This legislative update was distributed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Faculty Senate meeting today. The senate meets the first Monday of every month at 3:30 pm in Room 272 Bascom Hall during the academic year, October through May, except in January.
Governor Tony Evers signed Assembly Bill 38 into law last Thursday, November 21. The legislation, named after the late UW-Madison Animal Science professor Mark Cook, streamlines the process by which University of Wisconsin faculty members can enter into research contracts involving the university and an organization with which the same faculty members are connected.
This bipartisan legislation was a top priority for PROFS and was the result of the work of the PROFS Entrepreneurial Work Group, which was led by Cook before his untimely passing.
UW System President Ray Cross said “This law will help accelerate the critical research UW System does to benefit Wisconsin and the world. We’re grateful to the Legislature and Gov. Evers for their bipartisan support of this new law.”
Thanks to Governor Evers for signing the bill and to Representatives Dave Murphy (R-Greenville) and Shelia Stubbs (D-Madison) and Senators Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac) and Fred Risser (D-Madison) for authoring the bill.
Assembly Bill 38 and Senate Bill 42, bipartisan legislation dubbed the Mark Cook Bills, have begun to move through the legislative process. These companion bills are a top legislative priority for PROFS and honor the late UW-Madison Animal Sciences Professor Mark Cook.
Three years ago, PROFS created the Entrepreneurial Work Group, which was led by Cook, to create legislation that would expedite and strengthen the process for Board of Regent approval of projects that involve companies or non-profit organizations in which faculty or staff have a financial interest. Last session, the legislation was approved unanimously in committee and by voice vote in the Assembly, but never received a floor vote in the Senate before the end of the session.
The Assembly Constitution and Ethics Committee heard testimony today on AB 38 (below). Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council offered written testimony in favor of the bill, telling the committee that Cook’s “work was sometimes slowed by rules that had either outlived their usefulness, stood at odds with processes at other major universities, or simply cost Wisconsin entrepreneurs time and money. Time and money are two commodities that must be carefully guarded by young companies, often making the difference between success and failure.” A senate hearing on the SB 42 is scheduled for May 7.
2019-21 Biennial Budget
Governor Tony Evers introduced his state budget last week. The governor’s higher education budget includes increases of $44.7 million in FY20 and $66 million in FY21 and $40.4 million for a 2% pay plan for UW System employees, including UW-Madison faculty.
- $45 million for capacity building initiatives
- $5 million for UW Colleges student support services
- 2-year tuition freeze, including $50.4 million to fund the freeze
- $10 million for a nurse educators program
- $17.4 million for Wisconsin Grants, a need-based grant program for Wisconsin students
- $3.5 million and 20 FTE for UW Extension agriculture representatives
- $500,000 for environmental education at UW-Stevens Point
- $18 million for a general increase to the Wisconsin Technical College System
- Resident tuition for undocumented Wisconsin residents
The state budget process is a months-long process that stretches into summer. The Joint Finance Committee and both houses of the state legislature must approve the plan before it is returned to the governor for his vetoes and final approval. PROFS has already begun meeting with members of the governor’s staff and key legislators to discuss items important to UW-Madison faculty.
State Budget Forum
PROFS, along with WISCAPE and the Wisconsin Alumni Association, is planning a campus forum on the state budget on April 2. More information coming soon.
Mark Cook Bill
Assembly Bill 38 and Senate Bill 42, dubbed the “Mark Cook bills,” were introduced last month. This bipartisan bill would streamline and strengthen the law governing contracts between the university and a private company or nonprofit group in which a faculty member has a financial interest. The PROFS Entrepreneurial Work Group developed this draft legislation which honors the late faculty member and entrepreneur who chaired the work group. Similar legislation was introduced last session and passed the Assembly but was not scheduled for a Senate vote.
The Legislature concluded its regular session work in March, passing several items key to Governor Scott Walker’s re-election agenda including a school safety passage, an overhaul of the juvenile corrections system, and a one-day sales tax holiday and $100 per child tax credit. The Legislature did not take action on the following:
PROFS worked with faculty experts to develop bipartisan legislation that would change state statutes that regulate how the university contracts with companies in which faculty or other university employees have a financial interest. AB 758 passed the Assembly, but was not scheduled for a vote in the Senate.
Bill Limiting University of Wisconsin OB/GYN Training, Assembly Bill 206
PROFS registered against AB 206, a bill that would restrict abortion-related activities of UW System and UW Hospitals and Clinics employees. This bill died in committee.
PROFS registered in support of legislation that would restore language relating to tenure and shared governance to state statues, provisions that were removed as part of the 2015-17 state budget. These bills died in committee.
PROFS registered agains SB 423, and monitored additional bills that would have limited the use of fetal tissue in scientific research. SB 422 received a public hearing but was never scheduled for a floor vote, the remaining bills died in committee.
PROFS registered in support of this legislation that would eliminate several duplicative reports and allow graduate health science classes to start before September 1. These bills died in committee.
PROFS President Dorothy Farrar Edwards and Legislative Representative Jack O’Meara traveled to Washington, DC last month as part of the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s UW-Madison Day. They met with members of the Wisconsin Congressional Delegation including Senator Tammy Baldwin and Congressmen Mark Pocan and Glenn Grothman, and staff from the offices of House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Ron Johnson.
The Legislature is expected to wrap up the 2018 session this month and PROFS is closely monitoring several bills. More information on PROFS lobbying effort is here:
Directed by faculty experts, PROFS worked with a bipartisan group of legislators to introduce legislation related to University of Wisconsin research contracts. The faculty group, led by the late Mark Cook (Animal Science), 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. AB 758 has passed the Assembly and PROFS is hopeful it will be scheduled for a Senate vote later this month.
Bill Limiting University of Wisconsin OB/GYN Training, 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 the bill would seriously hamper student training in obstetrics and gynecology and could possibly jeopardize the medical school’s accreditation.
PROFS is registered in support of legislation that would restore statutory language relating to tenure and shared governance to state statues. These provisions were removed as part of the 2015-17 state budget.
PROFS is carefully monitoring two bills that would limit the use of fetal tissue in scientific research and is registered against Senate Bill 423. Our statement is on the PROFS website and Facebook page.
PROFS is registered in support of this legislation that would eliminate several duplicative reports and allow graduate health science classes to start before September 1.
Shared Governance Forum
PROFS is planning a campus forum on shared governance – what it is, how it works on a flagship campus that is part of a system, and why it leads to best business practices. A date and more details to come soon.
PROFS President Dorothy Farrar Edwards and Legislative Representative Jack O’Meara will participate in the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s UW-Madison Day in Washington, DC on Wednesday, March 14. They will also meet with members of the Wisconsin Congressional Delegation during their time in on Capitol Hill.
PROFS registered in favor of two recently introduced Senate bills. Senate Bill 823 restores tenure to state statutes and Senate Bill 824 restores university shared governance to state statutes. Both provisions had been in state law but were removed in 2015 as part of Act 55, the 2015-17 biennial budget. State Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison) and State Representative Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) are lead authors of the legislation (below).
The Legislature is in the final weeks of the 2018 session and PROFS is closely monitoring several bills that could that could seriously affect UW-Madison:
- “Mark Cook Bills” to Assist Faculty Entrepreneurship, Assembly Bill 758 and Senate Bill 671 Directed by faculty experts, PROFS worked with a bipartisan group of legislators to introduce legislation related to University of Wisconsin research contracts. The faculty group, led by the late Mark Cook (Animal Science), 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. Both bills have passed through committee and PROFS expects them to be scheduled for a floor vote sometime this month.
- Bills Limiting Scientific Research, Assembly Bills 83 & 549 and Senate Bills 422 & 423 PROFS is carefully monitoring two bills that would limit the use of fetal tissue in scientific research and is registered against Senate Bill 423. Our statement is on the PROFS website and Facebook page.
- Bill Limiting University of Wisconsin OB/GYN Training, 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 the 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.
Wisconsin Retirement System Seminar
PROFS is cosponsoring a La Follette School of Public Affairs seminar on the history of the Wisconsin Retirement System at 12:30 pm on Wednesday, February 21 in Union South. Wisconsin’s pension system is regarded as one of the best, and Gary Gates, the first secretary of the Department of Employee Trust Funds, will explain how the system was created and why Wisconsin has not experienced shortfalls like many other states.
The Wisconsin Spring Primary is Tuesday, February 20. The only statewide race on the ballot is for Wisconsin Supreme Court where three candidates are vying for two spots on the April 3 general election ballot. More information on voting in Wisconsin is here.
PROFS Steering Committee member Judith Burstyn recently met with Congressman Mark Pocan as a member of his Higher Education Advisory Group. Pocan gave the group an update on Congressional action related to higher-education policy and federally funded research.
Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Commerce and Local Government held a public hearing on Senate Bill 671, also referred to as the Mark Cook Bill. The bill would change state statutes that regulate how the university contracts with companies in which faculty or other university employees have a financial interest.
UW-Madison professor Jamey Weichert (Radiology) and emeritus professors Richard Burgess (Oncology and Biomedical Engineering) and Rock Mackie (Engineering Physics and Medical Physics) delivered the following testimony:
PROFS strongly supports Assembly Bill 758/Senate Bill 671, dubbed the Mark Cook Bill, recently-introduced bipartisan legislation (below) that would change state statutes that regulate how the university contracts with companies in which faculty or other university employees have a financial interest. PROFS convened a group of entrepreneurial faculty to develop the legislation.
UW-Madison Animal Sciences Professor Mark Cook, who passed away in September, served as chair of the PROFS Entrepreneurial Work Group, comprised of UW-Madison faculty who started successful companies. A self-described “chickenologist,” Mark created four companies from his research and his work led to 50 patents. He attracted and mentored other researchers who had a similar entrepreneurial spirit.
Mark’s spinoff Ab E Discovery, is “set to smash business as usual,” according to an article by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). Ab E Discovery, which will soon be breaking ground on Wisconsin operations, is advancing a natural, drug-free method to protect poultry, pigs, dairy and beef cattle against common infections.
Mark Cook died of cancer on September 9, 2017, at age 61. A native of Houma, Louisiana, Mark joined the faculty at UW-Madison in 1982. Upon his death, an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said Mark “embodied the Wisconsin Idea” – the belief that “education should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom.” Mark had a positive impact on everyone he met, including the students who learned from him and worked alongside him in his lab.
Mark felt very strongly about the statutory changes contained in AB 758/SB 671. Mark recognized that Wisconsin law is out of step with the modern research and business worlds because it includes an overly cumbersome and lengthy process for allowing research companies to contract with the university when a faculty or staff member has a financial interest in the company.
Even relatively small contracts (any contract exceeding $250,000 over a two-year period) must receive a 45-day review by the UW System Board of Regents despite previous review by university officials.
The law hinders the UW’s ability to move quickly to bring in R&D expenditures from businesses and
other funding entities. These funds are significant revenue sources at other universities. It is not a coincidence that the two universities that recently overtook UW-Madison in the overall research ranking do a much better job of attracting outside private funding for research projects.
Research companies connected to UW-Madison researchers have been forced to take initiatives such as clinical trials to other states. And top UW-Madison faculty have been recruited to universities where they can work more collaboratively with businesses and other funding entities.
PROFS thanks Representatives Dave Murphy and Terese Berceau and Senators Dan Feyen and Fred Risser, along with other co-sponsors, for introducing this important legislation to streamline the process. The legislation will eliminate the 45-day delay and instead create a much more reasonable process that will continue to address conflicts and protect the university’s interests.
AB 758/SB 671 will require that the individual or body responsible for managing potential conflicts of interest at the UW institution (e.g. UW-Madison) that employs the faculty or staff member has an interest in the company issue a management plan evaluating and addressing the interest. Additional contacts will be allowed to proceed as long as such a plan is in place.
AB 758/SB 671 will also amend the definition of research company in the statutes to include non-profits as well as commercial businesses. Many non-profit entities fund a significant amount of research.
The Assembly Committee on Constitution and Ethics will hold a public hearing on AB 758 at 1 p.m., Thursday, January 11, in Room 300 Northeast of the State Capitol.
PROFS looks forward to working with other supporters of this legislation to ensure it becomes law.