Judge rules to stop implementation of budget repair law - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Judge rules to stop implementation of budget repair law

Secretary of State Doug La Follette Secretary of State Doug La Follette

MADISON (WKOW) -- Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi is halting further implementation of Gov. Walker's law taking away most collective bargaining rights from public employees.

Sumi said Tuesday that her earlier restraining order saying the law shouldn't be enacted had been ignored or misinterpreted.

The Legislative Reference Bureau posted the law on a legislative website Friday, leading Gov. Scott Walker's administration to declare the law was in effect.

Sumi revised her original March temporary restraining order blocking the secretary of state from publishing the law, which is typically the last step before it becomes effective.

Department of Justice spokesman Bill Cosh says, "As we told the Court, we have serious concerns about the court's decision to continue these proceedings under the current set of circumstances. We'll take the time between now and the next scheduled hearing to decide what our best options are to protect the State's interests, as is the Department of Justice's statutory duty."

The Department of Administration secretary Mike Huebsch issued the following statement on the judge's ruling, "The Department of Administration is still evaluating the judge's order. We will continue to confer with our legal counsel and have more information about how to move forward in the near future."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


MADISON (WKOW) --  Secretary of State Doug La Follette said he rescinded the publication date of Governor Walker's controversial collective bargaining bill, and said the bill's progression into law through another publication route was not prudent.

La Follette's remarks came after a hearing into a judge's restraining order against the bill progressing -- a hearing focused so far solely on Friday's publication of the bill by the legislative reference bureau. Publication is the last step in the process of a bill having the power of law.

During court testimony, LRB chief Steve Miller testified he had an independent duty to publish. But Miller also testified he believed the separate act of the secretary of state to place the published bill in the state's official newspaper was needed to give it the force of law.

Bob Jambois, representing Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), pressed Miller whether Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald (RJuneau) insisted on Miller's publication of the law. Miller said the publication decision was his own.

As a result of the LRB's publication, Walker administration officials have begun the process of withdrawing funds from the pay checks of thousands of state workers for increased pension and health insurance premium contributions, and stopping union dues from being withdrawn.

Judge Maryann Sumi, who earlier this month approved the restraining order after ruling lawmakers likely violated terms of the Open Meetings law in hastily convening a key legislative committee meeting on the bill, directed La Follette be appointed special counsel. Sumi said La Follette's interests have diverged from those of his previous counsel, assistant attorneys general. 

Sumi refused to allow La Follette to represent himself. La Follette, a democrat, said he was disappointed he was unable to comment on the workings of his office in handling bills until a later time, and said time was of the essence with the bill's provisions being acted on by administration officials.

During Miller's testimony, it was also established Miller and other LRB officials met with Fitzgerald for about an hour and discussed LRB's publication of the bill. Miller also testified he consulted with deputy attorney general Kevin St. John after the meeting. Miller testified St. John reinforced LRB's duty to publish and warned of possible legal consequences if it did not. 

Miller testified Fitzgerald suggested he call St. John. 

While Democrats La Follette and Barca are defendants in the restraining order, co-defendants Fitzgerald and other Republican lawmakers were not present, as they enjoy immunity from this civil action while the legislature is in session. Barca and Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona) have waited their immunity.

Assistant attorney general Mary Lazar argued Fitzgerald and the other Republican defendants were denied their constitutional rights by having the hearing take place while they were immune from the proceedings and unable to confront their accusers.

Tony Galli will have updates from the hearing online and on the go, as well as on 27 News at 5 & 6.


MADISON (WKOW) -- A Dane County judge Tuesday ruled Secretary of State Doug La Follette is entitled to special counsel in the case against him and others over how Governor Walker's collective bargaining bill proceeded.

Judge Maryann Sumi said the interests of La Follette and the state justice department attorneys representing him have diverged. La Follette rescinded a date of publication for the bill, but the attorney general argued he had no power to rescind the date. Publication is the final step in giving a bill the power of law.

La Follette asked Sumi if he could represent himself, arguing his input into the court record of a hearing Tuesday was important. Sumi denied the request, stating special counsel would have to be appointed through normal procedures, and La Follette's counsel would have ability at a later time to cross examine witnesses.

Tuesday's hearing addressed Sumi's temporary restraining order blocking the progression of the collective bargaining bill. Last Friday, the legislative reference bureau published the bill,   and Walker administration officials have acted on the law, beginning the process of withdrawing funds from state workers' pay checks for contributions to their pensions and health insurance premiums, and eliminating withdrawals for union dues. The LRB's action is also the subject of Tuesday's hearing.

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