State Sen. Julie Lassa, who is six months pregnant, said the governor is wrong about her and the others holed up in an Illinois hotel.
“For all of us who left the state, we believe we’re standing up for democracy.” Then-state Sen. Julie Lassa, who was six months pregnant, said the governor is wrong about her and the others holed up in an Illinois hotel
“We’re doing our job of making sure the people have an opportunity to have their voices heard.” Then-state Senator Spencer Coggs
In February 2011, 14 Senate Democrats left the state, at first refusing to disclose their location, to break quorum on an anti-union bill supported by Republican Gov. Scott Walker. It was later revealed that they were residing in Illinois.
The legislation that they protested, 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, limited the collective bargaining authority of public-sector unions to the negotiation of wages and reduced the take-home pay of public employees in order to guarantee the solvency of the state pension system.
“The plan is to try and slow this down because it’s an extreme piece of legislation that’s tearing this state apart,” said Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, one of the lawmakers who left Wisconsin.
Senate procedures require at least two-thirds of the body to be present for votes on bills that appropriated funds. After three weeks, Republicans removed elements of the bill related to budget appropriations, allowing them to pass it with the legislators on hand.
The next year, organizers forced a recall for Walker, using the bill as a campaign focal point. Walker won the election, making him the only governor in history to survive a recall vote.
Days after Wisconsin legislators left their state, 38 House Democrats fled as well, also taking refuge in Illinois.
Inspired by the Democrats in the Badger State, the Hoosiers attempted to block a right-to-work bill, which prohibited labor organizers from compelling employees to join their unions.
“Republicans have decided to bring their Wisconsin assault to Indiana, and we’re not going to just sit around and take it,” said Rep. Dan Parker, the leader of the Democratic caucus in the Indiana House.
Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma agreed to remove the controversial bill from the legislative agenda, leading the Democrats to return to the state. The next year, however, Republicans passed a similar right-to-work law without Democrats walking out.