MADISON — The marathon legislative session continues at this hour in Madison.
Lawmakers on both sides say they’re hopeful an end will be in sight.
The legislators FOX 11 spoke with from the Fox Valley area say the most difficult thing has been staying awake and lucid enough to know what they’re discussing on the floor.
Republicans say the delay that’s kept this session going since Thursday morning at 10 a.m. centers around one bill, and the Democrats say they’re not budging.
After dozens of bills, hundreds of cups of coffee, and more than 24 straight hours of continuous debate, legislators on both sides of the aisle say they’re running on empty.
“Quite a bit of coffee. Everybody’s a little punchy,” said Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh.
“Pretty much spent. And it’s difficult, it’s very difficult to concentrate after that long, it’s very difficult to make good decisions,” said Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah. “I think people are your body just wears out. I’m not getting any younger. We’re doing the best we can.”
“We’ve been going since 10 a.m. yesterday, so that’s about 27 hours of straight debate,” said Hintz on Friday afternoon. “The Senate has finished but we’re here trying to make sure we stop some bad bills from happening and hopefully finish up and get out of here.”
Democrats say one of those bills would eliminate the current board members of the Milwaukee Area Technical College. The board would then be reworked to include more private business owners. Democrats say the bill is an attack on public education.
“It’s incredibly unfair to the Milwaukee area. We think we have members on both sides that find flaws with the bill,” said Hintz.
But Republicans say debate shouldn't take this long for a bill which only affects one area of the state.
“There’s not a lot of bickering going on,” said Kaufert. “It’s just simply that they don’t want to see it pass. It’s to the end of the session, delay is the best weapon they got, and they say they’re going to keep us here until they get what they want.”
Democrats say they’ll stay until the job is done.
“I think most people would feel strongly about an issue you’re going to stand up and fight and represent the best interest of your constituents,” said Hintz.
But Republicans say something needs to be done to change the way the legislature gets things done.
“It’s because both sides we delay, we go into caucus for so long, and then we come out at ten o'clock at night or nine o'clock at night and we work through the night. People aren’t sharp,” said Kaufert.
Kaufert says he’d like the legislature to change the way it handles end-of-session debates like these. He says in his more than 20 years in the legislature, the number of all-nighters he’s had has recently started to increase.
As of late Friday afternoon, the Assembly went into informal session, or what can be described as a break.
Staffers in Rep. Hintz’s office say they expect the Assembly to reconvene and continue well on into the night. Some inside the Capitol estimate the session to wrap up around 6 a.m. Saturday.
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