Minority Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature can do little but object, as Republicans at the Capitol put right-to-work legislation on a fast track. As recently as last fall, Governor Scott Walker was calling right-to-work legislation “a distraction.” But on Friday the Republican governor said he’ll sign the bill when it gets to his desk.
“Here we are, not even two months into his new term as governor, and he along with his legislative leaders have decided that this will be the priority,” said state Representative Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), the minority leader in the state Assembly. “He’s calling the shots, there’s absolutely no question about that.”
Walker was attending a National Governors Association meeting in Washington, D.C., but his staff released a statement on Friday that he would sign the bill when it gets to his desk.
State Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) told Milwaukee radio host Charlie Sykes on Friday morning that he and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) were introducing the bill, and would call an extraordinary session to take it up next week. A Senate committee will hold a public hearing on the measure on Tuesday, and the full Senate will take up the measure on Wednesday.
State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) said Democrats will debate “long and loudly” when the bill comes to the Senate floor next week. “There’s some moderates (Republicans) left in the Senate that could stop it, if they’ve got the courage to say no to something really bad for the state.”
The measure represents “legislative overreach into private sector contracts,” according to Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “This is the government inserting itself into private sector agreements that have been made between unions and employers. Thousands of working families and over 440 Wisconsin contractors have already stood up and said this so-called right-to-work legislation is wrong for Wisconsin.”
“It just shows a total lack of leadership, and the ability to bring people together,” said Barca. “They don’t want people to pay attention to our abysmal jobs record and their fiscal mismanagement.”