Wisconsin Legislature Wraps Up Session

When the Wisconsin State Assembly adjourned in the wee hours of Friday morning, thus ended the regular session of the 2009-1010 Legislature. What this means is that a piece of legislation that was not passed by both houses is dead for this session. Here is what happened to a few of the bills PROFS was lobbying on or monitoring in recent weeks:

PROFS lobbies for academic freedom: Senate Bill 523 would make it an unfair labor practice for state agencies, including the university, to use appropriated funds to discourage employees from forming a union. A concern was raised by a faculty member that this could have the effect of restricting a faculty member’s academic freedom. So PROFS worked with the author of the bill, State Senator Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee), on an amendment making it clear that academic freedom is not to be restricted by the language in the bill. SB 523, with the amendment, has passed the Legislature and has been referred to Governor Doyle.

Construction flexibility: PROFS took a position in favor of Senate Bill 298/Assembly Bill 427, which would have required less bidding on construction projects and allowed bigger contractors to do more subcontracting. The goal was to save money and streamline the process. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass after some senators said they did not like the idea of giving up legislative oversight (through the state’s Building Commission, which has a number of legislators on it). The bill or something similar can be introduced again next year, either as separate legislation or as part of a flexibilities package.

Contracting vs. state/university employees: Another bill that died was Senate Bill 447/Assembly Bill 792. PROFS did not take a position on this bill, but we were watching it closely. The goal was to bring more information to bear in decisions regarding the hiring of outside contractors when state or university employees might be able to do the same work at less cost.