APPLETON - Senate Democrats have left the state so they won't be forced to go to the Capitol. When they return, will there be consequences?
Arnold Shober is a Lawrence University government professor. He's studied the Wisconsin state constitution, and says it has a few lines talking about what happens when state legislators don't show up for work, in part saying "each chamber may compel the attendance of absent members."
FOX 11 asked him how someone would be compelled to get to the Capitol.
"You can tell them hop in a squad car, you can tell them you better show up. There haven't been that many instances that we really know what you could do," said Shober.
Though returning to the Capitol could involve a ride in squad car, it appears there really isn't much after that in the way of punishment.
"It's not criminal to do this. It's one way to stall on this particular bill," said Shober.
Shober says a few other state governments have had similar situations in the past where legislators have left their home state for more than just one day.
When the Wisconsin Senators return appears to be anyone's guess.
"The Senate governs its own rules and they can stay out of state really as long as they want," explained Shober. "There's not a hard and fast rule about this. One of the bizarre things about legislatures is they write rules for themselves, so they usually are pretty favorable."
The senate needs three-fifths of its members there in order to vote. If just one Senate Democrat returns, that requirement would be met.
"When a Democratic Senator shows up at the Capitol, Sen. (Michael) Ellis will call a session and they will take up the bill right away," said Shober.
But "right away" could be some time.
Shober says the senate could impose a penalty for the members who are not there, if the senators decide to do so. However, he says that is fairly unlikely, since they will have to work together in the future.
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