Judge strikes down collective bargaining - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Judge strikes down collective bargaining


MADISON (WKOW) -- A judge has struck down the collective bargaining bill, ruling that the state's open meetings law was violated.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi renders the law void.

The law pushed by Gov. Scott Walker takes away all bargaining rights except over base salary for teachers and most other public workers.

The decision is not the end of the legal fight. The state Supreme Court has scheduled arguments for June 6 to determine whether it will take the same case.

Lawmakers could also pass the bill again in order to nullify open meeting concerns that led to the judge's ruling Thursday.

"The full state budget would be the vehicle,"  Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau)  told WKOW27 News.

"We've got to logistically make some moves to make sure that it's in place because the governor's budget is dependent on that piece."

With the removal of collective bargaining rights,  the bill allows school district and municipal officials to slash labor costs to help absorb the state budget's proposed cuts in state assistance.

In her ruling,  Sumi stated a hastily-convened meeting on the bill by a key legislative committee did not adhere to bare minimum requirements of the Open Meetings statute.

"The evidence...demonstrated a failure to obey even the two-hour notice."

Sumi rejected arguments her actions on the bill amounted to a violation of the principle of the separation of powers of government.   But Fitzgerald disagreed and said it's important the state's high court stops Sumi's rationale from becoming a precedent. 

Assembly minority leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said if republicans resurrect provisions of the measure legislatively,  there will be backlash.

"They've seen at the ballot box,  their agenda's not working."   Barca cited recent democratic victories in an assembly district in La Crosse County, and for executive in Milwaukee County as evidence of voter repudiation of collective bargaining restrictions. 

The bill's original February debate and passage sparked massive protests at the state capitol.  

A drastically smaller group of demonstrators continues to protest daily.

Demonstrator Paul Schmidt said Sumi's decision affirms his beliefs and continues to invigorate the opposition to the proposed bargaining changes. 

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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