In February, when protests in Madison turned into a three week occupation of the State Capitol, state officials imposed new security measures to protect the staff and lawmakers working in the building.
Since then, there have been sing alongs and the occasional outburst during from the legislative galleries or committee hearing audiences, but nothing on the scale of the boisterous rallies held inside and outside the building this spring.
That”s all about to change.
The legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance is completing its work on the budget and by Saturday is expected to send the two year spending plan to the full legislature for their review.
The controversial changes in government employee unions’ bargain powers remain tied up in court over a procedural dispute, fueling speculation that lawmakers may pass that plan again, either as a new bill or as an amendment to the state budget.
This has rekindled the liberal organizations who organized much of the activities this spring.
With the security measures still in place inside the Capitol, these organizations are planning a series of events outside the building.
For example, Thursday there was a protest over many education policy reforms that are included in the budget.
Thursday night it was a rally in support of small craft brewers and later this weekend organizers are planning to protest outside of a yet-to-be disclosed Madison area business they claim is dodging the payment of taxes.
However, what is sure to get the most attention is the tent city organizers are hoping to erect outside the West Wing of the Capitol.
Organizers say that starting on Saturday night, tents will start showing up on the Capitol grounds as Walkerville returns. They are even petitioning the city for permission to erect the tens on Madison city sidewalks.
Organizers are hoping for thousands to camp out.
WEAC, the state teachers union announced that :
” A’city’ of tents around the Capitol square calling attention to the devastating state budget cuts to education, health care and other programs benefiting Wisconsin’s working families. The action near the Capitol will begin the evening of Saturday, June 4, at 7 p.m. and will continue throughout the state budget process.”
Labor leaders hope the tent city will become the focal point for activities for the next few weeks as the full legislature reviews and votes on the budget.
Good grief. Vagrancy Chic as Madison, Wisconsin becomes Protest City, USA.