Posted Friday, Feb. 25, 2011, at 2:02 AM
MADISON, Wisc. -- The debate in the Assembly appeared to be a few hours away from ending when Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer interrupted their speeches and called the vote. It was gaveled in with lightning speed, less than the standard 15 seconds -- it was so fast that 28 members did not even vote on it, some out of protest but some failing to reach their buzzers. There were 51 ayes and 17 nays, and the nays included Republicans Dean Kaufert, Lee Nerison, Richard Spanbauer, and Travis Tranel.
Democrats exploded as soon as the vote was called, yelling "Cowards!" and "Shame!" at the Republicans filing out of the room.
The bill moves to the Senate, which cannot take it up until and unless 14 missing Democrats return. In a short speech to protesters, Democratic Rep. Cory Mason joked that he was "never so happy that we have two chambers."