Walker Pulls a Fast One: Defies Court Order, Union-Busting Law Published
March 26, 2011
(ChattahBox Political News)—Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and his political bagmen backed by powerful corporate interests, just spit in the eye of the rule of law. The union-busting governor defied a court order and engineered the publishing of his budget-repair bill that strips public workers of their collective bargaining rights. He now says the bill is law and will take effect on Saturday. A Wisconsin Dane Country judge previously issued a restraining order enjoining implementation of the bill, and prohibiting the Secretary of State from publishing it. Walker and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) decided to pull an end-around and pressured the Legislative Reference Bureau to officially publish the union-stripping bill. Well, aren’t they clever. Fitzgerald said, “It’s published. It’s law. That’s what I contend.” The complete disregard for the rule of law by Walker’s administration is just astounding.
Since the court order only referenced the Secretary of State, Walker and his crew of lawbreakers argue nothing was preventing the Legislative Reference Bureau from publishing the bill. In Wisconsin, once a bill is published after it’s signed by the governor, it officially becomes law. But Secretary of State Doug La Follette says that’s not entirely true. After the Reference Bureau publishes a bill, it must be published in the newspaper of record, by the Secretary of State for it to officially become the law of the state. But Walker intends to ignore that part of the process and is treating the union-stripping bill as law.
Walker’s office issued a statement, saying “Today the administration was notified that the LRB published the budget repair bill as required by law. The administration will carry out the law as required.”
Wisconsinites deserve more from their public officials. This defiance of the law began with Scott Fitzgerald paying a little visit to Stephen Miller, director of the Legislative Reference Bureau. He persuaded Miller to go against the court order enjoining enactment of the bill and publish it anyway, reasoning Miller’s office was not named in the court order. Miller published it, with a footnote that points out the court order, but also states his office is bound by law to publish a bill within 10 working days of its signing.
“Fitzgerald and Miller met Friday. Miller said Fitzgerald asked him to publish the law and, after reading the statutes, Miller agreed that he could do so. He said he had never published a law without being given a date by the secretary of state during his 12 years of running the reference bureau.”
But La Follette issued a directive to Miller after the temporary restraining order was handed down.
“After the restraining order was issued March 18, La Follette sent a letter that same day to the reference bureau rescinding earlier instructions to publish the bill Friday. “I further instruct you to remove all reference to March 25, 2011, as the publication date and not to proceed with publication until I contact you with a new publication date,” his letter said.”
Under pressure from Fitzgerald, Miller apparently decided to ignore La Follette’s order and hide behind his ministerial duties, letting Walker, La Follette and the courts to fight it out. But even Miller acknowledges he can’t by himself, make laws official.
“I think this is a ministerial act that forwards it to the secretary of state,” said Stephen Miller, director of the Legislative Reference Bureau. “I don’t think this act makes it become effective. My understanding is that the secretary of state has to publish it in the (official state) newspaper for it to become effective.”
La Follette, meanwhile has halted the publishing of the law in the newspaper. What happens next is anyone’s guess. It will certainly be battled out in the courts. And somehow I don’t think Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi will take kindly to elected officials defying a lawful court order.
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D) is disgusted with the actions of the Walker administration. A memo from an attorney with the Legislative Council advised him that Walker and Fitzgerald’s shenanigans are not legal.
Barca released a statement blasting Walker’s shady actions in going forward as if the union-busting bill is now state law.
“In conversations this evening with Legislative Council attorneys, I was informed that it is their opinion, as well as the opinion of the Legislative Reference Bureau director, that Act 10 will not take effect based on the actions taken by the Legislative Reference Bureau late this afternoon.
“This bill has been under a cloud of suspicion since day one. Today’s actions and statements are only perpetuating the problem. The people of Wisconsin expected that because of the court injunction, Act 10 will not be able to take effect.
“Official publication by the Secretary of State is required for this act to go into effect. The Secretary of State, the only Constitutional officer with the power to publish law, is prohibited by court order from publishing this Act.
“I can only hope that the confusion resulting from today’s actions and comments does not harm the many communities and people who will be impacted if this does becomes law. The statements by the administration and legislative leaders only add to the confusion. We can only hope that their misstatements were not intentional or malicious.”
GOP thuggery at its finest.