The Los Angeles Times appears to have broken the story, that a Wisconsin judge has blocked the implementation of the Wisconsin legislation against public sector unions. Notice that the challenge to the validity of the law was based on procedural grounds. One reader insisted no court would ever take up that sort of challenge. Funny, this judge looks pretty interested in trying that case.
From the Los Angeles Times:
A Wisconsin judge on Friday issued a temporary restraining order blocking the new state law that curbs collective bargaining rights for most public employees.
Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi …was acting on a request by Dist. Atty. Ismael Ozanne, a Democrat, who had filed a lawsuit contending a legislative committee had violated Wisconsin’s open meetings law by pushing the measure onto the floor. That maneuver was key in unblocking the legislative stalemate and allowing the bill to be signed by Walker on March 11.
Dave Dayen at FireDogLake provides additional commentary:
Sumi stressed that she was not judging on the merits of the legislation, but on the specifics of the open meeting requirements. Wisconsin law requires that public meetings are announced with 24 hours notice, 2 hours if there’s some extenuating circumstance which prevents advanced planning. The meeting in question, the conference committee, actually had less than two hours notice. “I have been shown no rule that overrides the statutory requirement,” Judge Sumi said.
The legislature in Wisconsin could simply re-do the conference committee, under the rules, and pass the bill again. Since they believe it’s a “non-fiscal” bill, quorum requirements would not apply. Alternatively, with the Fab 14 Senators back in Madison, they could just pass the budget repair bill they wanted all along, and have the quorum to do so, unless the Democrats leave the state again.
But this temporary restraining order will stop the implementation scheduled for March 25. And it drags out the process once again, keeping it in the headlines. This is not at all what Scott Walker and the Republicans facing recall elections wanted to see.
In addition, it gives time for other legal cases to be brought. There could be municipal challenges that the law’s changes in pension contributions violates “home rule” provisions that allow the cities and towns to govern their own pensions for their workers.