A Wisconsin judge has halted enforcement of the state’s new law curtailing the bargaining power of its public employee unions, the first defeat for the new Republican majority controlling the legislature and governor’s mansion.
Dane County Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi on March 30 ruled that the law was not published according to state statues, and barred state officials from enforcing it. Despite the order, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and the state’s Republican legislators have vowed to push forward on the law they passed last month.
“Based on the briefs of counsel, the uncontroverted testimony, and the evidence received at the March 29, 2011, evidentiary hearing,” Sumi wrote in her decision, the measure “has not been published within the meaning of , and is therefore not in effect.
At issue is whether the Republican legislature complied with the state’s open meetings law when it held a March 9 meeting with less than two hours notice.
According to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin Department of Justice officials defended the action, saying that lawmakers are immune from civil process and the court cannot interfere with legislative actions, but Sumi denied those objections.
Republican legislators said they acted lawfully in enacting the law and that Sumi’s ruling won’t stop the state from enacting the law.
“In my mind it’s not a matter of if the law goes back , it’s just a matter of when,” Walker told The Asbury Park Press.
Democrats on the other hand, said it is high time that someone stood up to the state’s Republicans. The GOP holds a voting majority in both chambers of the legislature and the state’s governor is a Republican.
“Mr. Walker and Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch chose to ignore her warning that they were jeopardizing the finances and stability of state government, apparently believing they are above the law, Democratic Rep. Peter Barca told the Press. “This morning, with her added order, she has taken away their last excuse.”
On April 1, Judge Sumi extended the hold on the new law’s application for at least a two months period in order to have additional arguments presented on the issue.