The question before everyone earlier today: was the budget law implementable yet? The answer to everyone using their common sense: Not likely. And Judge Maryann Sumi made her earlier judgment even more clear, stating today that the law is not to be implemented at this time.
Though it was published on the Legislative Reference Bureau's website last weekend, the controversial law that ends collective bargaining rights for thousands of public workers has not yet been published in the official state newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal. Until it's published there, officially the law cannot be implemented.
A temporary restraining order on Secretary of State Doug La Follette prohibits him from publishing the law in the State Journal until the matter can be further reviewed. But Scott Walker & Co. see it otherwise. Department of Administration head Mike Huebsch began implementing the law this past weekend following it's publication on the LBR's website.
That was a complete disregard for the rule of law. Not only was the Walker administration deliberately disobeying the intent of a court order, it also disobeyed the laws that have been established regarding when a passed law can be implemented. Even the LRB had come out and said that the law was not in effect -- not until the Sec. of State publishes it in the State Journal. But that didn't matter to Walker and his Republican allies.
They published the law anyway and carried it out as if only their opinion mattered. There was also evidence that suggested Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald put pressure on the LRB to publish the law, suggesting that this had been part of the Wisconsin Republican leaders' playbook. The threat of legal action against the LRB coming from the Attorney General's office sealed the deal, and despite not believing themselves that publishing the law on their site made it implementable, the LRB acquiesced to the governor's demands.
While state law does require a law to be published within ten days of its passage, the law in question was passed in an illegal manner. An open meetings law was violated in the process of this law being rammed through the legislature. Without proper notice given to the people of Wisconsin, the law should be nullified, deemed passed in an improper way. It can be passed again if Republicans want to do that -- but the law as it stands shouldn't be recognized as valid.
Disregarding the laws of the state and disregarding the legal rulings of this state's judges -- it's sad to say that the actions of these Republican lawmakers don't surprise me much anymore. Judge Sumi's decision today is the right one to have made, reaffirming her earlier judgment that the budget law, which passed in an illegal fashion, needs further review.