Madison, WI, United States (AHN) – Pro-union demonstrators are pledging to continue rallies outside the capitol Thursday after Republican senators, in a controversial move, passed legislation restricting public employees’ collective bargaining rights.
The measure had been stalled for three weeks after Democratic senators left the state to deny the chamber a quorum. However, Republican Senate leaders took advantage of technical rules and stripped the proposal of financial provisions. The amended bill allowed for a smaller quorum, and the bill passed 18-1.
Republican state Sen. Dale Schultz was the lone dissenter. He had earlier offered a compromise that was not acceptable to either side.
“I applaud the Legislature’s action today to stand up to the status quo and take a step in the right direction to balance the budget and reform government,” Gov. Scott Walker said in a statement after the vote. He had pushed for the changes as necessary to offset a $137 million budget deficit.
The Tea Party Express called the passage “a victory not only for the state, but for the nation.”
Opponents were virulent in their criticism of the Republican end run. “Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten,” Democratic Senate leader Mark Miller said in a statement.
State Rep. Peter Barca argued Republicans had violated open meetings laws by calling for the vote without the required 24-hours notice. He said he would refer the action to the attorney general.
The vote was called with only two hours notice.
State Sen. Robert Jauch, one of the Democrats who left the state, charged that “the governor has exposed himself as a fraud.”
A statement from the Wisconsin AFL-CIO called for a rally Thursday “to let Gov. Walker know the fight will continue.”
Activists have already begun recall campaigns against eight Republican senators.
The extensive attention to the legislation brought on by the absence of 14 Democratic senators has adversely affected Walker’s population. Elected with 52 percent of the vote last fall, a Rasmussen poll last week ound only 43 percent of likely votes approved of his job performance.
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