Wisconsin Senate Orders Arrest of AWOL Democrats
Republicans hold their counterparts in official contempt
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2011 5:28 PM CST
File photo: Wisconsin Rep. Jon Richards and other Assembly Democrats walk into the chamber together in orange t-shirts on Feb. 17.   (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, Michael P. King)

(Newser) – This is way more serious than yanking their photocopying privileges. Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate today declared the missing Democrats in contempt and ordered their arrest, reports the Wisconsin State Journal. And if force is needed, so be it. It's not clear whether the state constitution actually allows this, however, and Democrats don't sound all that worried: "The Republicans have gone around the bend," said one. "They've just increased their bullying tactics and are producing an even greater divide in our state."

The GOP resolution instructs the Senate's sergeant-at-arms to "take any and all necessary steps, with or without force, and with or without the assistance of law enforcement officers, by warrant or other legal process," to round up the Democrats, notes the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We simply cannot have democracy be held hostage because the minority wants to prove a point," said GOP Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. Meanwhile, Gov. Scott Walker says thousands of layoff warnings will go out tomorrow to state workers because of the impasse.