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Judge Blocks End Run|in Wisconsin Labor Law

MADISON, Wisc. (CN) - A Dane County judge issued another injunction Tuesday enjoining Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the controversial anti-union bill.

In yet another twist to the political saga in Wisconsin, Judge Maryann Sumi put the passage of the so-called Budget Repair Bill on hold. She referred to her original injunction and told the courtroom: "Apparently that language was either misunderstood or ignored, but what I said was the further implementation of Act 10 was enjoined. That is what I now want to make crystal clear."

The publication is halted while Sumi hears testimony about allegations made by Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne that the largely Republican Joint Committee of Conference violated Wisconsin's Open Meetings Law. Ozanne said the bill was rushed through with inadequate notice in a procedural trick.

A three-judge panel of the Fourth District Court of Appeals also favored Wisconsin Democrats in a separate ruling on Tuesday, rejecting Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's attempt to withdraw an appeal he filed to block the original temporary injunction. "We conclude that it appears we lack such authority and we deny the motion," the unsigned opinion states.

Van Hollen filed the motion on the grounds that his petition was "rendered moot by actions taken by the Legislative Reference Bureau on March 25, 2011," referring to the publication of the bill.

The appeals panel did not see it that way, however. "It is apparent that the Attorney General does not merely request an order permitting the withdrawal of his petition; he seeks a ruling on an entirely new question: whether an action by the Legislative Reference Bureau on Friday, March 25, 2011, means that the Act, which is the subject of the injunction, has become law."

The appeal has been certified to the Supreme Court, and Van Hollen will have to direct his motions there, the decision states.

Wisconsin Act 10 prohibits public unions from collectively bargaining for anything other than wages. Many Wisconsin Democrats say this is just the first step in Walker's plan to "fix" the budget by prioritizing big corporations and the wealthy while taking away rights from low-income families, public schools, farmers, senior citizens, legal immigrants, individuals with disabilities and many others.

The next hearing for this case is scheduled for Friday, April 1. There is a hearing scheduled Wednesday for a related case filed by Dane County against the State of Wisconsin, also challenging the constitutionality of the bill.


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