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The controversial collective bargaining law that plunged Wisconsin into weeks of intense protests has been struck down by a judge.
Back in February, Governor Scott Walker introduced a Budget Repair Bill that contained provisions stripping most public sector workers of the right to collectively bargain. But Senate Democrats opposed the measure and ended up fleeing the state in order to deny Republicans the special quorum necessary to pass fiscal legislation. With neither side willing to compromise, the legislative proceedings seemed to be at a standstill until, on March 9, the Republican leadership hastily convened a meeting of the Joint Committee of Conference. The committee stripped the fiscal provisions from the bill, which meant that the collective bargaining provisions could be passed even without the presence of the Senate Democrats.
Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi ruled that the legislature violated the state’s Open Meetings Law by failing to give at least two hours’ notice of the meeting.
“The legislators were understandably frustrated by the stalemate existing on March 9, but that does not justify jettisoning compliance with the Open Meetings Law in an attempt to move the Budget Repair Bill to final action,” Sumi wrote in her decision.
“It is not the court’s business to determine whether 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 is good public policy or bad public policy,” she continued. “It is this court’s responsibility, however, to apply the rule of law to the facts before it.”
Sumi’s decision is almost certain to be appealed to the state Supreme Court. The high court is already scheduled to hear oral arguments on June 6 relating to an earlier challenge to her authority.