A Dane County judge has restated her order that implementation of the budget repair bill should be stopped. Judge Maryann Sumi amended her restraining order Tuesday evening, as a legal challenge that claims the bill’s passage violated the open meetings law continues.
Sumi’s original order had enjoined action by the Secretary of State to publish the bill in the state newspaper; the final step for it to become law. However, the Legislative Reference Bureau published the bill online last Friday and Republicans contend it’s now official.
Judge Sumi says her original order was either misunderstood or ignored. She sought to clarify her message, although the judge did stop short of making an official declaration that the measures included in the budget repair bill are not yet law.
Department of Justice spokesman Steven Means says they believe the LRB action last Friday is enough to begin making changes included in the law, such as stripping the collective bargaining rights of most public employees. In a statement, the Department of Administration indicated it is still evaluating the judge’s order and conferring with legal counsel on how to move forward.
Sumi did issue a warning to those who choose to ignore her ruling. She said in court Tuesday that “those who act in willful and open defiance of a court order place not only themselves at peril of sanctions. They also jeopardize the financial and the governmental stability of the state of Wisconsin.”
Secretary of State Doug La Follette, who is named as a defendant in the open meetings lawsuit, says officials should follow the order. He says it’s a mistake to rush ahead with something that could affect thousands of Wisconsin citizens when the law’s legality is still in question.
Testimony in the open meetings lawsuit continues on Friday.