From Journal Sentinel:
The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Milwaukee police officers and other municipal employees can no longer be required to live in the city.
In the 5-2 ruling, the court found a 2013 law prevented the city from enforcing a long-standing rule requiring workers to live within its boundaries. The city had argued it could continue to enforce the residency requirement because the state constitution grants local governments broad powers.
“The Legislature has the power to legislate on matters of local affairs when its enactment uniformly affects every city or every village, notwithstanding the home rule amendment,” Justice Michael Gableman wrote for the majority. “Because (the 2013 law) uniformly affects every city or village, it trumps section 5-02 of the city’s charter. Milwaukee may no longer enforce its residency requirement.”
The unions contended residency requirements were an issue of statewide concern because lawmakers have an interest in addressing the welfare of municipal employees and make sure they are treated fairly.
Milwaukee’s deputy city attorney, Miriam Horwitz, has argued the issue was strictly local, saying each municipality had unique reasons for establishing residency requirements that vary considerably from one community to another.
The high court didn’t weigh in on whether residency rules were primarily a matter of statewide or local concern, saying it didn’t need to address that matter. Instead, it upheld the limits on residency requirements by concluding they applied the same to all cities and villages.
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