Remember back in 2009 when Republicans ripped Democrats in Madison for taking a bunch of late night votes on key budget items? It's apparently back to the future at the Capitol as the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee reconvened its meeting to vote on the education segment of the budget and a proposed tax cut measure at 3:30 THIS MORNING! That was after the Committee met until 1:30 am tackling a bunch of other budget items--and then needed a two hour break to shore up votes for the expansion of the School Choice Program.
I want you to ask yourself, how effective are you as a businessperson at 3:30 in the morning--especially if you didn't get any sleep overnight? How alert to details would you be? How willing would you be to switch your stance on something--just so everybody starts arguing and you can go home to bed? And what positive things can you think of that you accomplished between midnight and 5:00 am?
And would you stay up until 3:30 am to keep an eye on the proceedings--especially if it affected you directly? I'm not asking for any sympathy for the reporters who had to cover the JFC meeting--they are getting paid to stay up all night. But don't you think school district superintendents would have appreciated a chance to see the vote on School Choice?
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos proposed putting a curfew on meetings at the Capitol this session. He too felt budget votes in the middle of the night were poor governance. But that idea was scuttled--as it was feared that the minority party--in seeking to delay passage of measures they oppose--would use the daily deadline to, in a way, fillibuster and push votes further and further into the future. So now we are stuck with overnight meetings and sessions that see important legislation debated and approved by bleary-eyed Legislators--out of the view of most constituents.
It's not fair to the lawmakers themselves--and it is certainly not fair to the citizens of Wisconsin.