Archive | Wisconsin Union Dispute

Wisconsin Capitol Police Delay Opening of Capitol

From Wisconsin Dept. of Administration (tip to Wheeler Report):

Thursday, March 10, 2011
Capitol opening delayed Thursday
Capitol opening delayed Thursday
The Wisconsin State Capitol did not open at 8 a.m. Thursday morning due to events the previous night when thousands of people entered the building after the Capitol was to have been closed for the evening and more than 200 people remained overnight.

The Capitol will not open until a law enforcement assessment of the building and today’s security requirements have been completed.

– Capitol Police

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Wis. Senate Clerk: Only Notice Required for Committee Meeting Was Posting on Bulletin Board

Questions have been raised whether the 2-hour notice given of the Wisconsin Senate committee meeting was adequate. Rob Marchant, the Clerk of the Senate issued this statement (tip to Wheeler Report):

There was some discussion today about the notice provided for the legislature’s conference committee. In special session, under Senate Rule 93, no advance notice is required other than posting on the legislative bulletin board. Despite this rule, it was decided to provide a 2 hour notice by posting on the bulletin board. My staff, as a courtesy, emailed a copy of the notice to all legislative offices at 4:10, which gave the impression that the notice may have been slightly less than 2 hours. Either way, the notice appears to have satisfied the requirements of the rules and statutes.

Since the Clerk is relying on Senate Rule 93, it’s worth a look. The provision is a special rule for special sessions, which tend to be more focused in topics and more time pressured in duration. Rule 93 in part provides:

Senate Rule 93 (2)
(2) A notice of a committee meeting is not required other than posting on the legislative bulletin board, and a bulletin of committee hearings may not be published.

Senate Rule 93 (3)
(3) The daily calendar is in effect immediately upon posting on the legislative bulletin boards. The calendar need not be distributed.

Senate Rule 93 (4)
(4) Any point of order shall be decided within one hour.

On its face, this rule would seem not to require even a 2-hour notice, just posting on the bulletin board, which is how the Clerk interprets it. This is consistent with the emphasis on speed implicit in several parts of Rule 93. Yet it is possible one could instead read the rule as merely covering the method […]

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Wisconsin Substitute Bill is Only 6 Pages Shorter

The 138-page substitute for Wisconsin Senate Bill 11 is only 6 pages shorter than the 144-page original Bill 11.

The senators seem to have left in everything that was not clearly fiscal. They even left in several sections near the end that (unwisely, IMO) still have “Fiscal” headings, though they contain no taxes or increases in appropriations, e.g.:

SECTION 9221. Fiscal changes; Health Services.

SECTION 9227. Fiscal changes; Joint Committee on Finance.

SECTION 9230. Fiscal changes; Legislature.

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Wisconsin Senate Splits and Passes Most of the Budget Bill

The Wisconsin Senate has passed a budget bill with the “non-fiscal” provisions stripped out, just as I proposed last week in a manuscript on SSRN, a post at Volokh (“Wisconsin Senate Does Not Need a 3/5ths Quorum to Pass Much of the Budget Bill”), and an op-ed at National Review Online. Those curious about the legalities of the definition of “fiscal” should download my paper at SSRN.

A source in the legislature informed me last week that this approach had been proposed early on, but had been rejected as too politically risky for Republicans friendly to labor and too procedurally hard to go through both houses again, given the rancor in the assembly. From what I’ve heard from several sources (including one journalist), I’m fairly certain that it was NOT under active consideration when I floated my proposal last week.

I haven’t been able to find a copy on the bill online yet, but it appears that the senators took a fairly aggressive line in determining what was fiscal, treating even provisions that have financial impact as not fiscal. For example, the Bill passed by the Senate is reported to contain the requirement that contracts require public workers to pay at least 12%. In this, as my op-ed and article showed, they are being consistent with the very narrow definition of fiscal in the Wisconsin Constitution and the Joint Rules of the legislature.

Here is the conclusion of my SSRN paper, Super Quorums Under the Wisconsin Constitution:

Article VII, §8 of the Wisconsin Constitution requires a three-fifths quorum only for statutes that are fiscal, that is, statutes that actually appropriate money, impose taxes, create a debt, or release a claim owed to the state. Even then, these categories have consistently been interpreted in the

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