FILE - Wisconsin state Rep. Jimmy Anderson

Democratic state Rep. Jimmy Anderson, center.

What at first was a push to allow a disabled Wisconsin lawmaker to call-in to statehouse hearings is now a political brawl. 

Both Republicans and Democrats traded accusations of playing politics as the State Assembly debated how to accommodate state Rep. Jimmy Anderson, D-Fitchburg.

Anderson is in a wheelchair after an accident years ago. He told reporters over the summer that he needs to be able to call in because of his disability. He said the same thing at the Capitol on Thursday. 

"I was just asking to use the damn speaker phones," Anderson said during the debate. "Something the Senate is already doing."

Anderson said he doesn't like the specifics of the rules to accommodate. He also doesn't like how the Republicans who control the Assembly went about it. 

That confused state Rep. Jim Steinke, R-Kaukauna, who said the rules are all designed to help Anderson. 

"There are changes to the committee process allowing him to call in," Steinke said. "And there are things on the floor that allow us to make sure we don't have lengthy delays and overnight sessions."

Democrats are upset that along with those rules, Republicans approved other rules changes that allow the Assembly to vote on a veto override more than once. 

Democratic Assembly Leader Gordon Hintz said that part of the rules changes go beyond the pale. 

"We've never had someone with more disrespect to this institution, to the Democratic process, to government in Wisconsin than the Speaker of the Assembly," Hintz said. "It is a disgrace what has been done and what happened."

Again, Steinke said he's confused. 

"This is your sticking point? For a party that wants to vote on Medicaid expansion 800 times over the course of the last few years," Steinke said on the floor of the Assembly. "You want us to only be able to bring up a veto override once? Are you kidding?"

The Assembly approved the rules changes. It's not clear if Anderson will push for further accommodations. 

Staff Reporter

An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square.