March 16, 2011- Republican lawmakers violated Wisconsin's open meetings law when they amended a contentious plan that bars most public employees from collective bargaining, a Madison prosecutor alleged in a lawsuit Wednesday.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne's legal challenge is the second from a county official since Gov. Scott Walker signed the bill into law Friday. Ozanne filed his lawsuit after Democrats in the Wisconsin Assembly alleged Republican leaders didn't give enough public notice that a committee planned to meet to amend the bill.
Ozanne, a Democrat, wants a judge to void the law and issue an emergency order blocking the secretary of state from publishing the law, which would prevent it from taking effect. He also wants each Republican leader fined $300.
Judge Maryann Sumi was scheduled to hold a hearing on the lawsuit Thursday morning.
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk filed a lawsuit nearly identical to Ozanne's the same day Walker signed the bill, which garnered nationwide attention and drew tens of thousands of protesters to the Wisconsin Capitol for weeks.
Walker spokesman Chris Schrimpf said Republicans did nothing wrong. Andrew Welhouse, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, added: "We are completely confidant we followed the law through the entire process."
The new law limits most public workers' collective bargaining rights to wages only, so they can no longer negotiate work conditions, vacation time or grievance processes.
Walker and Republicans insist the move will help the state balance its current $137 million deficit and a $3.6 billion hole in the upcoming two-year budget. Walker also has said the law will give local governments the flexibility to absorb deep cuts in state aid.
Democrats consider it a direct attempt to cripple unions, one of their strongest campaign allies. Union workers see the law as a personal attack.