Senate Republicans stepped up their efforts Wednesday to compel the 14 Senate Democrats who fled Wisconsin two weeks ago to come home.
The Senate voted to impose a $100 per day fee for any senator who is absent without leave for two or more session days. Republicans remaining in the Senate approved the daily fine resolution with none of the Democrats present.
"They're doing this petty stuff," said state Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, one of the senators who left to avoid voting on Gov. Scott Walker's controversial budget repair bill.
The new resolution also requires the absent Democrats to reimburse the Senate for any costs incurred in attempts to force them to return, and their travel expenses and per diem payments can be withheld until they pay back the penalties and costs. Salaries would not be affected.
The resolution, drafted by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, allows any law enforcement officer in the state to find and return any of the missing senators.
Republicans have already withheld the checks of missing Democrats from direct deposit and denied access to copying machines for their staff.
Fitzgerald had met quietly Monday with at least one of the 14 Senate Democrats to discuss ways to bring them back from Illinois.
He with Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, at a McDonald's in Kenosha on Monday morning, Cullen said. He said he presented a list of eight or nine proposed changes to Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill, and Fitzgerald came back with a counter offer.
"It was something," Cullen said, "but it wasn't enough."
Fitzgerald - who joined with 16 other GOP senators at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon - said Cullen told him five or six senators planned to return that day and break the boycott, but Cullen called soon before the 11 a.m. session and said they would not be showing up at the state Capitol.
Cullen could not be reached immediately for comment.