By Kate Flynn
While many Beloiters enjoyed warm weather in various parts of the country (and world) during spring break last week, things were heating up just a few miles north in Madison. On March 10, 2011, Wisconsin lawmakers voted 53-42 to remove nearly all collective bargaining rights from state public workers’ unions. The legislation was originally part of a budget bill that Governor Scott Walker introduced on Feb. 11 to ostensibly plug a $3.6 million budget hole.
Republicans were able to find a way to bypass the 14 missing Democrats, needed for quorum in the state legislature. The Senate requires a quorum to take up measures that spend money, but on Wednesday, March 9, Republicans split the proposal to curtail union rights, which spends no money, from the rest of the bill. It was approved a short time later.
On Saturday, March 12, the 14 Democratic state senators who had previously fled to Illinois returned to Madison. A crowd of roughly 100,000 greeted them in the streets, and Senator Timothy Cullen was quoted in the New York Times as saying that it was his “greatest experience as a public official.”
Some constituents are now focusing on recall efforts against eligible Republican senators.
On March 11, Lisa Horan’12 took these photos in and around the capitol building in Madison. This reporter was also present, and the vigor and energy of the protesters was apparent. The capitol building also kind of smelled like feet.