A coalition of labor unions have filed a new lawsuit against several GOP leaders over the controversial lame duck bills Republicans passed at the end of last year.
They removed certain powers from incoming Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul. Both of them are Democrats, and many critics characterized the move as a “power grab.”
This lawsuit from unions claims the lame duck bills violate separation of powers. Four unions are bringing the suit, and they filed in Dane County Circuit Court this morning.
Neal Bisno is the Executive Vice President of Service Employees International Union. He said the laws go against the will of the people, who elected Evers and Kaul in November.
“The lame duck governor and lame duck Legislature enacted, in the dark of night, unprecedented and unconstitutional legislation that stripped the governor and attorney general of powers that had always belonged to them,” Bisno says.
The suit claims that in taking power from the executive branch of state government, the laws violate the separation of powers clause in the state constitution. They’re also asking for the courts to block something like this from happening in the future.
In addition to the service employees international union, Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Organization and American Federation of Teachers Wisconsin are also bringing in the lawsuit.
“We are speaking up for the people who thought they were speaking up during the election,” AFT-Wisconsin president Kim Kolhaas says. “The people who voted for public education, healthcare, workers rights and higher education.”
The suit also claims that the laws violate the quorum mandate in the state constitution. That’s because the new laws give legislative committees the ability to halt the state litigation and suspend agency rules.
There are nine individuals plaintiffs on the case, including state Sen. Janet Bewley.
This case is the third pending against the lame duck bills. State Rep. Jimmy Anderson brought one claiming the last minute lame duck session last year violated open meetings laws. He uses a wheelchair to get around and says he didn’t get enough notice on when key votes would be held to make arrangements to get to the Capitol.
Other groups including the League of Women Voters Wisconsin are bringing a suit that claims the way the bills passed is unconstitutional. Attorney General Josh Kaul recused himself from representing the state in that suit, and hasn’t said whether or not he’ll represent the state in this suit.