame on you!" by protesters in the gallery.
The Assembly is scheduled to vote on the bill at 11 a.m. CST Thursday.
Walker, in a statement, said he applauded "the Legislature's action today to stand up to the status quo and take a step in the right direction to balance the budget and reform government."
"The Senate Democrats have had three weeks to debate this bill and were offered repeated opportunities to come home, which they refused," Walker said.
Shortly after news of the Senate vote, protesters in Madison tried to get into the Capitol, pounding on doors as security guards struggled to keep them out. As protesters chanted "Let us in!," "Shame!," "This is not democracy!" and "You lied to Wisconsin!"
Video aired on MSNBC showed a few people climbing through a window to gain entry to the building.
Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller told the Journal Sentinel Republicans will face court challenges and recalls over the vote.
"The people I don't think knew what they were getting when they voted last November, so there will be a do-over" he said.
The Wisconsin State Journal said it was not immediately apparent how the Senate was able to move the bill forward. The Wisconsin Senate had been unable to take action on the budget bill since all 14 Democratic members left the state Feb. 17, depriving the Senate of a necessary quorum.
GOP leaders had held out the possibility that removing fiscal considerations from Walker's bill would enable the Senate to vote on collective bargaining legislation without the Democrats, the Journal reported. Walker and Fitzgerald have maintained collective bargaining issues could not be separated from the budget bill.
Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach said Wednesday's maneuver shows Republicans "have been lying. Their goal is to bust up the unions." Democratic state Sen. Bob Jauch called the development "almost barbaric."
"There's going to be a public hanging of public employee unions at the Capitol tomorrow if it comes out as I expect," Jauch said.
State Senate Republicans voted Wednesday to fine the 14 absent Democrats $100 apiece for missing the session. The Republicans held the vote before going into a closed meeting on the bill, the Journal Sentinel reported.
The vote was 18-0, with all Democrats and one Republican absent.
Under a resolution adopted last week, fines may be imposed on members who miss two consecutive sessions without an excused absence. Fitzgerald said Democrats would face another $100 fine if they are still out Thursday.
Walker Tuesday had offered to concede some union rights to end the standoff, e-mails indicated. Walker's office released the e-mails following public-records requests from news organizations and said the e-mails showed the governor was willing to negotiate.
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