Dane Co. D.A. files lawsuit against collective bargaining law - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Dane Co. D.A. files lawsuit against collective bargaining law


MADISON (WKOW) -- The court battle seems to be just beginning when it comes to the budget repair law.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne filed an official complaint Wednesday afternoon, alleging state senators violated the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law when they convened a committee last week.

In that committee, Senate Republicans announced they'd stripped all fiscal elements from the governor's budget repair bill, and voted to pass the measure.

The District Attorney's complaint says Republicans did not give the notice required by law for the meeting. The complaint states the "public notice of said meeting was not given 24 hours in advance of said meeting... No good cause existed such that the notice of 24 hours was impossible or impractical, in violation of Sec. 19.84 (3) of the Wisconsin Statutes."

Democrats have said the complaint came out less than two hours before the committee convened at 6:00 PM that evening.

Ozanne said, "We're looking at the process... This is about the rules the legislators govern themselves by. This is not looking at the legislation itself."

A spokesperson for Senate Majority leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a statement, "Every step of the way, we made sure we were following the law perfectly, and we have no doubt that the courts will agree. We are excited to be able to move on to our agenda of creating jobs, growing the economy and balancing the state budget."

Spokesman Andrew Welhouse explained in an email that under Senate Rule 93, while in special session, no advance notice is required other than posting on the legislative bulleting board.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca was the only Democrat in that quickly-called committee meeting. He said in a statement, "This so-called budget repair bill has been under a dark cloud from the start, not only for its trampling of worker rights, but also for the way the public has been shut out of this debate time after time. I am grateful that Dane County District Attorney Ozanne did a thorough investigation and found that the Republicans violated the open meetings law and requested that the actions of the Conference Committee be voided and the participants fined. This complaint is an appropriate action during the Sunshine Week celebration of government transparency."

Ozanne is asking for an injunction blocking the Secretary of State from publishing the law. That is set to be published March 25, and go into effect March 26.

The complaint also asks that the budget repair law be declared void "as the product of voidable actions by the Joint Committee of Conference."

In addition, it asks that the defendants (including Senator Scott Fitzgerald, Representative Jeff Fitzgerald, Senator Michael Ellis, and Representative Scott Suder) individually pay $300.00 each, plus court costs and attorney fees.

No word yet when the lawsuit will be heard by a judge.


MADISON (WKOW) -- Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne filed a lawsuit accusing Republicans of violating the open meetings law when they made changes to Gov. Scott Walker's plan to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public employees.

Ozanne says in the suit that Republicans didn't give enough public notice when they convened for a committee last week.  Ozanne is seeking an injunction to block the secretary of state from publishing the law and a ruling that the law is void.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Juneau Republican, says Fitzgerald is completely confident the law was followed.

Secretary of State Doug La Follette has said he will publish the law Friday, March 25.  It will take effect the following day.

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