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May 27, 2011 / J. Shaw

Judge Voids Wisconsin Collective-Bargaining Law

A Wisconsin judge has struck down a law taking away nearly all
collective-bargaining rights from most state workers.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi ruled Thursday that Republican
legislators violated Wisconsin’s open meetings law during the run up to passage.
That renders the law void, she said.

The law pushed by Gov. Scott Walker takes away all bargaining rights except
over base salary for teachers and other public workers.

In a 33-page decision
issued Thursday,  Sumi said she would freeze the legislation because GOP
lawmakers on a committee broke the state’s open meetings law in passing it March
9, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

“It’s what we were looking for,” said Dane County District Attorney Ismael
Ozanne, a Democrat.

Ozanne sued to block the law after Assembly Minority
Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) filed a complaint saying that GOP legislative
leaders had not given proper notice in convening a conference committee of
lawmakers from both houses to approve Walker’s budget-repair bill, the Journal
Sentinel said.

Sumi wrote that judges  are supposed to apply the law even
if their decisions will be “controversial or unpopular,” apparently in an effort
to stave off what will likely be a GOP outcry. She said Ozanne showed “clear and
convincing evidence” that the open meetings law had been violated.
decision is not the end of the legal fight. The state Supreme Court has
scheduled arguments for June 6 to determine whether it will take the same

Lawmakers also could pass the law again in order to nullify open
meeting concerns that led to the judge’s ruling Thursday.


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