Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rules? We don't need no stink'in rules. Barca's Complaint About the Conference Committee Meeting.


Senator Fitzgerald's gavel coming down yesterday afternoon, saving Representative Barca some breath.

Representative Peter Barca (D. Kenosha), the minority leader in the Assembly, has now filed a complaint with Dane County D.A. Ismael Ozanne, (a former West H.S. soccer great; this is going to morph into a soccer blog after the "shit settles down.")  Here is the complaint.  It alleges an Open Meeting Violation, for lack of proper notice.

Rob Marchant, the Clerk of the Senate (supposedly a non-partisan position) issued this statement last night concerning the adequacy of the notice of the conference committee meeting late yesterday:

"There was some discussion today about the notice provided for the legislature’s conference committee. In special session, under Senate Rule 93, no advance notice is required other than posting on the legislative bulletin board. Despite this rule, it was decided to provide a 2 hour notice by posting on the bulletin board. My staff, as a courtesy, emailed a copy of the notice to all legislative offices at 4:10, which gave the impression that the notice may have been slightly less than 2 hours. Either way, the notice appears to have satisfied the requirements of the rules and statutes."

Below is the pertinent part of the text of Senate rule 93, which I think everyone agrees covers the conference committee when meeting in special session.  It seems to make the notice given yesterday for the Conference Committee meeting sufficient, even without two hours advanced notice:
Senate Rule 93 (2)
(2) A notice of a committee meeting is not required other than posting on the legislative bulletin board, and a bulletin of committee hearings may not be published.
Senate Rule 93 (3)
(3) The daily calendar is in effect immediately upon posting on the legislative bulletin boards. The calendar need not be distributed.
Senate Rule 93 (4)
(4) Any point of order shall be decided within one hour.
But Representative Barca has raised a much more interesting challenge to the passage of the law than the notice challenge.  In paragraphs 8-13 of his complaint, he points out that conference committee action held between the Senate and Assembly is reserved for meeting in order to hammer out the differences between similar bills that have each been passed in their respective chambers.  Due to the absence of the Dem14, the Senate has never passed a version of Assembly Bill 11, the Budget Repair Bill.

There may have to be a new Budget Repair Bill to cover the costs of lawyers litigating over the old Budget Repair Bill.   But that's what sometimes happens when people race around in an exercise of partisan fury.  At least it's good for the lawyers!

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