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Oral arguments today in budget-repair bill court challenge

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MADISON (WSAU) A judge in Madison plans to decide today whether to temporarily stop Wisconsin’s new public union bargaining limits from taking effect.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi will hear testimony on the district attorney’s complaint that a state committee broke the Open Meeting Law when it passed the measure nine days ago. Four Republican legislative leaders are named in the complaint. They’re immune from civil suits until the end of their current session in January of 2013. But the complaint would also prohibit Secretary-of-State Doug La Follette publishing the law, thus blocking its implementation.

Judge Sumi expects to hear enough testimony to decide today on a temporary restraining order. It would block the collective bargaining limits until the alleged Open Meeting Law violations can be fully considered. Without that move, the law would take effect a week from tomorrow.

Also, Judge Sumi will hear arguments today on a lawsuit to throw out the bargaining limits directly. But the judge does not plan to make an immediate decision.

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk filed that suit. She later asked that the legislators she cited be dropped from the case, citing their constitutional immunity. But Falk also wants to add Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch and Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith to her list of defendants.

Democrats and public unions asked prosecutors to file the Open Meeting complaint. They see the courts as their last chance to stop the law, which allows most public unions to bargain only for wages at-or-below inflation.

Republican Governor Scott Walker has touted the measure as a way for state-and-local governments to cut millions in labor costs, and deal with declining revenues and budget deficits.

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