The only Wisconsin legislators to be found in violation of a law are the Republicans. Today, Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi blocked the collective bargaining bill, because it was passed in violation of the open meetings law. Though the decision is preliminary, the judge pretty much put the nail in the coffin when she said that she saw no evidence that 24-hour notice couldn't have been given. Unless the Republicans can pull a rabbit out of their hat, they will ultimately be found in violation of the open meetings law.
The judge stated that the law's 24-hour notice is "not a minor detail" and that nothing in government should be done in secret, emphasizing the law's importance when dealing with controversial issues. "The open meetings law exists to ensure open government in controversial matters." The protests around the state the last few weeks have made it clear how controversial and unpopular the bill was, but the Republicans wanted to shove this unpopular and controversial bill down our throats any way they could.
Upon hearing the judge's preliminary decision, Secretary of State Doug La Follette reiterated the judge's ruling and his reasoning for cautious movement on publishing the bill, "All along I've tried to judiciously and carefully follow the law in a prudent way," La Follette said. "As the arguments this morning made clear and the judge I think made clear, this is a momentous activity on the part of the state. This is not some minor piece of legislation. And because of that the open meetings law was very significant and should be taken very seriously."
During the meeting in question, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca stood trying to read the legal opinion from Republican Attorney General Van Hollen which stated that what they were doing was in violation of the open meetings law, but Fitzgerald and the other Republicans blatantly ignored Barca as if he was a fly in the room. They continued with their business, voting and walking out of the room while Barca was still trying to finish. The Republicans didn't want to even acknowledge that a law such as the open meetings law existed, and they were hoping no one was paying enough attention. Fortunately, for democracy and workers' rights, lots of people were paying lots of attention.
There's talk that Walker might appeal, but I'll say this now. The Walker administration won't appeal, because they know they won't win. If they do, they'll show they lack even more common sense than I thought. Instead, if they decide to try to strip the rights of public workers again, they'll do it through the legislative process. So, we must continue communicating with our legislators and filling out recall petitions. Next time around, the Republicans in the majority should think about the people of Wisconsin instead of their corporate donors in D.C..
Barca, who tried his hardest to stop the Republican-led committee from violating the open meetings law, and the other Wisconsin Democrats have been vindicated. The Wisconsin Democrats have shown that they support democracy and workers' rights, while the Republicans tried to rush through a corporate sponsored bill with no regard for the law. The Republicans would like you to think the Wisconsin 14 did something illegal by leaving the state, but it's the Republicans who will ultimately be found in violation of the law.
Update: (2:09pm) Just saw that the administration is requesting an appeal.