One state lawmaker wants to change the constitution to prevent another legislative standoff. Senator Tim Cullen (D-Janesville) is one of the 14 Democrats who fled the state for three weeks to avoid voting on Governor Scott Walker’s budget repair bill. “And the only way to stop this from being a precedent, and have it so that it doesn’t happen again, is you actually have to change the constitution.”
Rather than requiring a super majority to pass fiscal bills, Cullen wants to lower the number of lawmakers needed for a quorum, saying a simple majority would suffice. He says it’s his way of helping to repair the state senate. “We’ve kind of become a bruised institution over this last month or so. I think it’s time for people in both parties to say ‘we all contributed to the problems we have now; we all contributed to the state of the state senate today.'”
Cullen says it’s important for all 33 senators to admit their role in the political standoff, which led to statewide protests, including crowds of up to 100,000 in the capital city, and virtual communities camping in the Capitol rotunda.
While the Dems ran for the border, Cullen says the GOP rammed through bills and verbal assaults came from both sides.
Cullen wants to move forward with a more civil legislature, as expressed this afternoon by Senate President Mike Ellis (R-Neenah), when he said it’s time to “cool off” and “put people’s agenda ahead of animosity.” Cullen says, “Those are terrific comments and that’s exactly what I would expect out of Senator Ellis. He gets it.” Cullen adds, “He’s one of the real leaders of the senate.”
Cullen says fleeing Wisconsin (on February 17th) was the right decision at the time, saying it stopped “a bad bill from going through too fast” before anyone got a chance to learn more about it. But, he admits “it was extraordinary action to take over an extraordinarily important bill” and it should never happen again. As Cullen offers this olive branch to the GOP, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) accepts, and signs on to the bill as a co-author.
Before the constitution can be amended, it must first get approval from two consecutive legislatures. Then voters must agree to it in a statewide referendum.