Capitol access hearing delayedThe court battle over public access to the state Capitol has been postponed until late May.
By: Gil Halsted, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The court battle over public access to the state Capitol has been postponed until late May. That's when a Dane County judge will hold a hearing on a permanent injunction to lift current restrictions on access to the building.
Mike Huebsch, the secretary of the Department of Administration is actually facing two legal challenges over access to the Capitol. One calls for lifting the current rules that allow entrance and exit through only certain doors and require people to pass through metal detectors. The other seeks to hold Huebsch in contempt for shutting down the Capitol last week when the state Senate passed the budget repair bill. Attorney Peg Lautenschlager is representing the two state employee unions who filed the legal challenges. She says the goal is to make permanent a court order handed down on March 4th that requires the state to return access rules to what they were on January 28th, the week before the massive protest rallies began.
Lautenschlager says "the state is indicating that there is a higher security need and that had that security need been present on January 28th the same kinds of things would have been in place at that time. We disagree with that strongly."
In the meantime, Lautenschlager and Assistant Attorney General Steve Means are looking for what's called a "special master" --- someone who will mediate access to the state Capitol and determine whether the existing court order is being enforced. Although things are quiet at the Capitol now it's likely public hearings on the governor's biennial budget will draw large crowds before the May 23rd court hearing is held on just how open the capitol should be.