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The Latest: Court refuses to delay special election order

Wisconsin state Capitol (WLUK file photo/Scott Hurley)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Latest on Wisconsin special elections (all times local):

2:40 p.m.

Gov. Scott Walker plans to ask the state Supreme Court to delay a court order that he schedule special elections to fill two legislative vacancies.

Walker has refused to order elections to fill Rep. Keith Ripp and Sen. Frank Lasee's seats. He says the elections would confuse voters and waste tax dollars when regular elections are set for fall.

A Madison judge last week ordered him to schedule the elections by noon on Thursday. Walker asked the 2nd District Court of Appeals on Wednesday to both review that decision and delay the order to April 6.

The appellate court refused to delay the order. State attorneys have alerted the state Supreme Court that they plan to ask the justices to issue an order before noon Thursday delaying the scheduling to April 6.

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2:25 p.m.

A state appeals court has denied Gov. Scott Walker's request to delay a court order that he schedule special elections to fill two legislative vacancies in no uncertain terms.

Walker has refused to order special elections to fill Rep. Keith Ripp and Sen. Frank Lasee's seats. Both quit in December to join Walker's administration, saying the elections would confuse voters and amount to an unnecessary waste of tax dollars when regular elections are set for fall.

State law requires Walker to order special elections to fill vacancies that occur before May of an election year. A Madison judge last week ordered him to order the special elections by noon Thursday.

The state Justice Department asked the 2nd District Court of Appeals on Wednesday morning to give Walker until April 6 to call the elections. The court denied the request Wednesday afternoon, writing that electing representatives is never a waste of tax dollars and Walker is obligated to order special elections.

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11:15 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald is defending his proposal to eliminate requirements for prompt special elections to fill legislative vacancies.

The bill would prohibit special elections after the spring election in years with fall legislative elections and extending the period between scheduling an election and executing it.

Fitzgerald introduced the bill after a judge ordered Gov. Scott Walker to schedule special elections to fill two legislative vacancies. Democrats say Walker is delaying because he's afraid Republicans could lose the seats.

Fitzgerald told the Senate elections committee that oversea voters need more time to return ballots and holding special elections simultaneously with regular elections is a confusing waste.

Democratic Sen. Mark Miller questioned why Fitzgerald introduced the bill immediately following the judge's order. He said the measure could leave people unrepresented.

Fitzgerald said people would still have representation since Assembly and Senate districts overlap.

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10:50 a.m.

Gov. Scott Walker wants a state appeals court to immediately rule that he can delay calling special elections for two vacant legislative seats.

The state Department of Justice on Wednesday asked the 2nd District Court of Appeals in Waukesha to give Walker until April 6 to call the elections.

A Dane County judge on Tuesday rejected Walker's request for the delay. The Senate is returning on April 4 to vote on a bill that would prohibit any special legislative elections this year. Walker argues that would make the lawsuit moot and negate the need for calling special elections.

Walker is required under a judge's order from last week to call the special elections no later than noon on Thursday. He's now asking the appeals court to rule by 9 a.m. Thursday on his request for the delay.

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9:25 a.m.

The state Department of Justice is appealing a Madison judge's order requiring Gov. Scott Walker to call special elections to fill two vacant legislative seats.

Walker has refused to call special elections to replace Rep. Keith Ripp and Sen. Frank Lasee, who resigned in December to join Walker's administration. Current state law requires Walker to call special elections to fill vacancies that occur before early May of an election year but he has refused to schedule the contests.

Dane County Circuit Judge Josann Reynolds ordered Walker last week to call for the two elections by Thursday. The DOJ, which is representing Walker, notified the 2nd District Court of Appeals on Wednesday that the agency would appeal.

Republicans are rushing a bill through the Legislature that would eliminate requirements that the governor promptly call special elections to fill legislative vacancies.

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8:30 a.m.

Lawmakers are set to take comments on a bill that would eliminate requirements that the governor promptly call special elections to fill legislative vacancies.

The Senate elections committee was set to hold a hearing on the measure Wednesday.

Gov. Scott Walker has refused to call special elections to replace state Rep. Keith Ripp and Sen. Frank Lasee, who resigned in December to join Walker's administration. Current state law requires Walker to call special elections to fill vacancies that occur before early May of an election year but he has refused to schedule the contests.

A judge last week ordered Walker to schedule the elections by Thursday. Republicans responded with a bill that prohibits special elections from being held after the spring election in a year with fall legislative elections.

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