Tag Archive for Legislation

Bipartisan Legislation on Faculty Entrepreneurial Efforts

PROFS is pleased that a bipartisan group of legislators is working to introduce legislation (below) related to University of Wisconsin research contracts. Last year, PROFS assembled a small group of faculty who have created businesses to examine ways to encourage UW-Madison faculty to become more entrepreneurial.

The group, led by the late Mark Cook (Animal Science), also included Chemistry professor Robert Hamers and emeritus professor Rock Mackie (Medical Physics). The group identified the need to change state statutes that regulate how the university contracts with companies in which faculty or other university employees have a financial interest, noting current law is slow and cumbersome and ultimately leads to lost contracts.

PROFS wrote a statement calling for new legislation and worked with UW-Madison attorneys on statutory language. Former Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls), chair of the Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges and a member of the Joint Finance Committee, agreed have the bill drafted. PROFS also secured the support of UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW System President Ray Cross.

Senators Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac) and Fred Risser (D-Madison) and Representatives David Murphy (R-Greenville) and Terese Berceau (D-Madison) have taken the lead on the bill and are encouraging their colleagues to support the legislation (below).

 

November Legislative Update

The Legislature has shifted its focus to pending legislation following the completion of the 2017-19 state budget earlier this fall. Both the Assembly and Senate have scheduled committee work and several days of floor debate before the Legislature concludes its work next month. PROFS is closely monitoring several bills that could severely affect UW-Madison:

  • Bills Limiting Scientific Research, Senate Bills 422 & 423  Last week, the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety discussed two bills that would limit the use of fetal tissue in scientific research. PROFS is registered against SB 423 and presented testimony against the bill. Our statement is here.
  • Assembly Bill 206  PROFS is also registered against AB 206, a bill that would restrict abortion-related activities of UW System and UW Hospitals and Clinics employees. UW School of Medicine and Public Health Dean Robert Golden testified in July this bill would seriously hamper student training in obstetrics and gynecology and could possibly jeopardize the medical school’s accreditation.
  • Campus Carry  Supporters of campus carry have said they intend to introduce legislation allowing concealed weapons on campus, but nothing has been introduced to date. PROFS is opposed to campus carry and continues to carefully monitor the issue.

Regent Update

  • UW System Restructuring  The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents announced a major reorganization of UW Colleges and Extension last month. Under the proposal, UW Colleges would be integrated with four-year institutions, Cooperative Extension would become part of UW-Madison, and Wisconsin Public Television would shift to UW System. The Regents are expected to vote on the implementation of the plan Thursday.
  • Administrative Hiring  The Regents adopted new rules relating to the hiring of top administrators. Under new rules, institutions cannot require top administrators to hold a terminal degree or have tenure. UW-Madison Faculty Policies & Procedures had such a rule in place. The new rules also cut the number of faculty on search committees and call for recruiting more candidates from the private sector. PROFS was opposed to the changes and strongly encouraged Regents to reconsider their plan. Our statement is on the PROFS website and Facebook page.
  • Campus Speech  The Regents also adopted new rules relating to freedom of expression on campus. The new language outlines specific punishment, including suspension, for students who violate the policy.

Campus Speech Bill Passes Assembly

Assembly Bill 299, dubbed the Campus Free Speech Act, passed the Assembly Wednesday, June 21 on a 61-36 vote. Republican Bob Gannon of West Bend joined the Democrats in opposing the bill. A statement of PROFS’ opposition to the bill is here.

Representative Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum), the bill’s main author, maintains the legislation is necessary to ensure all voices are heard on campus, citing incidents at Middlebury College and the University of California-Berkeley as evidence that free speech is stifled on college campuses.

PROFS lobbied against the bill, noting that in 2010 the University of Wisconsin Faculty Senate adopted a policy (Faculty Document 2186) that protects speech on campus. In 2015, the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents adopted a resolution affirming academic freedom, including free speech, on all UW campuses.

Under the amended bill (below), the Board of Regents would be required to adopt a policy that would apply to all UW System institutions and supersede any existing Regent or campus policies. The legislation also requires mandatory punishments for students violators and employee and new student training on free speech annually.

The bill now moves to the State Senate.

PROFS Statement on AB 299, Relating to Campus Speech

PROFS is registered against Assembly Bill 299, legislation that would require the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents to adopt a policy on free expression on all two and four-year campuses. This new policy would supersede any previous Regent rules or individual campus policies.

The Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee is scheduled to vote on an amended version of AB 299 at 1:30 pm, Tuesday, May 30.

In 2010, the UW-Madison Faculty Senate amended its Faculty Policies and Procedures to  provide “principled protection for faculty engaged in speech pursuant to their official duties.” The amendment (below) also provided a definition of academic freedom.

 

Students Plan Day of Action in Opposition to Campus Carry

UW-Madison student leaders have planned a day of action on Thursday, December 15 to oppose allowing concealed carry weapons on campus. While a bill allowing campus carry died in committee last session, State Representative Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) said at a campus forum last month that he intents to reintroduce the bill in 2017.

The group is also collecting signatures of students, faculty, staff and parents opposed to campus carry.

PROFS registered in opposition to campus carry last session and offered this statement on the legislation:

 

 

Legislative Update

state_capitol_dawn07_4080Tenure and Shared Governance

The Board of Regents met last month and approved three policies related to tenure, post-tenure review, and faculty layoffs. The meeting was contentious at times as the board rejected three faculty-supported amendments offered by Regent Tony Evers.

The language approved by the board was broad and intends to serve as an umbrella policy for individual campuses. The Regent Education Committee will consider UW-Madison’s faculty layoff policy (below), approved by the Faculty Senate in November, at its meeting in Green Bay later this week.

Wisconsin Legislature

Republican legislative leaders have said the legislature has concluded its regular 2015-16 session. The legislature is unlikely to meet again this spring, but could reconvene in special or extraordinary sessions later this year. PROFS monitored and lobbied on the following bills this session:

Assembly Bill 305/Senate Bill 260, Limits on Scientific Research—Passed committee, never brought to the floor

PROFS registered against AB 305 and SB 260, proposals that would make it illegal to provide or use for experimentation fetal body parts.

Assembly Bill 480/Senate Bill 363, Campus Concealed Carry—In Committee

PROFS registered against AB SB 363, legislation that would have 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.

Assembly Bill 485/Senate Bill 365, Bans Guns on College Campuses—In Committee

PROFS registered in favor of this bill, which would ban guns on college campuses.

Assembly Bill 814, Shared Governance—In Committee

PROFS registered in favor of this bill, which would have returned university, shared governance to state statutes.

Assembly Bill 898, Tenure—In Committee

PROFS registered in favor of this bill, which would have restored strong tenure language to state statutes.

College Affordability Package—Four bills signed into law

Governor Walker signed four of six bills into law last month. A 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.

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.

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.