Wisconsin troopers find lawmakers not home

Feb. 24, 2011 at 2:52 PM
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MADISON, Wis., Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Wisconsin state troopers went to the homes of several absent Senate Democrats Thursday but found no missing lawmakers home, officials said.

The state police were searching for some of the 14 Democrats who left the state last week rather than provide a quorum that would allow Senate Republicans to pass a budget repair bill that would strip members of public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights.

The troopers knocked on doors and left after finding no one at home, state Senate Sergeant at Arms Ted Blazel told WISC-TV, Madison.

"The troopers aren't going to arrest anybody," state Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "The Senate Democrats need to come to work to do their jobs."

The troopers were sent to the missing members' homes Thursday morning as the state Assembly struck a deal with lower house Democrats that could end debate on Gov. Scott Walker's budget bill.

Walker has said he will not compromise on the bargaining-rights issue.

Assembly leaders said an agreement was reached in which Democrats objecting to Walker's plan to sharply restrict public employee bargaining rights would limit remaining debate to 38 amendments, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Democrats also agreed to limit debate on each amendment to 10 minutes.

So far, the Republican-led Assembly debated 100 Democratic amendments, with the GOP majority turning aside every one, the newspaper said.

Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenach, who has been in Illinois for eight days, told WISC Democrats would not be returning to Wisconsin Thursday. "It's a complete waste of resources. We are all not home," he said.

Meanwhile, the school board in Hustisford approved sending preliminary layoff notices to 34 teachers' union members and five staffers, including the wife of Republican Senate leader Fitzgerald, the Journal Sentinel reported.

The notices warn the school employees could be laid off during the current school year.

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