Have you wondered how 14 state senators in Wisconsin can go into hiding in the middle of a legislative session?  Could it happen where you are?  Chances are it could, without action to either prevent it or prosecute the offenders.  Wisconsin had neither, until today.  The Wisconsin Senate passed a resolution today instructing the police to detain the 14 Democrats for contempt after they left the state to prevent a vote on a bill that would restrict public-sector union’s collective bargaining rights.  As long as the senators remain in Illinois, the resolution has little effect, unless Illinois cooperates.  However once any of the senators returns to Wisconsin they would be taken into custody.

The bill went into effect when none of the 14 returned to the senate chamber by 4 p.m. today.  Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald signed orders of detainment for each of the Democrat senators that have fled to Illinois.  The Wisconsin Constitution prohibits the arrest of lawmakers while in session, except under severe circumstances such as a felony charge.  However, since this resolution doesn’t call for the arrest, but only detainment of the senators, it allows the Sergeant at Arms to take whatever steps are necessary, including force, to bring the senators back to Madison.

Two weeks after the Democrat senators high-tailed it to Illinois, the situation ratchets up as layoff notices begin to be issued to state workers Friday due to Wisconsin’s $3.6 billion budget shortfall.  Democrat state senators say they’re not budging, so it could get quite ugly.  It’s a shame when the minority party uses such tactics to avoid an inevitable vote, playing games with the livelihood of their fellow citizens.

A similar situation has unfolded in Indiana, where House Democrats have also fled to Illinois to prevent voting on legislation involving labor and education.  The Indiana stalemate is now in its 10th day.  But while Wisconsin is releasing the dogs, the Indiana House voted to levy a $250 per day fine on Democrats boycotting the legislature.  Fines will start accumulating Monday and will be withheld from the legislator’s salaries or expense reimbursements.  Indiana House Republicans say the Democrats disappearing act has cost taxpayers more than $250,000.

For years the Republicans have been labeled “The Party of No,” so will Democrats now be known as “The Party of Hissy Fits?”  At what point did holding your breath and throwing a tantrum become public service?  When in the minority you often lose the battles; that’s a given.  And when in the majority, you often rule the day.  It’s been said over and over again, by both parties, elections have consequences.  When the people speak they are choosing a path.  It may not be the path you’d like.  It may not be the path you voted for.  But it is the rule of the majority of the electorate.  Legislators who don’t respect the will of the people inevitably feel their displeasure.

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