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Wisconsin judge temporarily blocks union bargaining law

A judge for Wisconsin's Dane County Circuit Court [official website] on Friday issued a temporary restraining order blocking the state's new Budget Repair Bill [Senate Bill 11 text, PDF]. Judge Maryann Sumi's order blocked the law from being published [NYT report], one of the procedural steps towards enacting it. The lawsuit [complaint, PDF] over the bill alleges that Republican legislators did not follow the state's open meetings law [text], a rule requiring 24 hours notice—or two hours if there is an emergency—before a public meeting. District Attorney Ismael Ozanne [official website] filed the complaint [JURIST report] on Tuesday in an attempt to invalidate the law, which strips public unions of the vast majority of their collective bargaining right. A full hearing of the suit will occur on March 29, but nothing in the restraining order blocks Republicans from passing the bill again with the appropriate notice.

Ozanne is the second public official to mount a legal challenge to the bill, following a similar suit filed last week [complaint, PDF] by Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk [official profile]. Falk's suit came immediately after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker [official website] signed the bill into law last week [JURIST report]. The provisions limiting bargaining rights incensed unions and their supporters, sparking protests which have been ongoing since February 15, when SB 11 was introduced to address the state's $3.6 billion deficit. Earlier this month, a Wisconsin judge ruled that the state capitol building must remain open [JURIST report] to the public during business hours, despite an attempt to close the building to protesters who had occupied it as part of a protest against the proposed restrictions on collective bargaining. The Wisconsin State Employees Union Council 24 [advocacy website] filed the petition earlier in the day in reaction to Walker ordering the capitol building closed and removing protesters.

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