Lawmakers reach no deal on changing rules

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican and Democratic leaders emerged from a closed-door meeting Tuesday without reaching agreement on how to cut down on late-night debate in the state Assembly.

Leaders from both parties met in secret to discuss proposals put forward by Republican Speaker Robin Vos. He and Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca said after the meeting they were still negotiating and would talk more Wednesday.

"I would say we're not very close yet," Barca said. "You might say we're worlds apart."

Both Barca and Vos said they are committed to finding a way to have the Assembly conduct more of its business during regular business hours and not late into the night or in the early morning hours.

"The goal is to try and come together," Barca said.

Republicans hold a 59-39 majority in the Assembly and can pass whatever rules they want. Vos said that vote would still occur Thursday.

Vos said another change they are pursuing is to require people on the floor of the Assembly to wear a suit coat, a change Barca said some Democrats would object to. That is currently the requirement in the Senate, but it is not consistently enforced.

Tuesday's meeting included eight members of the 12-member Assembly Rules Committee, which constitutes a quorum. After reporters asked to be let into the meeting in the speaker's office, Barca and Vos came into a hallway and denied they were violating the open meetings law.

Vos said the meeting was legal because the rule changes they were discussing would go to the full Assembly for a vote and not to the Rules Committee.

Vos' spokeswoman Kit Beyer said after talking with the attorney general's office they were confident there was no violation of the open meetings law. She would not say what the attorney general's office said.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Wisconsin’s population totaled 5,686,986, a 6.0% increase over the 2000 U.S. Census count of 5,363,715. (Source: Wisconsin Blue Book)
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