Senate Majority Scott Fitzgerald has told Senate Republicans that any votes taken by Senate Democrats in standing committee public hearings and executive sessions will not be counted or recorded.
"Please note that all 14 Democrat senators are still in contempt of the Senate," Fitzgerald wrote in an email Monday afternoon that was posted on wispolitics.com "Therefore, when taking roll call votes on amendments and bills during executive sessions, Senate Democrats' votes will not be reflected in the Records of Committee Proceedings or the Senate Journal."
The senators are free, however, to "attend hearings, listen to testimony, debate legislations, introduce amendments, and cast votes to signal their support/opposition," Fitzgerald added.
Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, had not heard of Fitzgerald's directives but questioned the majority leader's authority.
"In my career of 50 some years I have never come across a situation where the majority leader of any party could determine that the votes of another party could not count," said Risser. "This is the height of arrogance."
Risser said that he and other members of the Building Commission subcommittee met Monday on Gov. Scott Walker's capital budget and acted in a non-partisan manner.
"We acted in the interest of the state of Wisconsin and approved a good share of the governor's recommendations and will be presenting the capital budget to the finance committee. I don't even know if he has the power to say the votes are not counted. Where does he get the power to say he's not going to count the votes?"
No one answered the phone at Fitzgerald's office Monday evening to clarify his authority in this regard.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate condemed Fitzgerald's move in a statement saying "Republican State Senators weren't content with stripping thousands of working families of their voice in the workplace, now they want to strip them of their voice in state government as well. Scott Walker must end Scott Fitzgerald's move to silence senators that represent more than two million Wisconsinites and immediately restore their voting rights."
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