WisPolitics Budget Blog: Sen. Fitzgerald said order is similar to an arrest warrant
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said today that the resolution calling for the arrest of the 14 absent Senate Democrats will hopefully bring them back to the floor.
“I’m hopeful by 4 o’clock a Democrat senator or all 14 Democrat senators will be in the chamber and we’ll be allowed to move forward,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald said an Oconto County case brought by a constituent of Sen. Jim Holperin was the impetus for a resolution. The constituent claimed that Holperin’s absence leaves the Senate district without representation.
Fitzgerald said though the case was dismissed, the judge said that the Senate had not exhausted all the remedies available to it to compel the Dems to return.
Fitzgerald said if no Dems arrive by 4 p.m., he will ask the governor to order law enforcement to assist in the apprehension of the senators. While Fitzgerald admitted the senators’ actions aren’t criminal, the state constitution gives the Senate and Assembly the authority to compel members to attend sessions, and the order is “very similar to a warrant.”
“It’s the same as an arrest. It is an arrest,” Fitzgerald said.
The Dems fled to Illinois on Feb. 14 to stop a vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill that seeks to end almost all collective bargaining rights for state employees.
The order to arrest the senators does not cross state lines, but Fitzgerald says he’s confident the Dems have been going back and forth from their homes here to Illinois. He said any individual who spots the senators can call law enforcement to have them apprehended.
Fitzgerald said the move has “nothing to do” with the budget repair bill, but the fact that the governmental process “has been ground to a halt by members of our own body abdicating their responsibility.”
The order will be in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Fitzgerald said.
When the Dems return, Fitzgerald said punishments for the Dems may be considered, including :reprimand, censure or expulsion. “The same things that have been discussed in other legislative bodies through the years for actions that certainly are a violation of both Senate rule and statute and in violation of the constitution.”