Wisconsin senate committee passes new rule: Senators must collect their paychecks in person

A nice first step. The next step, after the “fleebaggers” (as they’re now being called on Twitter) have come home, should be to pass a law retroactively docking their pay for the days they missed. Senate Republicans can’t do that now, I believe, because it’s a fiscal measure and those require a 20-member quorum. But soon enough, soon enough.

[MOTION] That the Chief Clerk provide the paycheck, per diem check, and any expense reimbursement check of any Senator who is absent without leave for 2 or more session days to the Majority Leader for the absent member to pick up in person. Until the Majority Leader authorizes the Chief Clerk to reinstate direct deposit, the Chief Clerk shall suspend the direct deposit of the paycheck of any such Senator and process the Senator’s pay as a paper check. The Majority Leader shall provide the checks only to the absent Senator and only on the floor of the Senate during a session day.

The committee vote on that was 3-2, three Republicans in the majority and two Democrats in the minority. But wait — how can Democrats vote when they’re not there? Well, apparently, telephone votes are permissible and common practice for committee sessions, just not for floor sessions. Although not every GOP committee chairman was understanding about that this time around:

The Senate Committee on Transportation and Elections made significant changes to the photo ID bill in a meeting that was at tunes bizarre because of the Democrats’ absence. Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) participated in the meeting by phone, but Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin), the committee chairwoman, refused to let him vote.

Senators routinely participate in committee meetings by phone and are allowed to debate, offer amendments and vote on measures. But Lazich said she wasn’t allowing Erpenbach to vote because he had an invalid reason for being absent.

“I won’t extend courtesies for unethical behavior,” Lazich told Erpenbach.

“Do you want the headline to be, ‘Republicans won’t let Democrats vote,’ even though we’ve allowed that many, many times?” Erpenbach said.

Erpenbach’s name was not called as the clerk took the roll, but he repeatedly yelled, “No!” over the speakerphone.

And thus it came to be that a guy who fled the state to stop Republicans from voting is warning about bad headlines for the GOP if it fails to honor democracy. Perfect.

Scott Walker held a “fireside chat” about the standoff on Wisconsin television just within the last hour; the Journal-Sentinel has a transcript. Of special note are his frequent references to union members who are tired of the PEUs’ free ride and his salute at the beginning to how “civil” the debate has been at the Capitol over the past week. That’s a bald-faced lie — scroll through Ed’s photo round-up of “Walker is the new Hitler” signs or watch doctors hand out fraudulent sick notes for yourself — but the more gracious he is, the harder it is for the left to demagogue him. I’m told that the fugitive Dems delivered a rebuttal after he finished, which involved one of them sitting in front of a Wisconsin flag … while hiding out in Illinois. Anyone seen video of that? Send it along if you do, please.

Update: Here you go. Unbelievable.