On Friday, March 16, 2012 at 8am, twenty-two hours into the WI State Assembly’s final day of one of the most divisive and partisan legislative sessions in Wisconsin history, Rep Kevin Petersen (R-Waupaca) rose to speak under Assembly Rule 56 which states, “Any member who desires to speak in debate or submit any matter to the assembly shall rise in his or her assigned place and respectfully address the presiding officer.”
The matter Petersen submitted was the request that Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) and Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) provide legislators, their staff, the Clerk, the Sargent at Arms and their staff members with breakfast.
As Fitzgerald and Barca met to discuss the request, Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha) ruled the request out of order whereupon Rep Fred Clark (D-Baraboo) appealed the ruling. The decision of the chair was rejected in a bi-partisan vote of 68-19.
The breakfast break served as the calm before the storm of hours of debate on a controversial bill that would completely transform the governing board of Milwaukee Area Technical College.