Madison, Wis. (WHBL-Learfield) - State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald insists that last night’s sudden vote to pass the union bargaining restrictions was legal. But media attorney Bob Dreps and former state Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager both say the G-O-P did not provide enough public notice. And Lautenschlager – who represents a large state employee union – said both the State Justice Department and the Dane County district attorney should easily find enough evidence to show that the vote on the bill broke the state Open Meetings Law. The law requires a 24-hour notice of public meetings, but only two hours in an emergency. And Fitzgerald said he posted a conference committee notice two hours before the panel met to remove financial portions of the budget repair bill. That allowed the 19 Republican senators to vote without needing the 20 required to act on fiscal bills. G-O-P senators passed the union restrictions 18-to-1, with Dale Schultz calling for a continuation of collective bargaining. Most of that bargaining would be gutted under the bill. State union workers would have to pay more toward their pensions and health insurance. And police and fire unions would be exempt. The Assembly is scheduled to ratify the Senate’s changes today, but Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca says there’s no way the senators’ actions can legally stand. An estimated seven-thousand protestors gathered at the Capitol after the Senate vote. And many signed petitions that could be used to challenge the meetings’ legality.
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