In a decision issued this morning, Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi ruled that Republican lawmakers violated the Open Meetings Law when they scheduled a conference committee meeting to advance a stripped down version of the Governor’s collective bargaining bill with less than two hours notice.
The March 9th meeting was scheduled to push through a non-fiscal version of the bill without Senate Democrats, who remained out of state at the time. The Dane County District Attorney filed the open meetings challenge, arguing many people had been shut out of the hearing and Republicans did not give the required 24 hours notice.
Sumi had previously issued a temporary injunction against enacting the bill stripping public employees of most collective bargaining rights, but her decision today voids the bill entirely. The Judge wrote that violations of the Open Meetings Law betray the publics’ trust and the case is an exemplar of the values protected by that law.
The State Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments next month over whether it should take up the legal challenge against passage of the bill, meaning the case is far from over. There’s also a possibility that Republicans could try to pass the bill again or include it in the state budget.