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Wis. Assembly passes anti-union bill

February 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a Republican bill that would strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights.

Minority Democrats stalled the vote by launching a filibuster and offering dozens of amendments, forcing Republicans to defeat each proposal one-by one in a session that stretched on for more than three days straight.

The bill now goes to the Senate. Republicans control that house, too, but it's unclear when a vote may come. Senate Democrats have fled the state to prevent a vote.

Wisconsin state troopers were sent on Thursday to the homes of some of the Senate Democrats who left town rather than vote on a bill taking away collective bargaining rights from public workers.

Fourteen of the lawmakers skipped town eight days ago.

The stepped-up tactic ordered by the Republican head of the Senate came amid reports that at least a few of the missing senators were returning home at night before rejoining their colleagues in Illinois.

Troopers knocked on the doors, but left after finding no one at home.

Police can't arrest absent members, but Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald hoped they would be compelled to come back with an officer at their door.

Meanwhile, the state Assembly appeared close to voting on the union-rights bill after more than two straight days of filibustering.

Democrats, who are in the minority, don't have the votes to stop the bill once the vote occurs.

But even after the bill passes the Assembly, it cannot become law until it also passes the Senate, where action has been stymied by the absence of the Democrats. At least one of them needs to be there in order for Republicans to take up the bill since the GOP is one seat short of having a quorum.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.