updated 3/18/2011 1:42:11 PM ET 2011-03-18T17:42:11

A Wisconsin judge issued a temporary restraining order Friday blocking the state's new and contentious collective bargaining law from taking effect, raising the possibility that the Legislature may have to vote again to pass the bill.

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Lawmakers had passed Gov. Scott Walker's measure last week, breaking a three-week stalemate caused by 14 Senate Democrats fleeing to Illinois. Demonstrations against the measure grew as large as 85,000 people.

The law bars most public employees from collective bargaining. Pushed by the Republican governor, the bill was aimed at plugging a $137 million state budget shortfall. A part of the measure also would require state workers to increase their health insurance and pension contributions to save the state $30 million by July 1.

Dane County District Judge Maryann Sumi granted the restraining order in response to a lawsuit filed by the district attorney alleging that Republican lawmakers violated the state's open meetings law by hastily convening a special committee before the Senate passed the bill.

Video: Wis. judge blocks new union bill (on this page)

Sumi said her ruling would not prevent the Legislature from reconvening the committee with proper notice and passing the bill again.

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie would not comment on whether the governor would push to call the Legislature back to pass the bill again, either in its current form or with any changes. Werwie said Walker was confident the bill would become law in the near future.

"This legislation is still working through the legal process," Werwie said.

Opponents of the law were hopeful the judge's ruling would lead to concessions.

"I would hope the Republicans would take this as an opportunity to sit down with Democrats and negotiate a proposal we could all get behind," said Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach, one of the 14 senators who stayed in the neighboring state of Illinois for three weeks in an attempt to stop the bill from passing.

Video: 'Nuclear option' used to pass Wis. anti-union bill (on this page)

The head of the state's largest teachers union said the Legislature should use this as a chance to listen to opponents of the measure, not vote to pass the same bill again.

"Wisconsin's educators call upon the Legislature to take this as a clear signal that Wisconsinites will not tolerate backroom deals and political power plays when it comes to our public schools and other valued services," said Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne filed the lawsuit this week alleging the open meetings law was violated because 24 hours' notice wasn't given for a meeting of the special legislative committee convened to amend the bill.

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Video: Wis. judge blocks new union bill

  1. Closed captioning of: Wis. judge blocks new union bill

    >>> news coming to us from wisconsin where a judge has temporarily blocked new state laws curbing public union bargaining rights. nbc's john yang is following the developments for us from wisconsin . where do we stand?

    >> reporter: this ruling is not about the merits of the bill. it's not about the bill itself. it's about how they passed the bill. the judge in dane county , wisconsin , which is where madison, the state capital is, has issued a temporary restraining order that blocks the secretary of state from publishing the law. that's the official act that makes this lau, makes it effective. he was scheduled to publish it a week from today. would have become effective the next monday. but the judge is now ruling -- has ruled that they can't -- he should temporarily stop that. the issue is whether or not that senate republicans when they used a parliamentary maneuver to pass this bill without the democrats, whether they violated the open meeting law in wisconsin . that law requires 24-hour notice before any public -- before any meeting, legislative meeting or two hours' notice if it is an emergency. the senate clerk posted the notice about the meeting one hour and 55 minutes before the scheduled meeting. the senate clerk said that was enough time. but clearly the judge has ruled that she'd like to rule on the merits of the case. and just by issuing the temporary restraining order and in her ruling suggested that the opponents would prevail on this. but for now, it is temporarily blocked. the judge will have a hearing on the merits of the case and the judge has indicated at least that there is some chance that the opponents of this bill will prevail on this issue. contessa.

    >> all right, john, thank you for staying on top of that. and we will as well.


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