April 17, 2014

‘New day’ could end Assembly all-nighters (AUDIO)

A new day for the Wisconsin state Assembly may mean no more all-nighters. Contentious debate in the wee small hours of the morning has become something of a norm in the chamber, but at a Thursday press conference leadership from both parties unveiled a memorandum of understanding which may put an end to that. “One of the things that I think Republicans and Democrats began with an agreement on, is that we do not want to have all night sessions,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. “We think that is not in the best interest of the people, and clearly it is not in the best interests of transparency and open government.”

AUDIO: Assembly press conference (22:00)

The memorandum of understanding between Assembly leaders includes “a goal of finishing debate at a reasonable time,” and time limits on debate once lawmakers take to the floor. “I’m not quite ready to say that all is going to be great throughout the session, but I am willing to say that this is a great start,” said Minority Leader Peter Barca. “I think it’s got a great chance.”

Members approved the new rules aimed at limiting all-night sessions on a 96-0 vote. They also approved a package which includes a dress code, and rules aimed at limiting disruptions in the public galleries.

READ: Memorandum of understanding (PDF)