Starting Tuesday, those [Democratic] senators, who are in Illinois, will have to watch from afar as Republicans continue the work of governing without them, taking up matters from the mundane to the controversial.You know, it really was rather smart of the Republicans to let the protest/exile peter out over time. The teachers couldn't keep canceling school, and the group at the Capitol will, more and more, be UW students/TAs and old Madison lefties with more radical slogans. The legislators-in-hiding look more and more ineffectual and more and more Chicago. I don't think these developments are increasing political support around the state.
“By not being here, they’re basically deciding to let things go through the body unchecked,” said Scott Fitzgerald, the Senate majority leader. “They’re not here to represent their constituents. We’re here to work.”...
In Wisconsin, the issues scheduled for consideration in the Senate on Tuesday were routine: an appointment by the governor, tax breaks for dairy farmers and a resolution commending the Green Bay Packers for their Super Bowl victory. But Mr. Fitzgerald said more significant legislation could also be in play, including a bill requiring voter identification that Democrats strongly oppose.
Gov. Scott Walker, in comments delivered against the din of the raucous protesters gathered outside his office, praised the Senate Republicans for the move, which he said he hoped would entice the Democrats home. “It’s time for them to come back and participate in democracy,” Mr. Walker said.
Meanwhile, Walker and his GOP cohort are waiting patiently — it only takes a few days — to get going working on the state's problems.
“They can vote on anything that is nonfiscal,” said Senator Jon Erpenbach, a Democrat, from his hotel across state lines.(There's a Senate rule that requires a larger quorum for fiscal matters. The Republicans need one Democratic senator to return to give them that quorum.)
“They can take up their agenda; they can do whatever they choose to do.”What legislation should the Republicans put on the agenda? They have the votes to pass things with or without the Democrats, so the question might be: What do they want to do that will be especially convenient to do without Democrats around to pester them? Or: What are the things that, if done without the Democrats' participation, will most hurt the Democrats politically? Or: What issue will prompt at least one Democrat to return, thus enabling them to get to the fiscal matters?
Mr. Erpenbach said that his caucus was determined not to return until the restrictions to collective bargaining were off the table. But he worried aloud about what legislation could emerge in the meantime.
UPDATE: Concealed carry, voter ID, race-blind admissions in the University of Wisconsin system...