Republicans only passed Wisconsin bill after Dems refused to negotiate
. . . The bill was stripped of purely fiscal elements that required a quorum of 20 state senators to be present and was moved forward to break the impasse over the controversial provisions that made the payment of union dues by state employees voluntary and limited collective bargaining. After a filibuster, the Assembly is expected to pass the bill and send it to Republican Gov. Scott Walker's desk for signature. Left intact in the bill is the requirement that government employees contribute 5.8% of their salaries to their pensions and pay 12.6% toward their health-insurance premiums.
The move was prompted by a letter that Senate Democratic leader Mark Miller sent the governor yesterday indicating that Democrats were unwilling to return from their exile in Illinois unless all of the union dues and bargaining provisions were completely removed from the bill. Democrats are howling that the passage of the amended bill is an affront to democracy, but the procedure was cleared by three important nonpartisan state agencies -- the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the Legislative Council and the Legislative Reference Bureau.
Democrats had already been collecting signatures to recall key Republican legislators and now vow to redouble their efforts. "Everyone who is party to this travesty is writing their political obituary," Democratic State Sen. Chris Larson told reporters. A statement by the Wisconsin Democratic Party added that "we also begin counting the days remaining before Scott Walker is himself eligible for recall." Wisconsin law prohibits the recall of any official unless they have already served a year of their term.
That provision makes the Democratic game plan more difficult. Few doubt that public employee unions have the muscle and money to collect enough recall signatures despite the high threshold, which is 25% of the number of people who last voted for governor. But it's unclear if the anger against Gov. Walker and his fellow Republicans will be intense enough to actually remove any of them from office, since the earliest time a recall election targeting him would go before voters is May 2012. As for recalling GOP state senators, only eight of the 19 Republicans in that body are eligible for recall this year. Of those, only State Senator Dan Kapanke sits in a truly vulnerable district. The rest are all in districts where Governor Walker won at least 54% of the vote in November. . . .
An example of the unions rushing to get contracts done before the deadline.