Wisconsin Assembly’s all-nighters targeted
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — To young people, pulling an all-nighter usually involves lots of caffeine and staying up to study.
To the Wisconsin state Assembly, it’s an all-too-familiar method of doing the state’s business.
The new Republican speaker of the Assembly has some ideas for ending the all-night sessions, but he refused to announce what any of them were after a private meeting Tuesday with Democratic leaders. Talks were to resume Wednesday, but Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca said “we’re worlds apart.”
If Democrats don’t go along with what Republicans want, the Assembly’s debate Thursday on approving the new rules could — wait for it — go all night.
“It’s not hard to get people to agree it’s not good to be working at 3 in the morning,” said former Wisconsin state Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer. “It’s another thing to create the conditions where that doesn’t happen.”
Going past midnight happens elsewhere, especially at the end of sessions or as other deadlines loom.
But the Wisconsin Assembly routinely pushes debates and votes on contentious bills into the wee hours, when only lobbyists and the cleaning crew are left in the building.
“Those overnight sessions are just killers,” said former Democratic state Rep. Mordecai Lee. “After a while you just zonk out. I remember being in overnight sessions and I couldn’t think straight.”