Share

Unions, senator file 3rd lame-duck lawsuit in Wisconsin

Share

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A coalition of labor unions and a Democratic lawmaker filed another lawsuit Monday challenging last-minute measures Wisconsin Republicans approved last year to weaken the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general, arguing the new laws are illegal and place an “incalculable” financial burden on taxpayers.

GOP legislators passed a sweeping package of legislation in December to weaken new Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, both Democrats. The measure prohibits Evers from withdrawing from lawsuits, a move designed to block him from pulling Wisconsin out of a multistate lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. Other key provisions in the bill force Kaul to get approval from the Legislature’s budget committee before settling lawsuits, allow lawmakers to intervene in lawsuits and restrict early-voting hours.

Liberal-leaning groups including the League of Women voters filed a lawsuit in Dane County court last month challenging the laws, arguing Republicans convened illegally to adopt the legislation. Liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now challenged the early voting restrictions in federal court last month and convinced U.S. District Judge James Peterson to block them.

Now comes a third lawsuit. Five unions, including the Service Employees International Union and the Wisconsin chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, and their members along with state Sen. Janet Bewley filed the action in Dane County court. The lawsuit brands the lame-duck laws “an assault on the will of the voters and an unprecedented ‘power grab.'”

The lawsuit alleges the new statutes violate the Wisconsin Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine, which divides government into executive, legislative and judiciary branches. The laws essentially steal power form the executive branch and transfers it to the legislative branch, the lawsuit contends, creating confusion about the state’s position in key litigation. The lawsuit points out that Evers tried to order Kaul in his State of the State address last month to withdraw from the ACA lawsuit only to have Kaul say he can’t without legislative approval. Republicans haven’t responded.

Trending:
Some Americans Already Pulling Their Accounts from Credit Unions Over Dems' IRS Spying Plan

“It is particularly troubling that the extraordinary legislation imposes extra hurdles on the Attorney General and the Governor in situations where they wish to take the position that a given law is unconstitutional,” the lawsuit said. “This prevents the Executive Branch from fulfilling its key role as an independent, democratically accountable check on the Legislature should the Legislature pass an unconstitutional law.”

The filing also takes issue with requirements that by July 1 state agencies take down all public communications explaining how they’re interpreting laws, unless they send all the publications through a new process that includes a public comment period. The lawsuit alleges that means vast numbers of basic government communications could disappear, including employer handbooks on unemployment benefits, Division of Motor Vehicles bulletins about driver’s license exams and Department of Children and Families forms laying out eligibility requirements for child support.

The filing also alleges the laws could mean higher legal bills for the state since lawmakers can now insert themselves in lawsuits using private attorneys. It notes that Assembly Speaker Robin Vos recently released a contract showing taxpayers are paying at least $840,000 to defend Republican lawmakers in a federal redistricting lawsuit and plan to hire private attorneys at taxpayer expense to defend the lame-duck laws against the League of Women Voters.

“The financial burden that will be imposed on Wisconsin taxpayers as a result of this chaos and inefficiency is incalculable,” the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit concludes with an argument that the budget committee lacks the power to decide whether to settle a lawsuit because the 16-member panel doesn’t have enough members to constitute a majority of the Senate or Assembly.

___

This story has been updated to correct the name of the American Federation of Teachers.

___

Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trichmond1

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →



loading

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
Share
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
Location
New York City




loading

Conversation