Dems Float Open Meetings Bill

7/8/11 – A proposed constitutional amendment would make Wisconsin legislators do what local officials must do – follow the state’s Open Meeting Law. Assembly Democrats proposed the amendment Thursday. It comes in response to a sharply-divided State Supreme Court ruling which said a legislative panel did not break the law on March ninth, when it met with less than two hours of public notice to pass the bill which limits public union bargaining. The court reinstated the union law after a circuit judge had blocked it. The Supreme Court’s conservative majority said the meeting was legal as long as the doors were open. One justice went as far as saying the Legislature was exempt from the meeting law. It was the Legislature that caused the law to be adopted three-and-a-half decades ago, after a committee rewrote almost the entire 1975 state budget in secret. Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca said Wisconsin’s reputation for clean and open government is at risk because of what the G-O-P majority and the Supreme Court did. He says lawmakers are not a special class of citizens, and they shouldn’t put themselves above the law. Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald did not immediately comment on the measure. The amendment would need to be passed in two straight sessions and then by the voters in a statewide referendum