Big Fitz has gotten over his hurt feelings:
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said that Democrats couldn't vote on bills in committee immediately even though they've returned from Illinois. That's because GOP lawmakers voted to hold Democrats in contempt of the Senate for driving to Illinois to attempt to block a vote on Gov. Scott Walker's union bargaining bill.
What I have yet to understand is what legal ground Fitzgerald was standing on when he claimed Dems were "still in contempt" yesterday. The contempt resolution the GOP passed stated the Dems were in contempt until the end of the first session day of their return, which means they would still be in contempt during any committee hearings that take place before a floor session is convened.
Nevertheless, this whole incident demonstrates the powerful role that personal animosity plays in politics. Although state politics has reportedly become less cordial in the past two decades, the type of personal disdain that the past few weeks have put on display are still rare sights. However, the stress of having their workplace surrounded by protestors for weeks and the threat of being recalled has hardened the already-hard hearts of GOP senators.
The proposal to keep Dems from voting in committee could have been an act of bitter revenge in a moment of passion: "If those bastards are going to try to mess with us, we're going to change the rules on them."
Or it could have been a shrewd calculation. Propose something that appears outrageously tyrannical to anybody who hears about it, but then rescind it the next day in the name of compromise. The protest-weary voters will appreciate it.
It's understandable that Democrats would like to respond in-kind, and demonstrate their commitment to cordiality. However, Sen. Tim Cullen's proposal to amend the constitution to prevent what he and his fellow Democrats just took part in is bizarre.
Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, a key member of the Democratic senators who fled the state in a failed effort to stall Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill, said Tuesday he was drafting a state constitutional amendment that would allow the Legislature to vote on and pass fiscal bills with a simple majority. The constitution requires each house to have three-fifths of all members present to vote on bills that have a fiscal impact.
Isn't that tantamount to admitting you were wrong? Was this a concession extracted by the GOP in exchange for waiving the fines and restoring the Dem voting rights? I couldn't get in touch with Cullen for a response. I wonder
Some Democrats truly are infuriated with the Republicans for stripping workers of collective bargaining rights and they will never forgive them. However, I think for some Democrats, it didn't become personal until the GOP tactics affected their own pocketbooks and rights. Similarly, for many Republicans, the fight didn't become personal until their own jobs got caught in the crosshairs.
Just remember why this whole fight was able to take place. Because Russ Decker lost his job in the Senate, and he hated Jim Doyle.