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Wisconsin Supreme Court: Milwaukee Forbidden From Enforcing Residency Requirement

Thomas Hawk, Flickr

 The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Thursdaythat Milwaukee can no longer enforce its residency requirement. The court decided 5-2 that the city's long-standing requirement that city workers also live in Milwaukee violates state law. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is furious, and says the state legislature, the governor's office, and the Supreme Court have all thumbed their nose at the concept of local control. 

"Seventy five years. For seventy five years this community has, in effect, an ordinance that says employees for the city of Milwaukee must live in this community. That they work here, they get paid here, they get good healthcare benefits here, they get a good pension here, and that they should be part of this community.”

Unions representing police and firefighters in Milwaukee challenged the residency rule.  The high court's decision reverses a state appeals court ruling. 

Milwaukee Professional Fire Fighters Association President David Seager says this issue, to him, has never been about local control. It's about personal choice. He says, "Whether it’s the choice to move outside the city, or whether it’s the choice to stay within the city. Every single one of those choices is based on an analysis of their own personal circumstances."

Milwaukee has more than 7,000 municipal employees; they've been required to live within the city boundaries for more than 75 years.  

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.
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