MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin public employees will begin paying more for their health care and pension benefits in August, while unions there filed a second legal challenge to a new law amending collective bargaining privileges of public workers, according to the Associated Press.

An earlier lawsuit was decided Monday by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which said the state Legislature did not violate open government requirements when it passed a controversial measure that allows public employees to bargain over base wages only, AP reported. Local police, firefighters and state patrol are exempt, the report said.

The new suit, this one filed in federal court, claims that the law itself is unconstitutional. Wisconsin teachers unions are among the plaintiffs, according to AP.

The unions said they are not trying to block the new pension and health insurance requirements included in the new law, under which they will pay 12 percent of their health insurance and 5.8 percent of their pension costs, AP reported.

In related news, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has asked the Michigan Supreme Court for an advance ruling on whether repealing the income tax exemption on public pension income violates the state constitution, according to a report at Mlive.com.

SOURCES:

Associated Press, “New lawsuit filed against Wisconsin union law,” June 15, 2011

Mlive.com, “Gov. Rick Snyder asks Supreme Court to protect new tax on pensions,” June 2, 2011

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