The Senate passed the bill in a minute today. The process was very unusual, and seems to have violated Wisconsin’s open meeting laws, but we;ll see. Democratic staffers received a notice at 4.18 pm that there would be a conference committee meeting at 6pm (24 hours notice is required by law). The conference committee split the bill—so that the collective bargaining part of the bill is split from the budget part and, because the collective bargaining part is not, contrary to what Walker and the Republicans were saying till 4.19, a fiscal bill, it does not require a quorum in the Senate. Normal procedure would have the Senate and Assembly pass a bill, and only then go into conference committee. But this time, having split the bill in conference, the Senate took up the bill and passed it in the space of a minute with just one, Dale Schultz, voting against.
Also violating the open meetings law, the Republicans have called an Assembly Session for 11 am tomorrow. Of course, it is entirely possible that they will begin roll call at 10.05 am, they have, after all, been doing things like that.
News got out around 5pm this evening and by 6pm people were gathering outside the Capitol. The police had declared the Capitol closed and were trying to clear it, but no-one was leaving. The numbers increased progressively and impressively over the evening and about 30 minutes ago, finally, all doors to the Capitol were opened, and the Capitol is now full of people.
I haven’t verified the rumour that the 14 are returning, but it has been going around, and makes sense. The key thing, for the moment, is this: maximize the size of the demonstration at the Capitol at 11 tomorrow (Thursday) morning. If you can get there, please do, if you know anyone within a reasonable distance, call them and ask them to come. I don’t see any prospect of a good end to this in the short term. The aim now is to ensure that the people who have passed this feel the full strength of the movement against them, and that those who are determined to defeat them in the longer run will also see that they have vast resources on their side.