In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Judge: Wisconsin Anti-Union Law Not Validly Published, Not In Effect

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Two Fridays ago, Judge Sumi blocked the law on procedural grounds, issuing a temporary restraining order on the grounds the plaintiff, the Dane County District Attorney, had a likelihood of success in his complaint that a key conference committee used to advance the bill -- and to get around the state Senate Dems' walkout from the state -- had violated the state open-meetings law by failing to give proper 24-hours notice. The judge's order "restrain[ed] and enjoin[ed] the further implementation" of the law, including the prevention of Secretary of State Doug La Follette (D) from publishing the act in the Wisconsin State Journal. The State Journal acts as the state's official newspaper for the purpose of giving the public official notice of new laws -- the final step for the law to take effect. That decision is now going through an appeals process, which remains up in the air.

This past Friday, however, state Republicans had the bill published by a different state agency -- the Legislative Reference Bureau, which handles drafting and research for the legislature -- according to the LRB's statutory requirement to publish legislation within ten days of enactment. Notably, the LRB itself has said that this publication does not constitute action that would put the law into effect. But state Republican leaders, including Walker's office and the state Attorney General, say that the law is now in effect.

And on Monday, Huebsch announced that he was now carrying out the law, with government employees' paychecks starting on April 21 to contain deductions for contributions to their health care and pensions -- and to no longer deduct union dues.

Then on Tuesday, Sumi issued another order to block the law -- and Assistant Attorney General Steven Means, who worked for Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, said the law would still hold:

"Apparently that language was either misunderstood or ignored, but what I said was the further implementation of Act 10 was enjoined. That is what I now want to make crystal clear," she said.

But minutes later, outside the court room, Assistant Attorney General Steven Means said the legislation "absolutely" is still in effect.