MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin judge has struck down a law taking away nearly all collective-bargaining rights from most state workers.
Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi ruled Thursday that Republican legislators violated Wisconsin's open meetings law during the run up to passage. That renders the law void, she said.
The law pushed by Gov. Scott Walker takes away all bargaining rights except over base salary for teachers and other public workers.
In a 33-page decision issued Thursday, Sumi said she would freeze the legislation because GOP lawmakers on a committee broke the state's open meetings law in passing it March 9, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
"It's what we were looking for," said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, a Democrat.
Ozanne sued to block the law after Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) filed a complaint saying that GOP legislative leaders had not given proper notice in convening a conference committee of lawmakers from both houses to approve Walker's budget-repair bill, the Journal Sentinel said.
Sumi wrote that judges are supposed to apply the law even if their decisions will be "controversial or unpopular," apparently in an effort to stave off what will likely be a GOP outcry. She said Ozanne showed "clear and convincing evidence" that the open meetings law had been violated.
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 also could pass the law again in order to nullify open meeting concerns that led to the judge's ruling Thursday.
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