MADISON, Wis. - Republican and Democratic leaders have not reached any agreement on changes to how the state Assembly operates designed to curtail all-night debates.
Leaders from both parties met in secret Tuesday to discuss proposals put forward by Republican Speaker Robin Vos. He and Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca emerged from the meeting saying they were still discussing ideas and would meet again Wednesday.
Barca said they are "worlds apart" on agreement over how to rein in debate that frequently goes all night. But both Barca and Vos said they are committed to finding a way to stop having debate in the early morning hours.
"I think we have a shared goal. I think we want to find a way to have an effective debate but not have one where if you're a citizen and want to watch this going on on WisEye or even watch your local news, we shouldn't go in late at night where some vote is taken at 2, 3, 4 in the morning without ample opportunity for citizens to participate, so I think we agree on that concept," Vos said.
"We fully agree on that concept, we're just trying to figure out a way to get it there that addresses both of our concerns. There's a good bipartisan agreement that we want to go out of session before most normal Wisconsinites go to sleep at night," Barca said.
Vos says he intends to have the Republican-controlled Assembly vote on the rule changes Thursday.
Last session, in 33 scheduled session starts the Assembly went for 10 overnights from 2011 to 2012. That includes three straight nights of debating Act 10 in the state Assembly in February 2011.
Delaying debate or votes on a bill is frequently a tactic used by the minority party. Any changes to rules that would limit debate are likely to be met with opposition from Democrats.
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