Assembly Leadership cannot resist slipping in a fast one | WisCommunity

Assembly Leadership cannot resist slipping in a fast one

October 10, 2019 - 11:22am

The state assembly today will address a set of rule changes that is ostensibly aimed at addressing the request made by Rep. Jimmy Anderson to have his needs accommodated so that he can participate more effectively in the Assembly. Though this particular rule change seems a reasonable accommodation the GOP apparently could not resist sticking a set of poison pills into the bill to make life difficult for the Democrats. The requirements of Rep. Anderson have been contentious since Anderson requested the ability to phone into committee hearings and other events when he is incapable of attending in person and to request that sessions are limited in duration. The set of rule changes was set up by GOP leadership and was not a subject of negotiation with Rep. Anderson. he 

The package of rule changes also includes a number of other items, some of which are clearly intended to stack the deck in the Assembly in favor of the Republicans. Rule changes include allowing multiple attempts at overriding a veto by the governor, changes to rulings on dilatory motions, the call of assembly rules, order of business, changes to rules regarding the return to the second reading of bills, and more. The rule changes in bill AR-12 are carefully explained in a blog post at The Wheeler Report. 

Many of these rule changes are straightforward, and reasonable in scope. Some are disturbing, particularly the ability to make multiple attempts at overriding a veto. Currently, if a veto override fails, the override is dead and the bill does not become law. With this change, the majority party can have unlimited opportunities to vote to override, which means that they will have unlimited opportunities to ensure that the right people are on the floor to vote. 

Under Robin Vos' leadership in the Assembly, no opportunity for retribution will be passed up. Anderson's requests seem reasonable accommodations, and in fact, in any private business would be granted as a matter of law. The leadership of the Assembly could not resist bundling an opportunity to do the right thing with multiple cases of grabbing more power in the legislature. Anderson's request has been rumbling through the Assembly for months and could have been easily dealt with by allowing him to phone in to vote on business, as is allowed in the Senate. The bundling of multiple other rules has now put the Democrats into a position where the only way they can accommodate the needs of one of their own members is to cede more power to the majority. 

I continue to be bewildered by the way the GOP leadership keeps forcing in more rules to strengthen the majority party as if they find it impossible to believe that the day may come when they are not the majority party. Perhaps they are planning on another crazy lame-duck session after a possible election loss, in which they will change all the rules back. It becomes increasingly difficult to understand Vos' motivations or plans. 

It appears likely that one result of this is that Anderson is going to vote against the set of rule changes because the other changes bundled in are so disturbing. This is what is passing for a legislative process in Wisconsin these days, where the My-Way-Or-The-Highway stance overrules any possibility of debate.

This video is provided by Wisconsin Eye, and is of the press conference held by GOP leadership where they discuss the rule changes.

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Steve Hanson
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Madison, WI