Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his allies have published Walker’s controversial bill limiting the rights of public unions to collectively bargain, in spite of a state judge’s restraining order against publication of the bill by Secretary of State Doug LaFollette. Supporters of the bill have appealed Judge Maryann Sumi’s stay against the bill’s publication, but on Saturday, they bypassed the judge’s ruling by having the bill published by a different agency, Wisconsin’s Legislative Reference Bureau. Typically, publication is the final step before a bill becomes a law.
State statutes require the secretary of state to set a publication date no more than 10 working days after a law is signed, while a related statute requires the Reference Bureau to publish legislation within 10 days of enactment.
Bill Cosh, a state Department of Justice spokesman, said no action by the secretary of state was required for the Reference Bureau to act, adding that La Follette did not direct the publication of the law and thus is not in violation of a temporary court order barring him from publishing the law.
Supporters of the law state that it will go into effect on Saturday. However, opponents of the law believe that the questionable legality of the Republicans’ maneuver will be what ultimately dooms the bill to failure. At issue is whether or not this action constitutes a true publication of the bill, as well as whether Judge Sumi had the authority to issue a stay against the bill.
State District Attorney Ismael Ozanne has challenged Walker’s controversial bill on the grounds that it violates the state’s open meetings law. Madison lawyer Lester Pines says that this tactic by the state Republicans will immediately open up the bill to legal challenges by groups who are opposed to it, groups that would otherwise have been forced to wait for the law to go into effect. The Journal quotes Pines as saying that this turn of events will set in motion “a tsunami of litigation”.
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