Collective Bargaining Status Still Unclear After Legislative Reference Bureau Action
WISCONSINREPORT.COM (03/26/2011) - The publication of the Wisconsin Anti-Collective Bargaining Law by the Legislative Reference Bureau Friday, March 25th, may not have legally activated the law because it was not done in the traditional way, and it might be against the intent of the restraining order issued by a judge. The Dane County District Attorney will present the case on behalf of the People of Wisconsin Tuesday morning, March 29, 2011, at 8:30 a.m.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael R. Ozanne says he was surprised to "learn that, despite Judge Maryann Sumiís temporary restraining order, an effort was undertaken to try and make 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 (Governor Walkerís Budget Repair Bill) effective."
"I was even more surprised to learn that the impetus for an attempt at publication, contrary to Judge Sumiís order, came from a named defendant in the lawsuit," Dane County DA Ozanne added.
Judge Sumi issued the temporary restraining order enjoining publication of the bill on March 18, 2011, after the bill had been passed by Republicans under what many have thought to be less than clear circumstances, at the direction of newly elected Republican Governor Scott Walker.
"I believe that, pursuant to Judge Sumiís order, the status quo is preserved," Dane County District Attorney Ozanne said.
However, the situation is far from over, according to comments made by the Dane County District Attorney.
"This case, including the legal significance of todayís actions, should be resolved in a court of law. I look forward to presenting our case on behalf of the People of the State of Wisconsin Tuesday morning, March 29, 2011, at 8:30 a.m.," DA Ozanne said.
Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Department of Justice, headed by Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, has received a number of inquiries relating to the publication of Act 10.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice statement Friday on the matter:
"As noted in the published act, section 35.095 imposes a mandatory, ministerial duty on the legislative reference bureau to "publish every act ... Within 10 working days of enactment." In the same statute, the date of enactment is defined as the approval of a bill by the governor," according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
"No action by the Secretary of State is required by this section for the legislative reference bureau to publish an Act. The Secretary of State did not direct the publication of Act 10 by the legislative reference bureau and he is not in violation of the TRO issued by the Dane County Circuit Court," the DOJ statement continues.
A spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Justice indicates the DOJ will evaluate how the lawful publication of Act 10 affects pending litigation. The department is reserving the right to make further statements as further developments in the case require.
Wisconsin Senate Democratic Leader Mark Miller said "Republicans subverted open government voting to strip workers of their rights", when he learned of "the latest Republican efforts to enact union busting legislation".
"Late on a Friday afternoon, Senate Republicans attempted an end run around the court order preventing enactment of their union busting bill until the questions about their violations of the state open meetings laws could be considered by the judicial branch," Senator Miller said.
"Their actions continue to show a disregard not only for people's rights and open government, but also the authority of the courts," Senate Minority Leader Miller said.
The leader of the Democrats in the Assembly has a similar viewpoint on the latest development.
"In conversations this evening (Friday) with Legislative Council attorneys, I was informed that it is their opinion, as well as the opinion of the Legislative Reference Bureau director, that Act 10 will not take effect based on the actions taken by the Legislative Reference Bureau late this afternoon (Friday)," Wisconsin Assembly Representative Peter Barca said.
"This bill has been under a cloud of suspicion since day one. Todayís actions and statements are only perpetuating the problem. The people of Wisconsin expected that, because of the court injunction, Act 10 will not be able to take effect," Barca explained.
"Official publication by the Secretary of State is required for this act to go into effect. The Secretary of State, the only Constitutional officer with the power to publish law, is prohibited by court order from publishing this Act," Barca said.
"I can only hope that the confusion resulting from todayís (Friday's) actions and comments does not harm the many communities and people who will be impacted if this does become law. The statements by the administration and legislative leaders only add to the confusion. We can only hope that their misstatements were not intentional or malicious," Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca said.
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