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Dane County judge questions latest legal challenge to Act 10

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(The Center Square) – The latest legal challenge to Act 10 does not try and undo the law based on anything that has to do with teachers, their contracts, or the changes that Republican lawmakers made to how those contract negotiations are made.

Instead, lawyers for the teachers union in Abbotsford focused their argument Tuesday against Act 10 based on what they say is different treatment for UW police officers and Wisconsin’s DOT vehicle inspectors.

“The way the legislature just designed the public safety classification, as I’ve mentioned, is simply irrational even considering the deference given to the legislature,” attorney Jacob Karabell argued.

But Dane County Judge Jacob Frost wasn’t necessarily buying that argument or the request from teachers unions to strike down all of Act 10 because one set of state employees was left out of Act 10’s carve-out.

“Act 10 has, as its stated purpose, to assist with budget balancing. And the issue that seems to be in front of me is not at all whether the legislature can issue laws to help control budgets. Of course they can,” Frost said. “It seems to be the decision to say there’s a category of people that are so important that we’re taking them out of that policy purpose.”

Frost also asked why he should strike down all of Act 10, as opposed to just reordering the different public safety categories.

“Would the remedy be to just get rid of the public safety group, and leave the law in place? Or can you speak to why is that classification, and having two groups so intertwined to the purpose of the law that I would have to strike the whole lot?” the judge asked.

Act 10 has faced several legal challenges since it passed in 2011, including a case that went to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

The courts have all held that Act 10 is legal and constitutional.

Lawyers for the teachers union in Abbotsford say they are bringing this case now because of the unequal treatment of public safety workers, but Republican lawmakers say they are challenging Act 10 now because the Wisconsin Supreme Court has a new liberal majority.

Supporters of Act 10 say the law has saved taxpayers billions of dollars since it was passed.

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