Minutes after the state Senate’s budget hearing started Thursday, a group of protesters disrupted the proceedings with shouting.
State troopers detained more than a half-dozen protesters, a few of whom locked themselves to portions of the gallery. Members of the Senate tried to continue through the protests by completing roll call and the national anthem, but soon recessed for several hours for pre-planned caucuses. They reconvened about an hour later.
C.J. Ellis, 22, Madison, was arrested along with five other friends for shouting, “Fired up, can’t take it no more,” and “Kill the bill.”
“Basically,” Ellis said, “people were voicing their opinion that the Senate is failing to do their job, and we believe that it’s the people’s duty to speak up for themselves when their legislators aren’t doing what they are elected to do.”
After the Senate reconvened, Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, stood to support the peer income tax but was met by more shouting from a woman in the gallery.
Grothman tried to speak through the shouting, but was forced to wait until it stopped.
“I hope she’s escorted out,” he said as state troopers removed the woman from the gallery.
Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, said he appreciated the protesters’ passion, but would rather see them deliver it in a more positive manner.
“I don’t want anybody to be hurt over any of this stuff,” Erpenbach said. “They’re just delaying the Senate from getting to the floor and dealing with the budget as a whole.”
Senate President Michael Ellis, R-Neenah, chastised demonstrators for disrupting the proceedings, telling them Wisconsin’s lawmakers are “good people.”