A Dane County judge will hold hearings Friday on two lawsuits challenging how the controversial budget repair bill was approved last week by the Legislature.
Judge Maryann Sumi will start the morning with a request from Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent the Secretary of State from publishing the law. Ozanne claims the conference committee meeting that advanced the bill violated state open meetings laws because it was not properly noticed.
A lawsuit filed by Dane County, which is set to go before the judge Friday afternoon, makes a similar claim. The County’s lawsuit also argues the Senate could not legally pass the bill because it still had a fiscal impact and required at least 20 members present. Only 19 Republican Senators were there to vote on the bill minutes after the conference committee approved it last Wednesday.
Attorneys in both lawsuits went before Judge Sumi this morning for status updates before tomorrow’s hearings. During discussions about Ozanne’s challenge, both sides noted that Republican lawmakers are protected from being served in civil lawsuits while the Legislature is in session. Ozanne says that should not stop the case from moving ahead though because the Secretary of State, who will publish the law, has been served.
Secretary of State Doug La Follette has said he will delay publishing the law as long as possible, preventing it from taking effect until at least March 25th.
Judge Sumi indicated she will only consider the request for a temporary restraining order during Friday’s hearing. However, she says a final decision on the open meetings law violations is not expected until after the March 25th deadline to publish the bill.