Republicans in the state Senate ordered Democrats on Thursday to return to the chamber by 4 p.m. or be found in contempt of the Senate – a move that means Democrats could be taken into custody.
“We simply cannot have democracy be held hostage because the minority wants to prove a point,” said Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau).
Senate Democrats have been out of the state since Feb. 17 to prevent passage of GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill, which would eliminate most collective bargaining for public employee unions. At least 20 senators must be present to pass the bill, but Republicans hold just 19 seats.
The Senate adopted the resolution to find Democrats in contempt on a 19-0 vote. It says they are violating a Senate rule that requires senators to receive a leave of absence before being absent for a day.
Fitzgerald said that Republicans were initially “nervous” about taking such a step but that Democrats have created a “constitutional crisis.”
“This is not about a budget-repair bill or about politics,” Fitzgerald said. “This is much bigger than that and the minority party has forced our hand . . . They’re insulting the very fabric of our representative democracy.”
- Senate GOP Puts The Hammer Down (theundergroundconservative.wordpress.com)
- Senate calls for the 14 Democrats to be taken into custody (apostleislands.wordpress.com)