Monday, February 28, 2011

Two Solutions to the Wisconsin Stalemate

The Republican majority of the Wisconsin State Senate has at hand the tools to end its stalemate now.

The Wisconsin Constitution requires that to vote on a law dealing with taxing or spending or borrowing, a "quorum" is needed, and the minimum number to constitute a "quorum" is sixty percent of the elected members of the legislature:

ARTICLE VIII FINANCE

Vote on fiscal bills; quorum. SECTION 8. On the passage in either house of the legislature of any law which imposes, continues or renews a tax, or creates a debt or charge, or makes, continues or renews an appropriation of public or trust money, or releases, discharges or commutes a claim or demand of the state, the question shall be taken by yeas and nays, which shall be duly entered on the journal; and three-fifths of all the members elected to such house shall in all such cases be required to constitute a quorum therein.

A "money-related" quorum in the current legislative session is 20 (19.8) senators of the 33 senators elected. The current party breakdown in the Wisconsin Senate is 19 Republicans and 14 Democrats. Each one of the 14 Democratic senators has refused to appear in the Senate chamber in Madison, leaving 19 Republicans alone at their desks and, seemingly, unable to have a vote until at least one Democrat shows up for work.

[It is widely believed that those lying-low legislators have gone so far as to leave Wisconsin entirely, hiding out in a hotel in Illinois.]

The common understanding is that unless at least one of those 14 decides to return to the Senate chamber, a money bill cannot be voted on. That does not have to be the case.

Read the full article here.

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