Fled Dems in Illinois Call Wis. Vote Illegal

Erpenbach says Dems will meet Thursday about whether they'll return to Wisconsin to fight the unexpected vote

By Lisa Balde
|  Thursday, Mar 10, 2011  |  Updated 7:39 AM CDT
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Overnight Vote Irks 'Local' Wis. Senators

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Senator on the Run

Senator John Erpenbach gives some insight into why he's staying away from home.

Wisconsin Senator Reacts to Vote

Jon Erpenbach talks about what happened overnight in Madison.
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The way Wisconsin Republicans pushed a controversial bill through the Senate Wednesday night may be illegal, the state's Dems in Illinois say. 

"We have open records laws in the state of Wisconsin. They have to notice [the vote] at least two hours if not 24 hours before they pass it," Sen. Jon Erpenbach told NBC 5 Thursday morning. "They didn't do that."

The GOP senators separated a decision to strip collective bargaining rights from public workers from Gov. Scott Walker's "budget repair bill" in order to vote without the minimum 20 senators.

Erpenbach said the Dems originally suggested that, saying bargaining rights aren't fiscal, but Walker refused.

The 14 Democrats fled to Illinois last month to boycott legislation they say a majority of Wisconsin residents don't support.

Erpenbach says the Dems will meet Thursday to discuss whether they'll return right away to Wisconsin and fight the unexpected Senate vote. There's risk in returning, though, Erpenbach said.

"They could do a call of the House, they could lock the doors, and they could make us vote on the entire budget repair bill."

Erpenbach says the Dems have contacted Walker's office daily to negotiate and, until Wednesday's vote, thought they were making progress via private discussions with Walker.

"We were really confused," he said. "We didn't know which kind of Scott Walker we were dealing with. Was it the public guy or the private guy?"

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