Legislative Update

Capitol & ForwardUW System Tenure Policy Task Force

PROFS continues to actively follow the work of UW System’s Tenure Policy Task Force and lobby for the best possible result. PROFS met with Regent Vice President and task force chair John Behling In late November to discuss the University Committee’s proposed changes to the task force draft recommendations and share information on existing post-tenure review practices. The task force will meet again on December 23 and is expected to forward recommendations to the Regent Education Committee for action in February. Full Board of Regent action is expected in March.

Possible Health Insurance Changes

The Wisconsin Group Insurance Board recently discussed a report recommending a change to self-insurance for state employees. The report’s author, Segal Consulting, maintains the switch could save the state $42 million, but in 2012 a different consultant found the change could cost the state $100 million. The board is scheduled to meet and vote on the recommendation in February. The legislature’s Joint Finance Committee must also approve any change.

Currently state employees can choose from 18 insurers, and state employees comprise 14 percent of the state’s health insurance market. Under self-insurance, the state would pay for benefits directly and assume risk. A private insurer would likely be hired to manage the program for the state.

Wisconsin Legislature

The Legislature finished its regular floor period on November 7 and held a one-day extraordinary session on November 16. While legislators are not expected to meet again in a floor period until January 12, committees continue to meet and hold executive sessions. PROFS is monitoring and lobbying on several items, including:

Assembly Bill 305/Senate Bill 260, Limits on Scientific Research

PROFS officially registered and delivered testimony against AB 305 and SB 260, proposals that would make it illegal to provide or use for experimentation fetal body parts. If passed, the bills would criminalize the research and use of scientific material previously derived from fetal tissue. Both bills have passed out of committee but have not been scheduled for a floor vote. PROFS will continue to strongly oppose the proposals, which have far-reaching negative consequences on campus.

Assembly Bill 480/Senate Bill 363, Campus Concealed Carry

PROFS is registered against AB 480 and SB 363, legislation that would require UW System and Wisconsin Technical College System campuses to allow concealed carry of weapons in campus buildings. Current law permits concealed carry on campus grounds, but allows individual campuses to forbid weapons in buildings. PROFS is vigorously opposed to this legislation telling legislators in a statement that “we believe that making it easier for people to carry firearms and bring them onto university property would make it more dangerous for the faculty, staff and student of the University of Wisconsin.”

 

December Board of Regent Meeting

uw system logoThe University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will meet at UW-Madison Thursday and Friday, December 10 and 11. All meetings will be held in Gordon Event Center, 770 West Dayton Street.

Regents meet in committee Thursday afternoon while the full board meets Friday morning.

The Education Committee will consider approval of several new degree programs and a reorganization at UW-Green Bay. The committee will also discuss a statement reiterating the board’s commitment to academic freedom and affirming the board’s commitment to freedom of expression:

The Business and Finance Committee will consider differential tuition at UW-Stevens Point and an alumni tuition proposal at UW-Eau Claire, discuss trust funds and contractual agreements, and hear a report on faculty and staff salary adjustments in 2015. UW System chancellors reallocated $12.1 million of the salary base for adjustments in 2015. 2,338 faculty received adjustments averaging $5,163. At UW-Madison, 102 faculty members received additional compensation averaging $3,377.

The Capital Planning and Budget Committee will consider authorization of a transfer of Vilas Trust funds for the UW-Madison Music Performance Building project, review changes to regent policy documents, and hear a report on State Building Commission action.

The Research, Economic Development, and Innovation Committee will hear an update from Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Secretary and CEO Mark Hogan. UW System President President Ray Cross will also share how UW System is helping with the state’s workforce needs.

The Audit Committee will hear a report from the chief audit executive.

On Friday the board will hear several reports:

  • Hospital Authority Board
  • Higher Educational Aids Board
  • Wisconsin Technical College System Board
  • Informational report on student debt and financial aid
  • UW-Green Bay NCAA Division I Athletics report

Updates on the work done by Tenure Policy Task Force and the Tuition-setting Policy Task Force will also be given.

Consultant Recommends Self-Insurance for State Employees

The Wisconsin Group Insurance Board met Tuesday and discussed a report (below) recommending self-insurance for state employees beginning in 2018. The board is scheduled to meet and vote on the recommendation on February 17.

Currently state employees can choose from 18 insurers, and state employees comprise 14 percent of the state’s health insurance market. Under self-insurance, the state would pay for benefits directly and assume risk. A private insurer would likely be hired to manage the program for the state.

Segal Consulting maintains a switch to self-insurance could save the state $42 million. A preliminary report from Segal in March suggested savings of $50-70 million, while a 2012 Deloitte report noted self-insurance could save the state $20 million but had the potential to cost as much as $100 million.

The Assembly passed a bill Monday that would require Joint Finance Committee approval of any self-insurance contract. A spokesperson for Governor Scott Walker told the Associated Press the governor would likely sign the proposal. Committee co-chair Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) said the committee will work with the Legislative Fiscal Bureau to determine how self-insurance may impact the state’s insurance market after the oversight bill is signed into law.

The Group Insurance Board approved several changes to state employee health plans earlier this year in an effort to cut costs to the state. Much of the savings will be realized through new deductibles and doubled out-of-pocket expenses for workers.

WI Group Insurance Board Segal Report

Legislative Update

BascHill_cap_autumn06_3425The Legislature finishes its current floor period Thursday, November 5 and will not meet again in regular session until January 12. PROFS is monitoring and lobbying on several items, including:

Limits on Scientific Research, Assembly Bill 305/Senate Bill 260PROFS officially registered and delivered testimony against AB 305 and SB 260, proposals that would make it illegal to provide or use for experimentation fetal body parts.

If passed, the bills would criminalize the use of scientific material previously derived from fetal tissue, which includes cell lines that have been in use for more than 30 years. Both bills have passed out of committee but have not been scheduled for a floor vote.

PROFS will continue to strongly oppose the proposals, which have far-reaching negative consequences on campus.

Campus Concealed Carry, Senate Bill 363, PROFS is registered against SB 363, legislation that would require UW System and Wisconsin Technical College System campuses to allow concealed carry of weapons in campus buildings. Current law permits concealed carry on campus grounds, but allows individual campuses to forbid weapons in buildings.

PROFS is vigorously opposed to this legislation saying last month that “we believe that making it easier for people to carry firearms and bring them onto university property would make it more dangerous for the faculty, staff and student of the University of Wisconsin.”

UW System Tenure Policy Task Force PROFS continues to follow the action of UW System’s Tenure Policy Task Force, which met in Madison on October 22 to discuss proposed language on faculty layoffs and post-tenure review. PROFS has a long history of lobbying for strong tenure and met with Regents Millner and Behling earlier this year to reiterate support for tenure protections that meet full AAUP standards.

GOP Legislative Priorities Republican legislative leaders have identified several priorities, including:

  • Civil service reform: legislation passed, but does not include UW employees.
  • Government Accountability Board overhaul: proposed legislation would eliminate the non-partisan GAB and replace it with two commissions—one on elections, the other on ethics, campaign finance and lobbying.
  • John Doe investigations: legislation passed prohibiting the use of John Doe probes when investigating misconduct in public office.
  • Campaign finance changes: proposed legislation would make it harder to learn the background of individual contributors and allow unions and corporations to donate unlimited amounts to political parties and legislative campaign committees.

University Committee Chair’s Message to Faculty on UW System Tenure Task Force

The following message was sent to UW-Madison faculty on Friday, October 23:

Dear UW-Madison faculty,

I know many of you have seen the letter that UW System President Ray Cross sent to the faculty representatives earlier this week. You may have also heard about some of the conversations that were held at the System tenure task force yesterday afternoon. I want to assure you that none of this changes our approach to developing tenure policies for this campus. Before Act 55, the state had a single statute that allowed campuses to develop and implement their own faculty policies and procedures. It has always been our assumption that the policy that will be developed by the Regents in response to Act 55 would similarly allow variations from campus to campus.

The documents that will be submitted to the Senate in November reflect input from the faculty listening sessions, as well as the written revisions submitted after the October Senate reading. We believe that our proposed policies are very strong. We have always been clear that we would draft UW-Madison policies that reflect the language in Act 55 and that are congruent with AAUP standards and our policies of shared governance and strong tenure protections.

I want to make it completely clear that nothing has changed in our approach and we look forward to discussing our proposals with you on November 2nd at the Faculty Senate.

Sincerely,

Beth Meyerand, University Committee Chair

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