Work on the $17-Billion state budget resumes this morning at the State Capitol with a 6pm deadline looming. It nearly unraveled as members of the House staged two separate protests. Republicans have routinely voted against the formality of approving the House Journal since clashing with Democrats on the tobacco settlement bill. But when more than a dozen Democrats, angered that no action has been taken on the Equal Rights Amendment, decided NOT to vote on approval, the day’s work was delayed and the previous day’s work threatened. Republican Whip Charlie Shields moves to reconsider the vote. Democrat Gracia Backer asks if Republicans are done posturing this session. Shields responds by telling Backer he has extended the hand of friendship and she whacked it off. Still, Shields sticks with his motion to reconsider and remove, as he puts it, “the legal cloud over the budget”. The Journal won approval on the second vote. Work on the budget continued. More work remains as the deadline draws near.