UnNews:Seven other state legislatures walk out

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22 February 2011

In Indianapolis, the lights are on but there's virtually no one home.

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana -- Democratic Party legislators here have followed suit with their counterparts in Wisconsin and have fled to Illinois to prevent bills they oppose from coming to a vote.

Early indications are that a total of seven state legislatures, including in Ohio and elsewhere in the Rust Belt, and perhaps southward into the Mildew Belt, may be shut down by the rogue action.

The bills in question include "Right-to-Work" bills that prohibit union-only workplaces, and that stop the state from deducting union dues from paychecks. The typical Democrat legislator has been in office for decades and has never before faced a situation where a labor-backed bill could go down to defeat. Many legislators are psychologically unprepared for such a shock. It is an outcome no longer even mentioned in the orientation session for new members.

The legislators chose Illinois for their sojourn because their party is still in control there--precluding any effort to get them arrested and returned to their respective capitols. Also because Illinois hotels offer premium cable channels such as Starz and Cinemax without an extra nightly charge. It's also easy to phone out for pizza and hookers.

In Wisconsin, the legislators' boycott has blocked the "quorum" of 20 Senators required to pass the state budget that included the controversial provisions. This has put Republican Governor Scott Walker in the awkward position of packaging the exact same measures into a bill that is not the budget.

Rahm Emanuel, likely to become next mayor of Chicago, encouraged the recalcitrant legislators all to come to his city. "We never like to let a crisis go to waste," said the former Obama Chief of Staff. "If Chicago had seven legislatures residing here, I would petition Washington, D.C. for Chicago to enter the union, as seven states. That would give us fourteen U.S. Senators."