Friday, March 18, 2011

Judge places hold on anti-union bill

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi announced today a temporary hold on the anti-union law that was signed last week by Gov. Scott Walker. The hold prevents Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the law, effectively delaying its implementation until certain matters are resolved.

At issue is whether Republicans, when steamrolling the bill through the legislature, violated open meetings laws designed to prevent expedited legislation from passing without the people of the state receiving proper notice. Whether the violation of open meetings laws warrants a complete scrapping of the entire anti-union legislation or not is up for a debate, during a court hearing scheduled for early April.

However, state Attorney General JB Van Hollen disagrees. The office of the Attorney General announced, almost immediately following the announcement of Judge Sumi, that it would appeal the delay, and that the law should be published on or before March 25, the date La Follette said he would do it. Wisconsin law states that legislation signed by the governor goes into effect the day after the Secretary of State publishes it.

But the hold is the right thing to do. It’s unclear if the violation by Republicans invalidates the bill entirely or not, rendering the law ineffective. But what IS clear is that Republicans in our state legislature violated the rule of law when they attempted to pass legislation without a hearing for the public to take part in. Letting that go, no matter what legislation was passed, is a grave problem, and sends the wrong message to the people about what their legislators stand for.

We shouldn’t compromise our principles, our laws, and our openness to the people in order to pass legislation in a speedy, reckless way. It seems, however, that GOP lawmakers are perfectly fine with doing just that.

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