Legislative Update

Capitol & ForwardThe 2011-12 regular legislative session ended March 16, drawing to a close one of the most divisive and contentious sessions in recent memory. Many of the bills that PROFS monitored and lobbied on were not acted upon, effectively killing the proposals:

  • Rehired Annuitants Two bills affecting rehired annuitants were introduced. Assembly Bill 318 would have requires retired annuitants who work at least half-time to forgo their annuity payments. Rehired annuitants would also be ineligible to accrue retirement benefits while working, but could receive group insurance benefits. Current law requires a 30-day waiting period before an annuitant may be rehired, and the bill would have changed the waiting period to 75 days. Assembly Bill 352 would have required a 180-day waiting period for rehiring annuitants and would disallow annuity payments to retired workers who work half-time or more. AB 352 died in committee. AB 318 passed the assembly but died in the senate.
  • Optional Retirement Plan Assembly Bill 539 would have given the University of Wisconsin System the authority to create an optional retirement plan for employees hired after the effective date of the legislation.  The bill died in committee.
  • Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) Senate Joint Resolution 48 was a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit state and local growth to the Consumer Price Index and population growth rate. The proposal would not take into consideration the deep cuts the university has endured over the past several years and would restrict increased funding for the university when the state’s economy returns to a normal rate of growth. PROFS opposed this legislation, which died in committee.
  • Stem Cell Research (Assembly Bill 214 and Senate Bill 172)  These bills would have made it illegal to provide or use for experimentation fetal body parts. PROFS opposed both bills, which  died in committee.
  • WiscNet (Assembly Bill 473 and Senate Bill 375)  These bills, which had bipartisan support and were supported by a range of educational and community groups, would  have delayed the restrictions on participation by the University of Wisconsin System in selling or providing telecommunications services by one year (from July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014). The Legislative Audit Bureau has been charged with conducting an audit of WiscNet, and a delay would allow the legislature and participating organizations, including UW-Madison, time to fully review the audit and possibly implement audit recommendations. PROFS supported these bills, which died in committee.
  • UW Restructuring Task Force (Senate Bill 184)  This bill, as amended, would have changed the reporting date for the Special Task Force on UW Restructuring and Operational Flexibilities from January 1, 2012 to July 31, 2013, and given the task force the ability to postpone the report until August 31, 2012. The amended bill, which PROFS supported, passed.

The surprise resignation by Senator Pam Galloway (R-Wausau) leaves Senate in bipartisan control. Galloway faced a recall election on June 5, but cited medical issues among family members as the reason for stepping down halfway into her first term. Three additional senators face recall on June 5 — Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls), and Van Wanggaard (R-Racine). Steven Walters of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offered an excellent analysis of the Senate and its many upcoming elections last week.