Legislative Update

Capitol & ForwardUW System Tenure Policy Task Force
PROFS continues to actively follow the work of the UW System Tenure Policy Task Force. The Board of Regents meets Thursday, March 10 and will discuss recommendations of the Regent Education Committee. Board action on UW-Madison’s draft policy is not expected until April.

Wisconsin Legislature
Republican leadership has said the Assembly has adjourned for the session, but the Senate plans to meet again March 15. Both houses could reconvene in special or extraordinary sessions. PROFS is monitoring and lobbying on several items:

  • Assembly Bill 305/Senate Bill 260, Limits on Scientific Research  PROFS is registered 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. Action on the bills seems unlikely.
  • Assembly Bill 480/Senate Bill 363, Campus Concealed Carry  PROFS is registered against AB 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.
  • Assembly Bill 814, Shared Governance  PROFS is registered in favor of this bill, recently introduced by Representative Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), which would return university shared governance to state statutes.
  • Assembly Bill 898, Tenure  PROFS is registered in favor of this bill, recently introduced by Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine). The proposal restores strong tenure language to state statutes.
  • College Affordability Package  The Governor announced a package of six bills that address college affordability last month. All six bills passed the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities and five of the six passed the Senate last week. The PROFS statement on the bills is here.
  • Senate Bill 276, Parking Revenue  Governor Walker signed this bill into law. It allows the university to spend parking revenue on campus safety and transportation programs. PROFS registered in favor of this proposal.
  • Senate Bill 571, Sale of Agricultural Lands  Governor Walker signed this bill into law. It expands UW System Board of Regent authority over agricultural lands. PROFS registered in favor of this proposal.

PROFS Forum on Self-insurance for State Employees
The Group Insurance Board met last month and voted to issue a request for proposals on self-insurance for state employees. PROFS hosted a forum featuring three insurance experts the following week. Video here.

Alice Dreger: Galileo’s Middle Finger

Alice Dreger

PROFS is pleased to cosponsor a public discussion with Alice Dreger, a former clinical professor at Northwestern University.

Dreger, author of Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science, will talk about academic freedom and how it relates to research. She will also share ways in which researchers can work individually and together to protect themselves.

She will speak at noon, Friday, March 4 in the Wisconsin Idea Room in the Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall.

This is event is hosted by the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE) and cosponsored by the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, the Department of History ​of Science, and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab.

PROFS Self-Insurance Forum

Video from the February 23 PROFS forum on self-insurance for state employees is embedded below.

The forum attracted more than 150 members of the university community. The panelists — UW-Madison School of Business professor Justin Sydnor; Lisa Ellinger, Director of Office of Strategic Health Policy with the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds; and Mike Bare, Research and Program Coordinator for the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute — offered their thoughts on self-insurance and took questions from the audience.

Many thanks to the panelists for sharing their expertise and offering their invaluable insight on this important topic.

Governor Walker Announces New Regents

uw system logoGovernor Scott Walker announced the appointment of three new members to the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents earlier this month. Tracey Klein, a Milwaukee attorney, and Bryan Steil, a Beloit attorney, will serve regular seven-year terms, while Lisa Erickson, a UW-River Falls journalism student, will serve a two-year term as non-traditional student regent.

Klein is a shareholder at the Milwaukee law firm of Reinhart Boerner Van Dueren where she chairs their health care practice. She is a member of the UW-Madison Political Science Department Board of Visitors, the Marquette University Law School Board of Visitors, and the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District Board of Directors. She is a graduate of UW-Madison and Marquette University Law School. The Capital Times reported she is a generous contributor to Governor Walker.

Steil is associate general counsel at Regal Beloit. He previously worked as a legislative assistant to Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Janesville). He is a graduate of Georgetown University and the University of Wisconsin Law School. His grandfather, George K. Steil, Sr., was a member of the Board of Regents from 1990 to 1997.

Erickson, of Osceola, is a former catering company owner. In addition to being a student, she writes a weekly food column and is a crisis pregnancy counselor.

PROFS Statement on College Affordability Bills

The Wisconsin Assembly is scheduled to vote today on a package of bills designed to improve college affordability. The bills were announced by Governor Scott Walker and quickly approved by the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee last month. The bills have widespread Republican support, but Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said lower-than-expected tax revenues may pare back funding for the proposals.

While PROFS is pleased the governor and legislative leaders are discussing college affordability we strongly believe renewing the state’s commitment to public higher education is the most effective way to keep college costs down.

Spring Primary Tuesday

election dayThe Wisconsin spring primary election will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, February 16. Polls will be open from 7 am to 8 pm statewide. Photo identification is required to vote.

UW-Madison professor Ken Mayer and others in the Political Science Department will study how voter identification rules affect the length of time it takes to cast a vote and work with local clerks to improve efficiency in future elections.

A primary election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court is the only statewide race on the ballot. Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley faces challengers Joe Donald, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge and JoAnne Kloppenburg, State Court of Appeals Judge. Governor Scott Walker appointed Bradley to the court in October following the death of Justice David Prosser. The top two vote-getters will face off on Tuesday, April 5.

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