Passing laws in the budgetI’m writing to applaud you on your Aug. 6 opinion regarding the hazards of Wisconsin passing non-financial laws in the budget process. My personal experience with this abomination hurt individuals, companies, their employees and taxpayers.
By: Pat Fallon, Hudson, Hudson Star-Observer
I’m writing to applaud you on your Aug. 6 opinion regarding the hazards of Wisconsin passing non-financial laws in the budget process. My personal experience with this abomination hurt individuals, companies, their employees and taxpayers.
While operating an EMS company in the Milwaukee area I along with two other plaintiffs brought suit against Milwaukee and four private EMS companies for unjustifiably keeping my company from appropriate participation in their 911 program. The suit involved violation of Wisconsin’s “Little Sherman” antitrust statute and misleading advertising.
Upon appeal the Appellate Court reversed the trial court on the cause of action related to advertising, but upheld it on the other two, albeit for different reasons. The Wisconsin Supreme Court reversed these two as well stating in their opinion that, if the plaintiffs can prove their allegations, they should prevail.
Proving the allegations was the easy part and we were in the process of gathering the evidence in the discovery phase for trial court when we got hit with another motion to dismiss. The basis of which was that Wisconsin at the instigation of Milwaukee passed a law as part of that year’s budget bill that gave Milwaukee enabling legislation to do whatever it wanted with its system and that Wisconsin intended that this law be retroactive.
The trial court granted the motion to dismiss on the basis of a supposedly out-of-date legal concept called “necessary implication.” In its perverted logic it opined that Wisconsin meant this new law to be retroactive. We, of course, appealed that decision.
Five years had now gone by from inception of the suit, and I was no longer able to fund the legal expense which by then exceeded $100,000. I had closed my company for financial reasons which had in great part to do with the Milwaukee system. So I settled for a small amount.
Afterwards I visited the Legislative Reference Bureau in Madison and found but a few pieces of paper that said hardly anything more than who introduced it and that it passed. I did find, however, a statute covering budget bills that stated that anything in the bill that was to be retroactive must be specifically so stated.
I then looked at the bill and it did state certain things to be applied retroactively, but my situation was not one of them. This statute requirement was not even brought up in trial court. Shame on the judge and the attorneys on both sides for not even knowing the applicable law.