Every now and then one of those moments in politics lifts my sails, and lets me know that in spite of everything that seems to be happening for the bad, that there are still some decent folks around doing good.
Such was the case in Madison recently when the Senate Democrats decided to leave the state in order to prevent a vote on the budget repair bill. It was then that Republican State Senator Mike Ellis made a decision to be a good human being versus a partisan politician. We should all applaud his actions.
History is littered with these kinds of stories that I print below from the Wisconsin State Journal, but as we all know they are too rare in contemporary times. So it is with real pleasure I post something good and uplifting that reaffirms my views about the better angels around us.
I hope that the Republican Party and the elected members of the State Legislature can see the humanity in this story, and feel as good about it as I do. If we still have some comity between state senators of differing parties as this story proves, than we may come through this present storm all right.
At 8 a.m. Thursday, the Senate’s Democrats agreed to flee to Illinois, leaving the Senate one member shy of the 20 senators required to vote on budget-related bills.
It was the third pivotal decision – MTI’s call for protest and the Democrats’ continuation of testimony were the others – that blocked rapid passage of the budget-repair bill and accelerated an already historic set of events.
But there was a problem: Sen. Tim Cullen of Janesville didn’t participate in the vote to leave Wisconsin. He was helping the family of former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Bill Bablitch notify the media of Bablitch’s death.
When he heard the plans, Cullen called Senate President Mike Ellis, R-Neenah, to ask if he could enter the Capitol without being detained.
“He said fine, come in. There’s no problem,” Cullen told the State Journal.
Ellis, who runs the Senate, cautioned Cullen to leave by 11 a.m., when the Senate was scheduled to consider the bill and he would be forced to institute a “call of the house” to try to compel the 14 senators back to the chamber.
Cullen said he later got a call from Ellis as he drove south toward Illinois: “Did you get out of here?”
When assured that Cullen was out of Madison, he said Ellis responded, “Good. I just wanted to double check.”
Ellis could not be reached for confirmation on Friday.