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Court: Green Bay, Brown Co. don't have to keep old health plans for police, fire unions

WAUSAU, WI (WTAQ) - A state appeals court ruled Tuesday that Green Bay and Brown County do not have to keep their previous health plans in place, until they adopt new plans for law enforcement and fire personnel.

Those workers were exempt from the state's 2011 bargaining limits for most public unions. After a backlash, lawmakers later decided to prohibit police and fire unions from negotiating health insurance.

The Green Bay fire, police, and sheriff's unions challenged that provision. A circuit judge upheld it, and said health plans that were previously negotiated could stay in place until the city and county governments came up with something new.

Tuesday, the 3rd District Court of Appeals in Wausau said the local governments did not have to honor the previous health plans.

The appellate judges said the unions did not show how they would be harmed if the old plans were not honored. Those old plans expired at the end of last December.

A union attorney calls Tuesday's decision unfortunate, and it was not clear how the local governments would respond.