The Senate passed a resolution Wednesday morning containing a host of provisions that would effectively punish the 14 missing democratic senators, a move critics said would further split the two parties.
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, drafted the resolution which included fining absent senators and requiring them to reimburse all expenses incurred from attempts at retrieving the senators.
A senator who is absent without leave for two or more session days is subject to a penalty equal to $100 for each day the senator is absent. Along with the daily fee, the resolution requires absentees to reimburse costs incurred in the process of searching for the senators, according to the language of the resolution.
“As Gov. Walker has been saying for weeks, there are 1,500 real jobs hanging in the balance because of the Senate Democrats. The deadline passed today for more than $100 million in missed refinancing,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “And if collective bargaining reform doesn’t pass, Senate Democrats will be responsible for thousands of additional job cuts at the local level.”
The chief senate clerk would assume responsibility for calculating the actual cost of retrieving the senators, as well as extra costs stemming from extra measures Fitzgerald deems necessary.
Other measures in the resolution included ending the practice of paycheck direct deposit. Instead, paychecks would be given to Fitzgerald and missing senators would have to pick up their pay from him face to face.
The resolution authorizes the sergeant at arms to revoke parking privileges allocated to an absent member and the member’s staff.
Fitzgerald also circulated a ballot Wednesday that would reassign the staff of the missing 14 Democratic senators and place them under the supervision of Senate Republicans.
These actions effectively contribute to elongate the gap between the two political parties, said Common Cause Wisconsin Director Jay Heck.
Heck said the partisan politics being used by the senators is reminiscent of schoolyard bullies. He said the majority’s tactics are not in the public’s best interest.
Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, said he thought the new resolution was tactless.
“It seems to me that the majority party has better things to do than to think of ways to harass the minority party,” Risser said. “It’s beneath the dignity of the State Legislature to get involved in such petty harassment.”