Looks like the balance of power is well distrubuted across the three branches of
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin officials couldn't agree Friday about whether
an explosive law taking away nearly all public worker collective bargaining rights
was about to take effect after a nonpartisan legislative bureau published it despite
a court order blocking publication.
The Legislative Reference Bureau's action was noted on the state Legislature's
website Friday, sending confused lawmakers and legal experts scrambling to
determine what's next for the measure that has brought waves of chaos to the
state since it first was proposed by Gov. Scott Walker.
Legislative Reference Bureau director Steve Miller insisted the action doesn't mean
his action will result in the law taking effect Saturday. He says that won't actually
happen until Secretary of State Doug La Follette orders the law published in a
"It's not implementation of all," Miller said. "It's simply a matter of forwarding an
official copy to the secretary of state."
But La Follette wasn't so sure, saying it wasn't clear what the action means.
"I think we're going to have to get some legal opinion on this," he said.
And Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said the action means the
law takes effect Saturday.
"It's my opinion it's published, it's on the legislative website, it's law," Fitzgerald said.
A judge last week issued a temporary restraining order blocking any further
implementation of the law while the court considers challenges to its approval. The
order specifically blocked La Follette from publishing the law.
But the Reference Bureau said it's still required to publish every new law within 10
working days after it's signed by the governor, on the date designated by the
secretary of state.
Walker signed the collective bargaining measure March 11 and La Follette had
designated Friday as the date of publication. But after the judge's restraining
order, La Follette had sent a letter to the Reference Bureau saying he was
rescinding his setting of that as the publication date.
Walker's top aide Mike Huebsch, secretary of the Department of Administration,
issued a statement saying he had been notified that the law had been published.
"The administration will carry out the law as required," Huebsch said.
John Jagler, a spokesman for Republican Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, said
he assumed the action means the law takes effect on Saturday.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, who filed the lawsuit challenging the
law that led to the restraining order, did not immediately return a message
The new law requires nearly all public sector workers, including teachers, to
contribute more to their pensions and health insurance, changes that amount to an
average 8% pay cut. It also strips them of their ability to collectively bargain for
anything except wages no higher than inflation.