Court finds state law repealing residency an unconstitutional violation of home rule.
Madison – Today State Senator Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) released the following statement regarding a Wisconsin Court of Appeals’ ruling that the state violated the Wisconsin Constitution’s home rule provisions in its repeal of Milwaukee’s residency requirement for city employees – a requirement Milwaukee enacted in 1938.
Home rule holds that any state law must yield to local law unless it involves matter of statewide concern and it affects every city or village with uniformity.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for the principle of local control and home rule enshrined in the State Constitution,” said Carpenter.
“The repeal of residency requirements was slipped into the 2013-2014 state budget only after it failed to pass as a stand-alone bill for more than 3 decades. It was a priority for a small but vocal and politically-connected minority of police and fire union members. This minority had been frustrated that it could never convince state legislators to violate the conservative principle of local control. However, by finally putting the repeal in the budget – where the majority party requires its members to blindly vote “yes” – was how residency was finally repealed,” said Carpenter.
“Repealing residency meant that the city’s taxpayers were forced to pay the salaries and benefits of those employees who no longer pay property taxes in the city, or contribute economically by patronizing local businesses. The city taxpayers were forced to pay its taxes to absentee employees who were allowed to abandon the city,” said Carpenter.
“I am grateful that the court gave the authority on this issue back to the local government where it belongs,” said Carpenter.