Patti Wenzel

Senate Republicans to rescind contempt charges

By - Mar 15th, 2011 01:55 pm
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Senate Republicans in the chamber.

Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Senate President Mike Ellis announced that all sanctions and contempt charges will be lifted against the 14 Democratic senators.

Last night, Fitzgerald had announced the Democrats would be allowed to take part in committees meetings, offer comments and forward amendments but their votes would not be recognized or tabulated. Such a stance made many of the 14 wonder what Fitzgerald was expecting of them before he would allow them to exercise their elected duties.

In a hastily-called press conference at 1:30 p.m. the Senate leaders said they would no longer expect the Democrats to be at a roll call of the full senate before being allowed to fully take part in the committee work. The Senate is not scheduled to have a full roll call until April 5. However, committee work will commence sometime next week on Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget proposal.

“I have assurances from some of the Democrats that they will be in the chamber to debate the budget,” Fitzgerald said. “And I won’t prevent them from voting in the committees.”

Ellis added that he will not enforce the fines levied on the Democratic 14 for not appearing in the chambers over the last three weeks and he will no longer hold them in contempt.

“We have serious problems facing the state and this is our good faith effort to get on with the business of the state,” Ellis said. “We need civility and decorum to move the peoples agenda ahead.”

He even alluded to Japan and the efforts there to cool the nuclear rods. “We need to cool off a few rods here.”

When asked if the Senate will be taking up any of the items removed from Walker’s budget repair bill, such as the re-bonding effort to save $165 million in payments, Fitzgerald said that was being worked on by the governor and the Department of Administration.

“The Governor thinks we can still salvage that,” he added.

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