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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Statements from Senator Chris Larson and State Representative Andy Jorgensen

Statement from Senator Chris Larson (D)

Today, Republicans stampeded their right-wing attack on workers. No longer in the state of Wisconsin will citizens be able to say there is no difference between the Democrats and Republicans. Moving forward, every citizen will remember that when push came to shove, Democrats sacrificed 3 weeks away from family, friends and home in order to let the public be heard on a horrible bill that takes away worker's rights. In response, Republicans shut down the public hearing, then shut down the legislative hotline, then shut down debate in the Assembly in the middle of the night, then tried to lock citizens out of the Capitol, then took over Democratic offices. And last night, when they had their last chance at redemption, they used questionable tactics and again ignored the public and chose to be rubber-stamps in Governor Walker's race to the bottom. Today, they finished by cutting off access to the Capitol again and jamming through their attack on worker's rights.

This is indeed a setback for today. But tomorrow, the citizens of Wisconsin will wake up and engage in the democratic process like never before. Recalls of these rubber-stamp Republicans will kick into high gear as clipboards begin to replace protest signs in neighborhoods across the state.

They couldn't be heard by the Governor or the Republicans in Madison, but now they will be heard all across the state at the ballot box.

In leaving the morning of February 17th, we gave the people of Wisconsin time to see what was truly hidden in this Trojan Horse bill and in the process woke up a sleeping middle-class all across the country. The public engaged in a peaceful protest unlike any other in Wisconsin's history and those people will continue to make our democracy in their own way. Walker gave away his entire union-busting agenda to prank caller and his honeymoon with the public came to an abrupt halt.

I am proud of that we, the 14 Democratic State Senators, were able to help make democracy accessible and meaningful to our neighbors these last 3 weeks. It was always the people back home that gave us our energy and kept us strong. My heroes are those individuals that engaged in the peaceful protests in Madison and in neighborhoods across the state. Your voices are needed in our democracy for it to continue to be successful.

Soon, we will join you again as we continue this fight for Wisconsin's future.

Just before leaving Wisconsin on Feb 17th
"United in Solidarity"
From State Representative Andy Jorgensen

Dear Friends,

As we had expected – and dreaded – Assembly Republicans this afternoon forced a vote on the reworked version of Governor Walker’s budget adjustment bill.  It was approved on a 53-42-1 margin, with all Democrats including me, proudly voting no.  Here’s a link to the official roll call:

Republicans stifled debate on the measure, as they had done in the past.  They allowed us just two hours to present our arguments; in that time, we called for the removal of the Speaker, questioned the legality of the consideration of a bill which may not have even been fully drafted before last night’s Senate session and again confronted Republicans with reality – the fact that the vast majority of Wisconsinites disagree with their plan.  Then, when the Speaker Pro Tempore demanded a vote, as has been done countless times over the past weeks, Democrats objected.  Check out photos from those final moments here:

Unfortunately – frustratingly - I was denied the chance to deliver my speech to the body before Republicans brought session to an abrupt end.  Still, I think the words I prepared are worth expressing, and wanted to share them with you.  Here’s a copy of my planned remarks:

Jorgensen Floor Speech 3-10-11
If there had been any doubt in the minds of Wisconsinites about the purpose of this legislation – Republicans have removed them.
They have shown their hand.
All along, your goal was not to balance the budget.  Your goal wasn’t to serve the taxpayers.
By passing this bill, without any fiscal elements – by isolating the measure that strips state workers of collective bargaining rights, you’ve shown your true purpose: union busting.
Everyone knows that now.
And, they know… you’re busting unions to serve yourselves, to serve your own political purposes.
My senator… our Speaker’s big brother… said it himself.  And, I quote him from an interview on FOX NEWS… “If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.”
That’s what this is about for Republicans - - elections.
And, in the process of advancing political plans, you have trampled on our democracy and on the people I proudly serve.
If you support this bill today, you will silence those people… workers who’ve given their all to make our communities great.  They teach our kids, clean up our buildings, maintain our roads, run our libraries, take care of us when we are ill, and staff our prisons.
You’re silencing those people… eliminating the rights they’ve won over decades to ensure we ALL have safe workplaces and fair wages.
Grown men have wept, begging me to do what I can to protect them from your plan… your political agenda.
I’ve listened to them and I can leave here today, head held high in the knowledge that I have done my best to serve them.
I can also be proud to know I have not participated in your shameful denial of our democratic system of government.
Your rushed – possibly illegal – votes are an outrage, not only to me but to the people of Wisconsin.
The lengths you’ve gone to, to push your political agenda forward and hurt Wisconsin’s middle class have shocked and deeply saddened me.
But, they’ve also opened my eyes and the eyes of millions of Wisconsinites and those watching across the country and around the world.
We’ve seen your cards… Republicans have shown their hand.
And none of us will soon forget.

Truly, today has been a dark day in Wisconsin’s history – a day in which the elite won and the middle class lost, a day in which the Governor was given more power and nearly 200,000 workers lost critical rights.  And, when working families and the middle class lose out, we all lose; I’ve heard from private business owners who are deeply concerned about the economic impact of these changes.

But, we cannot allow this to be the end of the story.  Judging from the heart of the constituents I met with last night and the enthusiasm of the people I led in a rally on the Capitol Square tonight, this is only beginning.

Assembly Democrats are still exploring our legal options to challenge the many rule violations that have occurred.  We will not allow the people we serve to be silenced!  Read a letter requesting action from Dane County District Attorney here:

However you choose to protest, please remember to do it peacefully.  In the past few days, there have been disturbing reports of threats made on legislators – and violence is completely unacceptable.

If you have any questions, concerns or ideas, please feel free to contact me any time.  I am here to serve you.

Sincerely and in solidarity,

State Representative
37th Assembly District
(608) 266-3790

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