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MADISON — A Wisconsin state Senate committee passed a bill Tuesday that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls, approving it over the objection of a Democratic state senator who wasn't allowed to vote. Sen. Jon Erpenbach, one of the 14 Senate Democrats who skipped town last week rather than vote on a bill taking away collective bargaining rights for public employees, joined the committee meeting by phone. He and other Democrats have been participating and voting in committee meetings by phone ever since they left on Thursday.
Republican Sen. Mary Lazich, chairwoman of the Elections Committee, refused to let Erpenbach ask questions or vote on the voter ID proposal. "Seriously? I'm not going to be able to ask my questions?" a surprised Erpenbach said over the speakerphone set up for the meeting. Lazich repeatedly asked Erpenbach where he was and whether he was on his way to the Capitol. "You can come in at any moment," she said. "We want you present. We want you to have a full discussion."
She accused Erpenbach of an ethical violation for not being in Madison to take up the union bill that has led to eight straight days of protests in which demonstrators have filled the halls of the Capitol, noisily banging on drums, chanting and displaying signs calling for the proposal to be killed.