clocktower resortWisconsin has been the focus of national attention as thousands of protesters flooded the State Capital and a dozen or more Senate Democrats fled to an Rockford Resort (featured to the right).  Recent news reports indicated that those Senate Democrats in hiding plan to stay outside state boundaries until Republicans are willing to negotiate terms.  From a Democrat standpoint, the political stunt would delay the budget process so more unions could mobilize their forces.  But there appears to be a way to draw Democrats back in without re-negotiating terms.

Rick Esenberg touched on the issue when he said that Republicans could pass the Collective Bargaining part of the bill without a Democrat by de-coupling it from the Budget-Repair bill.  There is also another way of getting the Rockford 14 to return.  Currently, you need 3/5 of the Senate body for a quorum on fiscal matters, but you only need a simple majority for quorum on non-fiscal items.

If Republicans were to close the special session they have on the Budget-Repair bill and open a regular session on, say, School Choice or Voter ID, they could pass bills while Democrats were away in Rockford.  It would be an absolute PR nightmare for Wisconsin Democrats if Republicans were passing bills whilst the 14 Senators were MIA.  Presumably - if they weren't stupid - they would rush back to Madison to participate.  Republicans could greet them with smiles and then close the regular session to reopen the session on the Budget-Repair bill.  It's not likely that those Senators would flee again, unless of course they want to answer to a permanent Republican majority.

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