Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate voted today to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers after discovering a way to bypass the chamber's missing Democrats. The measure now goes to the Assembly, which is expected to approve it tomorrow. The Senate requires a quorum to take up any measures that spend money, but Republicans today rewrote the bill, removing all the parts that spent money. That allowed them to pass it with a simple majority present.
The lone Democrat present on the conference committee shouted that the surprise meeting violated state law, but Republicans voted over his objections. Spectators in the gallery screamed "You are cowards" during the vote. All 14 Senate Democrats fled to Illinois nearly three weeks ago, preventing the chamber from having enough members present to consider Gov. Scott Walker's so-called "budget repair bill"—a proposal introduced to plug a $137 million budget shortfall. Today's maneuver got around that. (Read more Wisconsin stories.)