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Judge Nullifies Collective Bargaining Changes

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi struck down the state Legislature's budget repair bill which eliminated most collective bargaining for most public workers.

A Dane County judge today struck down the controversial budget repair bill that eliminated most collective bargaining for most public employees.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi released a 33-page decision Thursday nullifying Act 10, which prompted thousands of protestors to crowd the state Capitol for weeks.

But the decision, posted on The Wheeler Report, will not end the litigation. The state Supreme Court has been asked to consider the case, and state legislators are preparing to re-insert the collective bargaining changes in the state's 2011-13 budget.

At least one legislator — Independent Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer of Manitowoc — is trying to add police, fire and other public safety workers to the collective bargaining changes. They were exempted from the bill proposed by Gov. Scott Walker and approved by Republican senators while their Democratic colleagues fled to Illinois to stall action on the bill. 

JSOnline.com has this report on Sumi's decision.

Sumi ruled that state lawmakers violated the state's Open Meetings laws by failing to properly notice the March 9 vote in the Capitol.

She noted she was not ruling on the merits of the bill. "It is not this court's business to determine whether 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 is good public policy or bad public policy; that is the business of the Legislature.

"It is the court's responsibility, however, to apply the rules of law to the facts before it," Sumi wrote. 

Opponents argued they were not obligated to follow laws that meetings and votes must have a minimum of two hours public notice.

WisPolitics.com quotes Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and state Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch as saying they would continue to push for the reforms and were confident they will be implemented. 

"We will continue to pursue legal action with the Supreme Court in an effort to protect middle class jobs and middle class taxpayers,” Huebsch said in a statement.

WEAC President Mary Bell praised Sumi's ruling and urged lawmakers not to re-vote on the changes, which limited union negotiations to only wages capped by the consumer price index. 

"It is not in the best interest of students, schools or Wisconsin’s future to take the voices of educators out of our classrooms," Bell said. "We’ve seen how this issue has polarized our state.”

Randy1949 May 30, 2011 at 02:58 PM
@Dave M . . . Doctors will probably tell you that the high cost of an office visit is because of high overhead. The only overhead I can think of is the extra clerical staff to fill out all the insurance forms. I've never had a colonoscopy, so I wouldn't know if anything has changed. Whenever my doctor suggests one I grin and say that being uninsured has caused me many sacrifices but this is one I don't regret. Does a healthy adult with no risk factors really need one? I've often wondered why forty years ago a week in the hospital didn't bankrupt you, but now it does. It isn't all lining the pockets of the administrators, although I suspect an awful lot of the increase is to make up for bad debt -- those who don't pay at all and insurance plans that remunerate at a low level. Another factor would be the purchase of expensive technology that gets passed on to the cost of a hospital bed. But seriously, I think a lot of it is going to excess administrative costs and profit in the insurance industry. Take that away -- single payer and universal coverage -- and you save money.
Randy1949 May 30, 2011 at 03:39 PM
You still need people entering data. With non-standardized forms and different rates of remuneration, that takes extra time. I've done this job. Yes, I've tried to get an idea of the costs involved with a procedure. Almost 20 years ago and uninsured, I needed some elective surgery. The surgeon's fee was reasonable, I thought, and so was the assistant's. The hospitals were a different matter. The lowest quote I got for a three day stay was $20,000 -- and this was two decades ago. Needless to say, if you're working a low wage job with no insurance benefits, you don't have money like that. I'm happy to be an informed consumer and to manage costs myself, but I need the tools to do it.
Bren May 30, 2011 at 09:20 PM
Friends in medicine tell me that patients cancel routine and necessary tests and procedures. Many on meds reduce their intake or have just stop due to cost. Why? Insurance companies. I worked for one during the time Clinton was trying to introduce the idea of universal healthcare (the tried and true system used 'round the world). The medical and pharma industries were against it at the time, but now they support Pres. Obama's ideas (remember Big Pharma alone was willing to invest $2billion). Why? because they're not being paid by the insurance companies. Consider the amount of time it takes to get a claim paid; and how much you still have to pay. I pay $500/month for insurance with a $9,000 family deductible. I broke my leg; insurance paid nothing and I struggle to pay the bills because I'm paying $500/month for insurance. That's a cracked up system and pure profit for the ins. co. Meanwhile the doctor waits to be paid. It's classic. The middle man always has his paw out, and in this case, the insurance industry has grown so much in the past 15 years that it's squeezing the life out of suppliers and receivers. People talked about Obama "death panels," but insurance companies are far worse. Someone with a GED and 3 month's training deciding how much chemo or what kind of pain meds you should have. Consider how businesses could hire more people if they weren't responsible for paying a large portion of employees' health insurance! And everyone would get equal care.
Gregory Kluck May 30, 2011 at 11:54 PM
I would say also that doctors who have access to their own medical equipment and labs, usually charge more because those pieces of equipment are very expensive. I do work for GE medical systems through the company I work at. A hospital can absorb the cost but the clinic on the corner has to get money from patient bills to pay for those. Some savings are evident in lab work though. I know when my doc does blood work, the clinic's lab can do it and doesn't have to send it to a stand alone lab or the hospital.
Gregory Kluck May 31, 2011 at 03:35 AM
Yes, I should have clarified "corner clinic". My provider is Prohealth, but the doctor i go to has an office in a Prohealth clinic that can handle those tests.

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