People’s Legislature to hold March 13
‘There’s Still Work to Do’ Rally at Capitol

Citizen assembly to convene on final day of legislative session

Posted: February 28, 2008
Updated: March 4, 2008

The People’s Legislature

The People’s Legislature is planning an “Unfinished Business” rally at the State Capitol on Thursday, March 13, the last day the state Legislature is scheduled to be in session to act on general legislative business.

The event will be held in the GAR Hearing Room (417 North) in the Capitol starting at 11 a.m.

The multi-partisan citizen assembly will be protesting what clearly was a deliberate plan by legislative leaders to run out the clock on the 2007-2008 session without taking action on the biggest problems facing the people of Wisconsin. Leaders established a calendar that has both houses wrapping up their regular business seven weeks earlier than last session. In the 2005-2006 session, the last floor period dealing with regular legislative business ended on May 4.

State legislators met in session to do the public’s business an average of about once every three weeks in 2007 - a total of 18 days in the Senate and 20 days in the Assembly. But lawmakers held campaign fundraisers just about every other day, with at least 158 fundraisers held last year, at least 103 of which were held while state budget decisions were being made. Legislators were four months late in passing a state budget and did nothing of note after that, but collected a record $3.9 million in campaign contributions in 2007.

In the event the full Legislature fails to act between now and March 13 on a number of high-profile proposals that both address pressing problems and enjoy broad public support, the People’s Legislature will dramatize lawmakers’ stonewalling by symbolically debating and voting on such measures as protecting the Great Lakes, banning smoking in public places statewide, reforming the state’s health care system and cleaning up election campaigns.

While legislative leaders arbitrarily made March 13 the end of the 2007-2008 session, it is by no means a deadline for dealing with campaign finance reforms. A special session of the Legislature on campaign finance reform has been convened, and this session can continue through the end of the year if necessary.

The Legislature also can convene itself in extraordinary session at any time to deal with any issue, further illustrating how the scheduled end of legislative floor sessions is an artificial deadline for doing the public’s business.