Democrats try to change a rule that allows a committee to bypass public hearings.
Under current senate rules, a bill can’t be placed on a calendar without first getting a public hearing, although the committee on senate organization can waive that requirement. Senate Democrats want to change that rule so a public hearing can’t be bypassed. Middleton Democrat Jon Erpenbach argues, at the very least, it’s about perception. “The perception around this building for the past year … has been to close doors, has been to cut off public access, and has been to remove people from the galleries and so on.”
Senate President, Neenah Republican Mike Ellis, reminds members of the chamber that the rule has been on the books for a long time — during Democrat control as well as Republican control of the legislature. “These rules are not the product of the Republican-controlled senate; they are the product of past history.” In fact, he says, the rules in the initial resolution were passed unanimously.
Longtime Democratic lawmaker from Madison Fred Risser responds to Ellis’ statement. “This has been on the books for some time; it’s time to change it right now.”
The senate ultimately votes along party lines (17-16) to send the resolution to the senate committee on organization.
AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:24