Judge continues restraining order against budget repair bill - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Judge continues restraining order against budget repair bill


MADISON (WKOW ) -- Dane County judge Maryann Sumi Friday continued to temporarily halt the progress of Governor Walker's controversial collective bargaining bill.

Sumi heard testimony about the hastily convened legislative conference committee that preceded the Senate's passage of the bill last month.

Sumi said the legislative immunity of several lawmaker defendants, including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald needs to be addressed to allow a continued hearing on whether the bill will still be held in limbo.


Following Friday's court hearing Assistant Attorney General Maria Lazar said she will consult with Fitzgerald and her other lawmaker clients about the possibility of the lawmakers waiving immunity, but said, no future action has been determined.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said the lawmakers should consider a simple remedy - doing over the legislation.   Fitzgerald and other republicans have previously rejected that option.


With the bill still the subject of a temporary restraining order,  no funds will be deducted from state worker pay checks for pension and health insurance, as the bill requires.



MADISON (WKOW) -- The state senate chief clerk testified Friday there was no emergency reason for a key legislative committee to convene without giving the public 24 hour notice before the committee advanced Governor Walker's collective bargaining bill.


Senate chief clerk Rob Marchant testified during a hearing on whether a temporary restraining order halting progress of the bill should be expanded.


Under questioning from Dane County district attorney Ismael Ozanne, Marchant agreed with Ozanne's proposition joint assembly-senate rules governing the key committee meeting do not conflict with the 24 hour notice requirement contained in the state's open meetings law.


Chief clerk staff member Rachel Veum testified she posted notice of the meeting at 4:18 p.m. March 9, less than two hours before the committee's convening.


Marchant testified he counseled Sen. Scott Fitzgerald on the grounds for convening the meeting with less than twenty four hour notice. Marchant testified the customs of the senate are allowed to be relied upon, and they allow a briefer notice.


Robert Jambois, attorney for defendant Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) questioned Marchant about a meeting two days before the committee convened. The meeting included Republican senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald, Republican assembly speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, Walker's deputy chief of staff and others. Marchant testified it was the first time the possibility of convening a conference committee had been broached with him.


"Did they say they would try to slip this committee meeting in?" Jambois asked to sustained objections from assistant attorney general Maria Lazar.


Jambois asked Marchant repeatedly as to whether Sen. Fitzgerald gave any reason for calling for a conference committee without giving the public 24 hours notice.


"Not that I recall," testified Marchant.


Barca's chief of staff Richard Judge testified the names of 2,967 were compiled,  representing people who were unable to be accommodated by the committee room's twenty person seating capacity for the general public.


Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi ruled late last month the hasty convening of the key committee likely violated the open meetings statute and provided her grounds to temporarily halt the bill.


Assistant attorneys general argued Sumi does not have the legal authority to halt the bill, even if rules were violated, due to the separation of powers between branches of government. They also said the civil action resulting in the temporary halt was unlawful because lawmakers defendants in the case enjoy immunity from civil accountability while the legislature is session.

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