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Tuesday, 15 March 2011
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Well Played Sir

Tim Cullen, one of the 14 Democrats who fled the state to avoid voting on the Budget Repair Bill has put forward a new Constitutional Amendment:

A Democratic state senator wants to make it impossible for senators in the future to block legislative action by leaving the state.
...
Cullen said his proposal for a constitutional amendment would simply eliminate the requirement currently in the state constitution that three-fifths of state senators be present for the body to vote on certain fiscal bills, including those that contain spending items.

This is a brilliant tactical move. It's a way of publicly saying "We're sorry, and we promise we'll never do it again" while at the same time forcing the hands of Republicans. As we all know, both Republicans and Democrats love to use procedural gimmicks. Just look at the Filabuster in the United States Senate. When Republicans are in charge, and Democrats use it, then Republicans complain about how the Democrats are stopping the will of the majority. But when the shoe is on the other foot, then the roles exactly reverse and Republicans talk about the proud history of the Filabuster.

Of course, Wisconsin has no concept of the Filabuster. But Democrats invented a new one... the quorum call. I'm sure some Republicans were thinking to themselves... "Why didn't I think of that?!" And now that the Democrats opened the can of worms... they're scared to death that in the future when they have the Senate majority back, it might be used against them.

But, by putting forward this amendment now, Democrats are putting the Republicans in a pretty tough position. If they vote for the Amendment, then they are letting the Democrats be the only ones to play with a shiny new toy. But if Republicans don't vote for this, then they have no credibility when they complain about how the Democrats fled the state before.

# Posted at 14:00 by Nick  |  Comment Feed Link 2 Comments  |  No Trackbacks

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Tuesday, 15 March 2011 15:13:45 (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)
Agree with your analysis. Of course, if he actually thought it was wrong he wouldn't have done it...legal or not.

As an aside, the reason there's a quorum requirement in the first place is to prohibit a minority from meeting and passing legislation with a majority of the minority. I'd be concerned about how the proposed amendment would address that possibility.
Tuesday, 15 March 2011 15:16:04 (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)
From what I read, the Quorum Requirement would not be removed completely, it would just be replaced with a 50% requirement similar to that of non-spending bills (instead of the current 3/5th's requirement).
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