Lawmakers don't reach deal on ending all-nighters

2013-01-09T05:45:00Z 2013-01-10T19:33:51Z Lawmakers don't reach deal on ending all-nightersThe Associated Press The Associated Press
January 09, 2013 5:45 am  • 

Republican and Democratic leaders emerged from a closed-door meeting Tuesday without reaching agreement on how to cut down on late-night debate in the state Assembly.

Leaders from both parties met in secret to discuss proposals put forward by Republican Speaker Robin Vos. He and Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca said after the meeting they were still negotiating and would talk more Wednesday.

"I would say we're not very close yet," Barca said. "You might say we're worlds apart."

Both Barca and Vos said they are committed to finding a way to have the Assembly conduct more of its business during regular business hours and not late into the night or in the early morning hours.

"The goal is to try and come together," Barca said.

Republicans hold a 59-39 majority in the Assembly and can pass whatever rules they want. Vos said that vote would still occur Thursday.

Vos said another change they are pursuing is to require people on the floor of the Assembly to wear a suit coat, a change Barca said some Democrats would object to. That is currently the requirement in the Senate, but it is not consistently enforced.

Tuesday's meeting included eight members of the 12-member Assembly Rules Committee, which constitutes a quorum. After reporters asked to be let into the meeting in the speaker's office, Barca and Vos came into a hallway and denied they were violating the open meetings law.

Vos said the meeting was legal because the rule changes they were discussing would go to the full Assembly for a vote and not to the Rules Committee.

Vos' spokeswoman Kit Beyer said after talking with the attorney general's office they were confident there was no violation of the open meetings law. She would not say what the attorney general's office said.

The Wisconsin Assembly's late-night sessions have produced some dramatic moments. Passage of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan effectively ending collective bargaining for public workers in 2011 came at 1 a.m. after a 61-hour filibuster. Republicans hustled off the floor to a barrage of insults from the gallery and yells of "Shame!" from Democrats.

Other times, lawmakers have burst into song, imitated one another or just become unusually candid.

Take Rep. Gary Sherman's tirade around 4 a.m. in 2008.

"This is unprofessional. This is stupid. We have no business to be here," Sherman yelled. "There's people in this room with cancer. There's people in this room with heart disease. A third of the room has high blood pressure. There's elderly people. There's pregnant people. What the hell are we doing?"

Lawmakers aren't alone in their dislike of the late nights.

"It's a huge impediment to citizen oversight of the Legislature," said Mike McCabe, director of the nonpartisan government watchdog group the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. "It leads to fewer eyes watching the Legislature, and that's never healthy."

Some other states have taken steps to rein in the late-night sessions, such as the 11 p.m. in curfew in Pennsylvania or the midnight one in Oklahoma.

In Minnesota, lawmakers require a vote to work past midnight, although they still routinely do it.

The New York Senate has an unofficial but strict rule against marathon sessions. But there's no such rule in the New York Assembly, where the final-session days have all gone into the early morning in recent years.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(16) Comments

  1. iponder
    Report Abuse
    iponder - January 09, 2013 11:32 am
    I had to laugh at the WSJ description of Robin Vos. The dress code only reinforces his prim and proper public image. Talk to some of the people that have to deal with him behind closed doors. He is a snake.
  2. iponder
    Report Abuse
    iponder - January 09, 2013 11:29 am
    I think the legislature should just quickly adopt the solutions being whispered into Robin Vos's ear by ALEC and the lobbyists that visit him daily. Business would then be conducted quickly and we would have a part time legislature getting paid as full time legislators. Or. Robin needs to put on his big boy pants and take the time to make decisions that benefit the taxpayers of this state. I have never seen another legislator that was so influenced by lobbyists and special interest money. Greasing the skids doesn't sound like a good solution.
  3. Fur94
    Report Abuse
    Fur94 - January 09, 2013 10:13 am
    I'm ok with rules about a dress code, but it seems a little silly. I assume it refers to men, as I think there is formal business dress for women that doesn't have a jacket. I also assume the rules don't apply to guests, children or others who might be there for a ceremony (for example Native Americans or Aaron Rodgers Jerseys on 12/12/12). I would hate to see them waste time voting on exceptions for these every time they come up.

    I think the "vote to work pass midnight" makes the most sense. Debate should be able to continue as needed, and the rush to pass things would probably produce bad legislation.

    One thing I wanted to see is if the rumor about pay and staff cuts is true. I heard that the Republicans were trying to cut staff and pay, but only for Democrats. If this is true, it seems very dishonest, and another effort to grab power. If anyone has more information about the rumor (true or dispelled), please share a link.
  4. nan3
    Report Abuse
    nan3 - January 09, 2013 9:17 am
    "Why negotiate with the Democrats? Than't easy, because Walker would like a 2nd term. They've been messaging a new, gentler approach since Pres Obama's reelection, when the country rejected the extreme right wing agenda. Think Paul Ryan who couldn't deliver his home state for Romney. Ya, Ya Ryan got reelected. Gerrymandering. And Tammy beat Tommy. I think even the obtuse DOA gets it. "Vos should simply set the rules and be done with it". Yet, by your previous sentence you obviously took issue with Doyle doing what you perceive as the same thing. So, which is it?
  5. ems1
    Report Abuse
    ems1 - January 09, 2013 8:53 am
    This would not be a discussion point UNLESS it was/is an adavntage to someone!
  6. listenup
    Report Abuse
    listenup - January 09, 2013 8:49 am
    Gee, I would think that working with a suitcoat on would hinder them 'rolling up their shirt
    sleeves' and getting to work. Maybe that is what has been the problem!
  7. LiLa
    Report Abuse
    LiLa - January 09, 2013 7:24 am
    This is becoming Wisconsin's version of Nero fiddling while Rome burns.
  8. JAFO
    Report Abuse
    JAFO - January 09, 2013 7:23 am
    If having more guns out there will solve our gun violence problem, then clearly the best way to solve this problem is just to have more of these late night sessions.
  9. Thinkingoutloud
    Report Abuse
    Thinkingoutloud - January 09, 2013 6:56 am
    Sounds like bargaining for working conditions.....naughty naughty
  10. powmda
    Report Abuse
    powmda - January 09, 2013 6:04 am
    It makes sense to get the business done during the day, in one session, of not more than 8 to 10 hours. There is no need for marathon arguing. The only thing here that seems strange is that Vos is "negotiating" with the Democrats. Why do that?? During the years when Doyle and the democrats held total power, did they ever negotiate with the Republicans? Vos should simply set the rules and be done with it!
    Report Abuse
    REALTHUG - January 09, 2013 4:25 am
    Wearing a suit coat? Really? Our legislative branch is a joke. That's what is important? Only in Fitzwalkerstan. control freaks!
  12. john q public
    Report Abuse
    john q public - January 09, 2013 3:56 am
    Just lock the doors with no food and water until they get things done. Govts need to worry more about the people and less about screwing over the other party.
  13. nan3
    Report Abuse
    nan3 - January 08, 2013 11:22 pm
    Do these morons think the people they are supposed to represent want them to spend one second even thinking about whether or not to wear a suit coat? I guess those orange t shirts a couple years back really got under their extremely thin skin. What could possibly be more trivial?
  14. Reply
    Report Abuse
    Reply - January 08, 2013 11:09 pm
    "... another change they are pursuing is to require people on the floor of the Assembly to wear a suit coat ..."

    I can't begin to express how glad I am to see our legislature tackling the real issues facing their constituents.
  15. Devastation608
    Report Abuse
    Devastation608 - January 08, 2013 10:57 pm
    The republicans will always make the democrats sweat it out. It's strategy, but it's also tragedy.
  16. Stevensays
    Report Abuse
    Stevensays - January 08, 2013 10:34 pm
    They would be able to work much easier if they would do what's right for the people of Wisconsin instead of for the corporations.

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