UPDATE: Protesters line up outside Capitol - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Protesters line up outside Capitol


MADISON (WKOW) – Demonstrators against Governor Scott Walker's proposal to strip bargaining rights from most public workers camped outside the Capitol for hours on Monday waiting to get in.

The Department of Administration said no additional protesters would get into the Capitol until the situation inside was resolved.

DOA said officers inside were working with union representatives and protesters to come to an agreement on rules they will need to follow, including staying in a designated area.

The chief of Capitol Police told WKOW he would have an update, but we waited for hours without hearing any word.

He was in meetings for most of the day.

Protesters did the same thing outside—a lot of waiting. Karen Cook was one of those people waiting to get into the Capitol.

 "Capitol Police have been an unbelievable support, so I know they are in [the Capitol]. The crowd is in there drumming loudly," said Cook, a retired teacher. "They want us to be a part of what they are doing."

Protesters gathered outside the capitol at 8 a.m. when it was scheduled to open.

Security was tight inside. Police let some people in through the King Street entrance if they had permission from a representative.

DOA said legislative staff was able to escort up to eight people into the building for meetings. Anyone who did not have a meeting scheduled with a representative was allowed to ask law enforcement officers to call the legislative office.

The President of Taxpayers of America, Jim Tobin, showed up at the Capitol in support of the budget repair bill.

"This bill will take power away from unions, which is a good thing for the rank and file," Tobin said. "It's a great thing for taxpayers."

Tobin also said the bill is better than the alternative: layoffs.

But he was greatly outnumbered.

Representative Kelda Roys (D-Madison) said she would wait to enter the Capitol with the public.

"I think this is setting a bad precedent for public spaces," Roys said. "Just because you don't like what someone is saying, does not give you the right to prevent them from saying it."

Representative Sondy Pope-Roberts (D-Middleton) said the limited access to the Capitol made it difficult to meet with constituents. 

"How you deny the public access to their representatives is beyond me," she said.

WKOW did not see any Republican representatives at the Capitol but Representative Stephen Nass' office did say this is long overdue. He said the temporary closure to protesters is necessary to address public health and safety issues.

Nass' spokesperson said it has also been nearly impossible to hold legislative hearings in the past few weeks.

Some Democratic representatives held a public hearing on the repair bill until 6 p.m. However, most people were still stuck outside of the Capitol during the hearing.

The representatives said they plan to continue the hearing tomorrow at 8 a.m.

Many protesters are calling the limited access to the Capitol unconstitutional.

The executive director of Defending Wisconsin PAC said he filed a lawsuit against the state of Wisconsin.

Howard Schweber, an associate professor of political science at UW-Madison, said there are two things to look at when determining whether or not it is constitutional.

He said it is questionable if a particular group of people is being singled out and not allowed into the building.

He also said it is important to note that it's happening on a weekday afternoon when it would normally be open to anyone in the public.

However, Schweber added how long the limited access lasts will play a large part in determining whether or not it is unconstitutional. It will become more of an issue if it lasts for days or weeks.


MADISON (WKOW) -- Most protesters in the Capitol are gathering in the rotunda for an impromptu meet and greet.

Some Assembly members are having a public hearing on the budget repair bill. They say they'll be there until 6 p.m. and continue Tuesday at 8 a.m.


MADISON (WKOW) -- The Capitol Police Department says doors to the Capitol building are not reopened yet.

Protesters are being told to line up but haven't been allowed to go inside the Capitol.

It was expected to reopen at 8 a.m. Capitol police have not said the reason for the delay.

Last night, Capitol Police Dept. chief changed his mind and allowed protesters to stay overnight. The protesters were originally asked to leave the building by 4 p.m. Sunday.

The Department of Administration released the following statement on Monday morning.

"When the State Capitol closed at 4:00 p.m. last night, the majority of protestors voluntarily left the building as requested by the Capitol Police.  Of those who remained, all but a few have voluntarily complied with the request of law enforcement to remain in a designed area of the building.  Officers in the building are continuing to work with those few individuals to gain their compliance. 

"No additional protestors will be allowed into the building until this situation is resolved.  Once it is, law enforcement will continue to implement the procedures that were announced this morning.  Under those procedures, protestors will be allowed into the building, but crowd size will be adjusted to accommodate the cleaning crews, the preparation for the Tuesday's joint legislative session and the number of protestors who remained in the building overnight." 

Meanwhile, in an interview Sunday, Gov. Walker isn't backing down, saying that ending bargaining rights is necessary to give Wisconsin the flexibility to get its finances in order. Walker's budget repair bill also forces state workers to cover more of their pension and health care benefits to help close the state's budget deficit.

Democrats and union leaders say the attack on collective bargaining is an attempt to undermine the unions and weaken the Democratic Party base.

The bill passed the Assembly last week and now is before the Senate. With 14 Democratic senators out of state, it's uncertain when a vote from the Senate will come.

Walker says he thinks the Democratic senators will return soon.

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