MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin officials couldn’t agree Friday on whether a controversial law taking away nearly all public worker collective bargaining rights was about to take effect after a nonpartisan legislative bureau published it despite a court order blocking implementation.

The Legislative Reference Bureau took the action at 3:15 p.m. Friday, sending lawmakers and legal experts scrambling to determine what’s next for the law, which first was proposed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Legislative Reference Bureau director Steve Miller said the action doesn’t mean the law takes effect today. He says that won’t  happen until Secretary of State Doug La Follette orders the law published in a newspaper, and a judge ordered last week that La Follette not do anything.

“It’s not implementation at all,” Miller said. “It’s simply a matter of forwarding an official copy to the secretary of state.”

La Follette said he didn’t know what the action means, but he’s not doing anything, given the court order.

But Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who said he went to the Reference Bureau with the idea, said the action means the law takes effect today. “It’s my opinion it’s published, it’s on the legislative website, it’s law,” he said. 

Walker’s top aide Mike Huebsch said he’d been notified that the law had been published. “The administration will carry out the law as required,” Huebsch said in a statement.

Calls requesting more clarification about whether Walker believed the law was indeed in effect were not returned.

A judge last week issued a restraining order blocking any further implementation of the law while the court considers challenges to its approval. The order specifically blocked La Follette from publishing the law.

But the Reference Bureau said it’s still required to publish every new law within 10 working days after it’s signed by the governor, on the date designated by the secretary of state.

Walker signed the collective bargaining measure March 11 and La Follette had designated Friday as the date of publication. But after the judge issued the restraining order, La Follette sent a letter to the Reference Bureau saying he was rescinding his setting of the publication date.

The state Department of Justice issued a statement saying it would evaluate how the publication of the law, which it said was lawful, affects the pending lawsuit. The statement did not say whether the action means the law takes effect today.