State Supreme Court to decide on collective bargaining law - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

State Supreme Court to decide on collective bargaining law

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MADISON (WAOW) -

The State Supreme Court is debating the governor's chief accomplishment in office, the collective bargaining law. Both sides presented arguments Monday. Now, the highest state court must decide to uphold it, or strike it down.

"How does a circuit judge have the authority?" Argued Wisconsin Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen.

"You can't act on something that is not law," said Tamara Packard, attorney representing Madison Teacher, Inc.

This is just the latest step in a long battle. In 2011, Governor Scott Walker proposed stripping collective bargaining rights from most public workers. That law passed despite massive protests. Then, last year a Madison judge ruled those restrictions were unconstitutional as they applied to schools and city workers. A few weeks ago, that same judge found some state officials in contempt of court for continuing to enforce parts of the law. Now, the ball is with the State Supreme Court.

During arguments, J. B. Van Hollen said the law is constitutional.

"The represented employees still retain every one of those first amendment rights. They are not at all burdened or penalized at all for voting to have a collective bargaining representative to represent their collective bargaining unit," Van Hollen told the court.

But attorneys representing Madison Teachers, Inc. disagreed.

"They must respect the authority of the judicial branch, they are not to enforce or implement a law that has been declared by any court of this state to be unconstitutional, null in void," argued Packard.

This is the second time Act 10 has come to the high court. The last time the justices ruled republicans did properly pass it. There's no time line for when a decision may come down. But, both sides agree the sooner, the better.

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