Daily Archives: March 19, 2011

CNN: Wisconsin judge halts state budget law curbing unions’ power

March 18, 2011- Wisconsin judge issued a temporary restraining order Friday halting the state's controversial budget repair law that curbs the union power of most public employees, the Dane County district attorney's office said.

Gov. Scott Walker, who championed the measure and signed it into law last week, said he was confident the initiative would eventually prevail in the court system, a spokeswoman said.

"This legislation is still working through the legal process. We are confident the provisions of the budget repair bill will become law in the near future," Cullen Werwie, the governor's press secretary, said in a statement.

Wisconsin Senate Democrats said the law, which reduces the collective bargaining rights of most state employees, is an attack on workers and filed a complaint with the Dane County district attorney, claiming that the Senate's Republican-led vote violated Wisconsin's open meetings law.

Washington Post: Judge blocks Wisconsin law curbing labor rights

March 18, 2011- Wisconsin judge has temporarily blocked a controversial law from going into effect that would severely restrict collective-bargaining rights for most public employees in the state.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi issued a restraining order Friday that stops publication of the law signed last week by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R). Halting that procedural step essentially blocks the measure, which would go into effect once it is formally published.

The judge’s order came after Dane County’s Democratic District Attorney Ismael Ozanne filed a suit alleging that a joint committee of the legislature violated the state’s open meeting law when it abruptly called a session to get the measure passed last week.

The judge’s ruling does not speak to the legal merits of the law but says that the suit over the session has to be completed before the law can move forward.

Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, praised the judge’s action.

Daily Hampshire Gazette: Billionaire Koch brothers now at heart of GOP power

February 7, 2011- The billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch no longer sit outside Washington's political establishment, isolated by their uncompromising conservatism. Instead, they are now at the center of Republican power, a change most evident in the new makeup of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Wichita-based Koch Industries and its employees formed the largest single oil and gas donor to members of the panel, ahead of giants like Exxon Mobil, contributing $279,500 to 22 of the committee's 31 Republicans, and $32,000 to five Democrats.

Nine of the 12 new Republicans on the panel signed a pledge distributed by a Koch-founded advocacy group – Americans for Prosperity – to oppose the Obama administration's proposal to regulate greenhouse gases. Of the six GOP freshman lawmakers on the panel, five benefited from the group's separate advertising and grass-roots activity during the 2010 campaign.

Wisconsin State Journal: Judge orders temporary halt to collective bargaining law; state will appeal

Macrh 18, 2011- A Dane County judge Friday ordered a temporary halt to Gov. Scott Walker's controversial measure to curb collective bargaining for public employees, saying a legislative committee likely violated the state Open Meetings Law when it rushed passage of the bill earlier this month.

"This was something that would and did catch the public unaware," Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi, saying the joint Assembly-Senate conference committee's action March 9 amounted to a "closed session of a body … propelling legislation forward."

Sumi's ruling bars Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the law, the last step before it can take effect. La Follette had planned to publish the law on March 25, which would cause it to take effect the following day.

Walker, who signed the bill last week, had asked La Follette to publish it sooner. But La Follette said he saw no urgency to move the law ahead and wanted to give legal challenges a chance to run their course.

Talking Points Memo: WI Attorney General To Appeal Ruling Against Anti-Union Law

March 18, 2011- Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) has quickly announced that the state will be appealing today's ruling from a Dane County judge, blocking the implementation of Gov. Scott Walker's (R) controversial anti-public employee union law on procedural grounds.

As WisPolitics reports:

"In a statement on the state's planned appeal, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says the Legislature and guv, "not a single Dane County Circuit Court Judge, are responsible for the enactment of laws."Van Hollen also added: "No matter whether individual citizens agree with the substance of the bill or the manner in which it was enacted, I would hope all see the value in ensuring this matter be given the opportunity to work its way expeditiously through the judicial process."

NYT: Judge’s Order Blocks Law on Unions in Wisconsin

March 18, 2011- Efforts to shrink collective bargaining rights for public workers in Wisconsin were slowed on Friday when a judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking a much-debated law from taking effect.

The decision, issued by Judge Maryann Sumi of the Dane County Circuit Court in Madison, temporarily bars the Wisconsin secretary of state from publishing the law, which limits bargaining to matters of wages. The fight over the law has drawn tens of thousands of demonstrators to the State Capitol, and the issue has become a focus of debate in numerous statehouses.

Publication of the law — a procedural requirement needed before it can take effect — had been expected next week. But Judge Sumi’s ruling could delay that until at least later in the month, when she plans to hold a full hearing on a lawsuit that accuses Republican lawmakers of violating the Wisconsin open meeting requirements to push through the bill. State officials said they were pursuing an appeal of the restraining order.

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