MADISON, Wis. (AP) - 2:54 p.m.
The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a rule change allowing for a disabled Democratic lawmaker to phone into meetings, as he requested nearly a year ago.
The affected lawmaker, Rep. Jimmy Anderson, voted against the changes Thursday. He and Democrats objected to other changes they say would limit the power of the minority party to force debate on their bills.
It was approved on a party line 61-35 vote with all Republicans in support and all Democrats against.
Republicans removed some provisions not related to the disability accommodations in an effort to appease Anderson. That was approved on a 60-36 vote, with all Republicans except Rep. Scott Allen in support and all Democrats against.
Republicans are making changes to a rule change proposal following an impassioned speech by a disabled Democratic lawmaker asking them to reconsider the original measure.
Rep. Jimmy Anderson said Thursday he wants to be able to vote for accommodations he requested that allow him to call into meetings he can't make in person. Republicans proposed that, but also included other changes in procedure that Democrats opposed.
Anderson called it petty and a political stunt.
After his speech, Republican Majority Leader Jim Steineke said the resolution would be split into two in an attempt to appease Anderson. The Assembly planned to vote on the measure later Thursday.
Paralyzed Democratic Wisconsin state Rep. Jimmy Anderson is making an impassioned plea to Republicans to make changes to a proposal that includes accommodations he requested so he can vote for it.
The Assembly on Thursday is debating the rule change proposal. It includes allowing disabled lawmakers to call into committee meetings as Anderson requested. But it also includes other changes not related to disabled lawmakers that Democrats oppose.
Anderson recounted being struck by a drunken driver in 2010, which killed his parents and brother and left him paralyzed. He also gave graphic, personal details about how difficult it is for him to get ready to make it into work.
Anderson says, "I can only do this job if you accommodate me." He says Republicans are not showing him the "simple dignity and respect" he deserves to vote for the accommodations he requested without any other rule changes.
The Democratic leader of the Wisconsin Assembly says Republican Speaker Robin Vos is "clearly drunk with power" because of proposed rule changes that make accommodations for disabled lawmaker but also allow for multiple attempts on veto overrides.
The Assembly planned to vote Thursday on the rules.
They include allowing paralyzed Democratic state Rep. Jimmy Anderson to call into committee meetings as he had requested. Republicans initially declined his request.
But they also include other provisions that Democrats say limit their power, including allowing for multiple veto override votes.
Democratic Minority Leader Gordon Hintz calls the GOP proposal "disgusting," a "disgrace" and "just another black eye to Wisconsin."
Republicans had offered to vote separately on the veto override proposal, but Democrats objected.
The Wisconsin Assembly is scheduled to vote on allowing disabled lawmakers to call into committee meetings, a change sought by a paralyzed Democratic state representative.
But the proposal up for a vote Thursday includes a number of other rule changes that Democrats and the disabled Rep. Jimmy Anderson oppose. Anderson says because of those provisions, he will be forced to vote against the accommodations he sought.
Anderson met with Republican Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke to try and reach a compromise. Steineke agreed to one change sought by Anderson, reducing the notice he would have to give when calling into a meeting from two hours to 30 minutes.
Anderson says he wanted to vote separately on that provision, but Steineke refused. Steineke says he offered to break off one rule change Democrats objected to allowing for multiple veto override votes, but Democrats objected.
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