Lawmakers' immunity tangles attempt to stop bill - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Lawmakers' immunity tangles attempt to stop bill


MADISON (WKOW) -- The immunity of lawmakers from civil action continues to complicate two attempts to temporarily stop a law severely restricting public employee collective bargaining from taking effect.

Two Dane County court actions identify lawmakers as defendants,  but the state constitution provides them immunity while the legislature is in session.

Judge Maryann Sumi said Thursday she would consider requests for temporary restraining orders during court hearings Friday.   Both requests are in connection to last week's state senate passage of a budget repair bill with the collective bargaining restrictions and the governor's subsequent signing of the bill.

Another defendant in the cases, Secretary of State Doug La Follette does not enjoy similar immunity.  The court actions seek to stop La Follette from publishing the bill and giving it the force of law.

A plaintiff in one of the cases, Dane County executive Kathleen Falk asked Thursday the lawmakers be removed as defendants.

The court action brought by Falk and other officials claims the bill passed without the required number of senators, or quorum, present for legislation having fiscal impacts.  It also claims the process used to advance the legislation violated the state's open meeting and notice requirements.  Republican senate leaders have said quorom was achieved because the law lacks fiscal aspects.

The court action brought by Dane County district attorney Ismael Ozanne also claims open meeting requirements were violated.

Before the bill passed the Senate,  a conference committee of senators and an assembly member was hastily convened with just two hours notice.   Republican senate leaders have said the notice was beyond what is required when the Senate is in special session.

But Ozanne has argued the participation of an assembly member means rules of the senate's special session did not govern the issuance of notice,  and more notice was required under other applicable law.

If Sumi decides there is not enough evidence to temporarily stop the law, La Follette has said it would be published March 25.   The law would take effect one day after publishing.

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