MADISON, WI (Spectrum News 1)-- A democratic state representative from Fitchburg has filed a formal complaint with the Dane County District Attorney's Office over December's extraordinary session.
Jimmy Anderson said on Thursday that republican leadership in the assembly violated open meeting laws by not giving him enough time to get to the assembly floor and vote on the “lame-duck” bills that limited powers of the governor and attorney general's office.
“Republican leadership took advantage of the process and of my disability to exclude me from participating in the extraordinary session and denied my constituents under the Wisconsin constitution,” Anderson said in a press conference on Thursday.
The session ran through the night early in December before bills ultimately passed both the senate and assembly before heading to outgoing-governor Scott Walker's desk.
Anderson said he had to go home after waiting all day to debate and vote on the bills for health reasons. He says he cannot stay in his wheelchair. Anderson said that shortly after 4 a.m. he received an email from assembly majority leader Jim Steineke calling for representatives to be on the floor in 10 minutes.
Anderson said his disability requires him to have at least a few hours notice for he and his aide workers to get to the capitol.
“If a court agrees with me the votes cast and the actions taken that night must be considered null and void,” Anderson said.
Steineke said he was not aware of the special accommodations Anderson needed that night.
“Quite simply he never told us that this was an issue and that night even there was no communication regarding his special needs in this situation,” Steineke said.
Steineke said he would have changed the way they called the vote had he known. He says the only communication he had from Anderson was a text message asking about an update on when representatives would be called to the floor so he could let his personal assistant know.
Anderson argued that he's had conversations about the accommodations he needs with assembly leadership before.
“To think that as the individual is disabled I have to sit there and try to explain every little piece of my life... to make sure that they did not properly accommodate me I think is a little ridiculous,” Anderson said.
Steineke still argues it was a communication issue and questioned why the issue wasn't brought up sooner.
“I'm curious about the timing of this,” Steineke said.
However, Anderson said he wasn't going to say anything at first because he didn't want to look “weak.”
“I sat silent for a period of time, but I couldn't be silent anymore, and that's why I'm filing this verified complaint with the district attorney's office,” Anderson said.
The bills cleared the assembly by a 29 vote margin. Anderson said the margin and his vote's impact wasn't his concern, but insuring that elected officials with disabilities are able to fully participate in the legislative process.