Members of the state Assembly returned to the Capitol for their first floor session since the summer. However, their efforts to take up the calendar for the day were repeatedly delayed by protestors. Police move quickly to remove spectators who were attempting to record the Assembly proceedings from the gallery.
Recording devices are banned under Assembly rules, except for credentialed members of the press. No recording is allowed in the gallery where the demonstrators were sitting. Several of those picked up by officers yelled out as they were removed, although all had been sitting quietly before police stepped in.
That previously quiet behavior prompted a call from state Representative Mark Radcliffe (D-Black River Falls) to consider changing the rules to allow videotaping by the public. The Black River Falls Democrat says “it’s disturbing to see my fellow citizens yanked out of here because they want to sit there with a video camera.”
Republicans rejected the proposal, but said they would be willing to consider the issue later.
The disruptions are the latest of many that have broken out this year at the Capitol. Protesters have been an almost constant presence since the debate over Governor Walker’s collective bargaining bill. Many have remained a fixture even after the legislation passed, with a core group continuously disrupting meetings and floor sessions.
The Assembly was able to finish its calendar for the day, despite the disruptions. Lawmakers gave final approval to a bill that moves up the date of the state’s presidential preference primary from February 21 to April 3, while several other bills were sent back to legislative committees.
The Assembly is not expected to be back in session again until October, a fact that Democrats repeatedly criticized Republicans for during Tuesday’s floor session.