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Friday, May 17, 2024 | Back issues
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New Twist in Wisconsin’s|Fight Against Public Unions

MADISON, Wisc. (CN) - In a new twist in the vicious fight over Wisconsin's anti-union law, Wisconsin's Democratic secretary of state told the state Supreme Court he does not want to be represented by the state's Republican attorney general in a legal fight.

Secretary of State Doug La Follette on Wednesday asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court for permission to replace Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen as his legal counsel.

La Follette said he does not want Van Hollen to appeal a Dane County Judge's March 18 ruling that the law cannot be published - the final step necessary for it to be enforced - because the Legislature may have violated the open meetings law to pass it.

Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi prohibited La Follette from publishing the so-called Budget Repair Bill, after Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne sued the state, saying Republican lawmakers had violated the state's open meetings law when they used a legislative trick to ram the bill through without a quorum.

Sumi barred La Follette from publishing the law, so Gov. Scott Walker and his Republican majority had the Legislative Reference Bureau publish it, and Walker began enforcing the law on a weekend.

Sumi then reissued her injunction, telling Walker in no uncertain terms that the Legislative Reference Bureau couldn't publish the law either, and Walker could not enforce it, until the smoke clears from the legal battlefield.

The law prohibits unions representing public employees from collectively bargaining for anything other than salary, and contains other onerous provisions to make union representation more difficult for public workers.

Furor over the law caused Democratic lawmakers to flee the state for 3 weeks, during which Republicans decided that a Budget Repair Bill was not a "fiscal" bill, and so didn't need a quorum, and passed it without one.

Ozanne's lawsuit is one of several challenging the law. At least one other lawsuit claims the bill is unconstitutional.

La Follette told the state Supreme Court that Van Hollen didn't consult him before appealing Judge Sumi's order.

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