It happened quickly, so in case you missed it, here is what happened tonight.
At 6pm there was a meeting of a conference committee (made up of members from both the Senate & Assembly) and they took a vote on a revised version of Governor Walker's budget repair bill. The committee passed the revised version on a party-line vote.
The bill was revised to take out any items that were "fiscal" items. Doing this allows the Senate to vote on the bill without any Democrats. The Senate needs the Democrats to vote on any fiscal items, but the Democrats remain in Illinois.
The Senate then took up the revised bill and quickly passed it 18-1. Dale Schultz was the only Republican to vote against the bill.
Tomorrow, the Assembly is scheduled to take up the bill. They already passed the earlier version of this bill, so they should still have the votes. The question is whether or not Democrats can stall an actual vote.
Protesters have entered the Capitol, and I have seen some cell phone video of protesters on the streets of Madison.
As I said, they took the fiscal items out of the bill. What they didn't take out was the end to collective bargaining for public employees. This is the portion of the bill that has been the source of most (if not all) of the anger over the bill. If the Assembly passes this bill tomorrow, the Governor will sign it and then collective bargaining by public employees will be prohibited, except (I believe) with respect to wages as outlined in the Governor's original proposal.
Tomorrow, you will likely hear that this was a "nuclear option" and that the bill was "rammed through." The bill has been out for close to a month, and was debated in the Assembly for around 60 hours, so I don't believe you can make a case that is was "rammed through."
So was what the GOP did legal? With respect to passing the bill without the fiscal items, the answer is probably yes. If I recall correctly (I couldn't find a link quickly) during the original analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, they noted the collective bargaining provisions were non-fiscal items.
During the conference committee meeting Rep. Barca raised the question of whether or not the committee meeting followed Wisconsin law with regard to open meetings. Specifically, that not enough time had passed since the meeting was announced to the public. We will have to wait and see what happens on this particular point. This could potentially be something that prevents a vote in the Assembly tomorrow.
What will happen next is anybody's guess.