February 12, 2016

Judge strikes down portions of administrative rules law

A Dane County judge has found portions of a state law unconstitutional.

The decision comes out of a legal challenge filed against a law passed last year that gave the governor more control over the administrative rules process. Several state and local teachers unions sued, arguing the law violates the constitutional authority of the state Superintendent of Public Instruction by giving the governor and Department of Administration more power over rules DPI tries to implement.

Dane County Circuit Judge Amy Smith on Tuesday sided with the unions, saying the law gives another state officer “superior authority” over the DPI superintendent and limits their ability to supervise educational policy in the state.

The law gives the governor veto authority over rules written by any state agency, but Tuesday’s ruling only applies to the oversight of proposals made by the Department of Public Instruction.

Even though he was named as a defendant in the lawsuit, State Superintendent Tony Evers released a statement praising the decision. Evers says the judge validated concerns he raised during legislative debate on the law.

The state Department of Justice says it is reviewing the decision, which it could appeal.

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