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Madison Metro’s rule prohibiting weapons on buses not preempted by state law

Wisconsin Carry, Inc. & Thomas Waltz v. City of Madison, 2015 WI App 74, petition for review granted 1/11/16, reversed 2017 WI 19; case activity (including briefs)

The state statute preempting certain local firearm regulations, § 66.0409(2), doesn’t apply to the rule prohibiting weapons on city buses adopted by the Madison Transit and Parking Commission. The plain language of the statute shows the legislature chose limited language that applies only to “ordinances” or “resolutions” enacted by a political subdivision, and the Commission’s rule isn’t an “ordinance” or “resolution” under well-established law, Cross v. Soderbeck, 94 Wis. 2d 331, 342, 288 N.W.2d 779 (1980).

¶9     …[W]hile Wisconsin Carry generally asserts that Wis. Stat. § 66.0409 preempts the bus rule, Wisconsin Carry does not argue that a rule adopted by a city agency, such as the commission here, fits within the plain meaning of either “ordinance” or “resolution” as those terms are used in the statute. To the contrary, Wisconsin Carry concedes at the outset of its briefing that the bus rule is not, in the words of Wisconsin Carry, “an enacted ordinance or an adopted resolution.” This is a significant concession. As noted, “statutory interpretation ‘begins with the language of the statute. If the meaning of the statute is plain, we ordinarily stop the inquiry.’” [State ex rel.] Kalal [ v. Circuit Court for Dane County, 2004 WI 58], 271 Wis. 2d 633, ¶45[, 681 N.W.2d 110]….

¶10     Instead, Wisconsin Carry effectively argues that the legislature did not mean what it said. Wisconsin Carry asks us to skip over an analysis of the words that the legislature chose and instead surmise that the legislature, in enacting Wis. Stat. § 66.0409, intended to achieve a more general preemption of locally generated firearms regulation. However, judicial restraint dictates that courts “assume that the legislature’s intent is expressed in the statutory language” chosen by the legislature. See Kalal, 271 Wis. 2d 633, ¶44. “It is the enacted law, not the unenacted intent, that is binding ….” Id. (emphasis added).

¶11     Moreover, as the circuit court explained, it would have been a simple matter for our legislature to use language that clearly prohibits local agency regulation of firearms by including additional language or more expansive language in the pertinent statute. Other states have done so. Kansas, for example, prohibits action not only by a “city or county,” but also by any “agent of any city or county.”… Our legislature remains free to adopt such language. But Wisconsin Carry cannot seriously argue that our legislature used the sort of broad language found in other jurisdictions.

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