March 10, 2011- In a decisive blow to union power, Wisconsin lawmakers voted Thursday to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from the state's public workers.
The state's Assembly passed Republican Gov. Scott Walker's explosive proposal 53-42 Thursday. The state's Senate approved it the night before after using a procedural move to bypass its AWOL Democrats.
Walker says he'll sign the legislation as quickly as possible.
"I applaud all members of the Assembly for showing up, debating the legislation and participating in democracy," Walker said in a statement. "Their action will save jobs, protect taxpayers, reform government and help balance the budget."
Wisconsin Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca filed a complaint Thursday with a local district attorney's office claiming that Republicans violated the state's open meetings law with the Senate's actions Wednesday. He complained that the conference committee that first took up the proposal did so without a prior vote in the Senate and that lawmakers were not given sufficient notice.
Earlier Thursday, protesters were removed from the Wisconsin capitol building as Republicans under police escort used a tunnel entrance to return to the chamber.
Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald predicted his chamber would pass the bill, after the Senate on Wednesday broke a three-week impasse by passing a pared-down version of Walker's budget proposal. Senate Democrats held up the bill by fleeing the state, but Republicans crafted a version that allowed them to advance it in their absence.