Channel 3000 reports from Madison~
No Democrats were present at the start of the state Senate session shortly after 11 a.m. to vote on a bill stripping public employees of collective bargaining rights. The Democratic members are currently out of state, WISC-TV reported.
The absent lawmakers have been found in a Rockford, Ill., hotel on Thursday, according to a Rockford TV station. WTVO-TV has interviewed some of the legislators.
The Senate's Republican majority sought to convene on Thursday to pass Gov. Scott Walker's union bill. The Democrats' move out of state means the Senate can't act at this point.
Now, police officers are looking for the lawmakers who were ordered to attend a vote. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said law enforcement officers were searching for them.
Earlier Thursday, state Sen. Jon Erpenbach said the group of 14 Democratic lawmakers are boycotting the vote. They said they want to force negotiations over the Republican-backed bill. Erpenbach told The Associated Press that he and his colleagues had left Wisconsin, but he wouldn't say where.
He said the plan is to slow down the bill because it's "tearing the state apart."
"We're not in Wisconsin. We decided this morning in a caucus and all 14 of us were unanimous in the decision, that in order to really focus down, this was the only option we had," Erpenbach said.
Senate Republicans can't vote on the bill unless at least one Democrat is present. Police could be dispatched to retrieve them, but it was unclear if they would have the authority to cross state lines.
Walker issued a press release on Thursday afternoon calling on the missing lawmakers to return.
Run away, the killer bunny has returned!