March 31, 2011- State officials have not stopped putting in place changes to collective bargaining rules for public employees despite a judge's order barring the law's implementation — and a threat of sanctions against anyone who violates it.
Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said Wednesday he has a legal obligation to implement all laws passed by the Legislature, signed by Gov. Scott Walker and published into law. Huebsch said the Department of Justice and his own legal counsel, a team of DOA attorneys, agree the measure has met those requirements "and is now effective law."
"It is my duty to administer that law," he said.
Huebsch's latest comments raise questions about whether he or others could face sanctions following a hearing Tuesday, when Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi said any further implementation of the law is prohibited under a temporary court order.
"Now that I've made my earlier order as clear as it possibly can be, I must state that those who act in open and willful defiance of the court order place not only themselves at peril of sanctions, they also jeopardize the financial and the governmental stability of the state of Wisconsin," Sumi said Tuesday.
Sumi was referring to a March 18 ruling that a legislative committee likely violated the state's open meetings law when it rushed passage of the bill earlier this month. That order also barred Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the law.
But the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau, which was not a party to the case, published the law on the Legislature's website Friday citing a separate statutory obligation to publish laws within 10 days of being signed by the governor. That has prompted the administration to declare the law is in effect.
A Democratic leader who has repeatedly raised questions about violations linked to the law slammed Huebsch's comments.
"My advice to him is to follow the judge's order," said Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha.