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Judge sets Jan. hearings for Milwaukee residency requirements

Hearings are set for January in the lawsuit filed by police and fire unions against the city of Milwaukee over residency requirements for city employees.

At a hearing Wednesday, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Van Grunsven allowed the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association Local 215 to join in a lawsuit alongside the original plaintiff, Milwaukee Police Association, Local 21, IUPA, AFL-CIO, and its members.

The city did not oppose the admission.

The suit challenges the legality of Milwaukee enforcing its residency requirements for city employees after those requirements were prohibited in the 2013 state budget.

In court, the judge confirmed with all parties the plaintiffs’ demands: a writ of mandamus forbidding the city from enforcing residency rules, a judgment on whether preventing employees to move violates a federally protected liberty interest, and a determination that the city’s enforcement of residency rules violates state law.

The city, in court documents, has argued the statute repealing residency rules goes against the Wisconsin Constitution’s home rule provisions, which give municipal governments control over local matters. Further, the city wants dismissal of the plaintiffs’ complaints.

For now, Milwaukee is under a temporary restraining order that prevents city officials from enforcing residency rules.

In court Wednesday, city attorney Grant Langley said no investigations were ongoing of complaints filed against employees who were reported to have moved out of Milwaukee.

Out of court, the MPA’s attorney, Jonathan Cermele, is working with the city to agree to a preliminary injunction while the court hears the case, Langley said. This would replace the standing temporary injunction and remove the need for a court hearing.

Barring a motion for discovery or other requests for an extension, the court will hear the case on Jan. 27.

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