Capitol access legal hearing continues
MADISON -- Testimony will continue today in a legal challenge that accuses the state of illegally stifling public access to the Wisconsin Capitol. A Dane County Judge heard drastically different descriptions of the situation at a lengthy hearing ...
MADISON -- Testimony will continue today in a legal challenge that accuses the state of illegally stifling public access to the Wisconsin Capitol.
A Dane County Judge heard drastically different descriptions of the situation at a lengthy hearing Wednesday. Unions bringing the case called person after person who had in some way been denied access to the Capitol.
Racine Assembly Democrat Cory Mason said the new restrictions made it hard to meet with constituents and even kept his office intern from attending a public hearing. He said it felt like being in middle school and trying to get a bathroom pass to get around the building.
Attorney Gregory Fumelle testified that he tried to get in the Capitol and was asked by an officer what his business was. After he said that he had no specific business, he wasn't allowed inside.
Madison teacher David Wasserman did get into the building to watch the governor's budget address Tuesday. When the woman next to him in the Assembly gallery booed during the speech, Wasserman was ejected along with about 20 others.
"The whole time that I was being walked through the Capitol, I kept repeating, what have I done? I've done nothing wrong," said Wasserman.
Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said that at its peak, there had been 400 police at the Capitol. He said the cost for all the extra law enforcement could run as much as $5-million for February alone.
Huebsch said access was not altogether cut off, but blamed restrictions on a group of protestors who have camped out for weeks in the rotunda.
"We are not equipped at the state Capitol nor with any state office building to be a hotel," said Huebsch.
Huebsch said once demonstrators started observing the building's regular hours, access would start to return to normal. A Dane County Judge could rule on the policy as soon as today.