A Wisconsin state circuit court judge Thursday declared Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill void because a legislative committee that had approved it for a further vote by the state Senate and Assembly met without complying with the state’s Open Meetings Law.
On March 9, 2011, the Wisconsin Assembly convened a committee meeting with about 110 minutes’ public notice. Democrats filed suit, alleging two hours’ notice was required under the Open Meetings Law, and Judge Maryann Sumi ruled they were correct and the law was void.
The matter now goes to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which may hear it as soon as June 6.
The following statement from Maureen Martin, The Heartland Institute’s senior fellow for legal affairs, may be used for attribution, or you may contact her directly for further comment.
“‘It’s a victory for sunshine,’ one union representative said. He must be kidding. Fourteen state senators had vamoosed to Illinois, refusing to come back for a final vote. The committee meeting was televised statewide. And thousands of union thugs jammed the state Capitol, shouting ‘Shame, shame’ and beating on bongo drums while the committee met. It is a travesty of justice to characterize this meeting as somehow ‘secret’ and out of public view.
“Republicans say if this trial court decision stands on appeal, they will just enact the bill again with more notice. Even then, Democrats have vowed to litigate the matter to death with challenges to the merits of the bill, rather than the technical attack mounted here. If Democrats were serious about addressing Wisconsin’s mounting deficits, they would buckle down and take a hard look at state spending, rather than engaging in endless rounds of costly litigation.”
The Heartland Institute is a 27-year-old national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago and Washington, DC. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site at http://www.heartland.org or call 312/377-4000.