A Dane County judge today struck down the controversial budget repair bill that eliminated most collective bargaining for most public employees.
Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi released a 33-page decision Thursday nullifying Act 10, which prompted thousands of protestors to crowd the state Capitol for weeks.
But the decision, posted on The Wheeler Report, will not end the litigation. The state Supreme Court has been asked to consider the case, and state legislators are preparing to re-insert the collective bargaining changes in the state's 2011-13 budget.
At least one legislator — Independent Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer of Manitowoc — is trying to add police, fire and other public safety workers to the collective bargaining changes. They were exempted from the bill proposed by Gov. Scott Walker and approved by Republican senators while their Democratic colleagues fled to Illinois to stall action on the bill.
JSOnline.com has this report on Sumi's decision.
Sumi ruled that state lawmakers violated the state's Open Meetings laws by failing to properly notice the March 9 vote in the Capitol.
She noted she was not ruling on the merits of the bill. "It is not this court's business to determine whether 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 is good public policy or bad public policy; that is the business of the Legislature.
"It is the court's responsibility, however, to apply the rules of law to the facts before it," Sumi wrote.
Opponents argued they were not obligated to follow laws that meetings and votes must have a minimum of two hours public notice.
WisPolitics.com quotes Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and state Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch as saying they would continue to push for the reforms and were confident they will be implemented.
"We will continue to pursue legal action with the Supreme Court in an effort to protect middle class jobs and middle class taxpayers,” Huebsch said in a statement.
WEAC President Mary Bell praised Sumi's ruling and urged lawmakers not to re-vote on the changes, which limited union negotiations to only wages capped by the consumer price index.
"It is not in the best interest of students, schools or Wisconsin’s future to take the voices of educators out of our classrooms," Bell said. "We’ve seen how this issue has polarized our state.”