The Associated Press February 17, 2011, 3:01PM ET

Senator: Missing Wis. lawmakers left the state

A Wisconsin state senator says the 14 Democratic lawmakers who are boycotting a vote on a controversial anti-union bill have left the state.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach says the group wants to force negotiations over the Republican-backed bill, which would strip most public employees of their collective-bargaining rights.

Erpenbach told The Associated Press that he and his colleagues had left Wisconsin, but he would not say where.

He said the plan is to slow down the bill because it's "tearing the state apart."

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.


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