CHICAGO — A law to limit collective bargaining rights for public workers in Wisconsin was unexpectedly published by a state agency on Friday despite a temporary restraining order barring publication, sparking confusion and more animosity among legislators who have fiercely debated the issue for weeks.
State officials disagreed over whether publication of the law — a procedural requirement — would allow it to be in force on Saturday. The state’s Legislative Reference Bureau said it is required to publish all laws within 10 days after they are enacted. Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, signed the bill on March 11, but a county judge issued an order last week blocking the secretary of state from publishing it. The order did not bar the legislative bureau from publishing the law.
Democrats argued on Friday that the law would not go into effect on Saturday because it still required official publication by the secretary of state.
“This bill has been under a cloud of suspicion since Day 1,” Peter Barca, a Democrat and minority leader of the General Assembly, said in a statement. “Today’s actions and statements are only perpetuating the problem.”
Governor Walker’s administration said it had been notified that the agency published the bill as required by law. “The administration will carry out the law as required,” the administration said in a statement.
The law limits bargaining to matters of wages and limits raises to changes in the Consumer Price Index. It ends the state’s collection of union dues from paychecks and requires most unions to hold annual votes to determine whether workers still wish to be members.
Judge Maryann Sumi of Dane County Circuit Court in Madison had issued the temporary restraining order barring publication of the law last week after the county’s Democratic district attorney filed a lawsuit saying that Republican lawmakers violated open meeting requirements when they pushed the bill through the Legislature. Judge Sumi had planned to hold a full hearing this month.
On Thursday, a state appeals court declined to weigh in on the issue and suggested the Supreme Court take up the case.
It will be interesting to see if Republicans pay a political price for defying a court order.
Until these criminals are made to pay a political and a criminal price for their actions, they will continue to pull this kind of thing.