Last Friday, Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi, who cited a violation of the stateâÄôs open meetings law, rightly blocked the publication of the recent legislation to curtail collective bargaining rights for public employees. Partisans on both sides of the debate should realize that the process of passing legislation matters as much as the legislation itself. Wisconsin lawmakers should be willing to meet and reconsider the bill in a way that meets the requirements of the stateâÄôs open meetings law.
When the bill was passed, state legislators did not give the 24 hours public notice required for an ordinary public meeting. They did not even give the two hours notice required before an emergency meeting can be held.
Additional open meeting violations occurred when security around the capital building prevented many people from attending the meeting, which was also held in a room too small to accommodate the crowd who wished to attend.
Rather than appeal SumiâÄôs ruling, Republicans should instead bring the bill back to the floor of the Legislature. There the bill can be debated and voted on in accordance with WisconsinâÄôs open meetings law as well as with the input of the returned Democratic legislators.
Judge Sumi was completely correct in her decision when she found that the Wisconsin Legislature had violated the law in the way it passed the bill to curtail collective bargaining. In her words, âÄúWe are entitled by a law to free and open access to government meetings, especially governmental meetings that lead to the resolution of very highly conflicted and controversial matters.âÄù We hope Wisconsin Republicans take note of her judicious ruling.