Judge: Wisconsin's Anti-Union Bill Not In Effect

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 MADISON, Wisc. (CN) - Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi ruled this morning that Wisconsin's controversial "Budget Repair Bill" has not been published, and is not in effect - though the governor apparently began enforcing it four days ago. Judge Sumi amended her restraining order that prohibited the Wisconsin secretary of state from publishing the law after the state's Republican majority did an end-around her first order by having the Legislative Reference Bureau publish it.

The bill prohibits public employees from collectively bargaining for anything other than salary, and imposes other obstacles to unionization, such as requiring yearly votes for workers to keep their union.

When Democratic lawmakers fled the state to deny Republicans a quorum, the state's Republican majority did its first end-around by amending the bill to declare that it was not a fiscal bill, and so did not require a quorum.

Dane County District Attorney then sued the state, saying the legislative trick violated Wisconsin's open-meetings law.

Judge Sumi enjoined the secretary of state from publishing the bill - the final step necessary for it to take effect - so the Republican majority pulled a second end-around by having the Legislative Reference Bureau publish it late last week.

Gov. Scott Walker and his party declared that that made the law effective last Saturday.

But Judge Sumi said this morning that it ain't so: "Based on the briefs of counsel, the uncontroverted testimony, and the evidence received at the March 29, 2011 evidentiary hearing, it is hereby DECLARED that 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 has not been published within the meaning of Wis. Stats. 991.11, 35.095(1)(b) and 35.095(3)(b), and is therefore not in effect."

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Gov. Walker stopped collecting dues for state unions and began charging state employees more for their health care and pensions on Sunday.

It appears that will have to stop, for now.

Another hearing is scheduled for Friday.

The bill also faces a constitutional challenge, in a separate complaint.

Here is a link to Courthouse News' previous story on the bill, with more links to legal documents in the cases.