Welcome to the UW System Government Relations Newsletter. The UW System Office of Government Relations provides legislative and political updates that impact the University of Wisconsin System at the state and federal level.
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Recap of Joint Committee on Finance
The Joint Committee on Finance held an executive session on Tuesday, June 8, and acted on UW System’s Capital Budget. The Committee approved funding for our All Agency request as well as several campus projects, which include:
- Minor Facilities 1 - $56.6 million GFSB/PRSB
- UWSP Albertson Hall Replacement - $96 million GFSB
- UW-Oshkosh Clow Hall Renovation - $26.9 million GFSB
- UW-Milwaukee Sandberg Hall – (Existing PRSB)
- UW-La Crosse Residence Hall – (Existing PRSB)
- Minor Facilities 2 - $43.8 million (GFSB/PRSB)
- UW-Madison Engineering Drive Utilities - $73.1 million (GFSB/PRSB)
- UW-River Falls Sci-Tech - $116.7 million (GFSB/Gift)
- UW-Green Bay Cofrin Technology Center - $96.3 million (GFSB/PRSB)
- UW-Madison College of Letters and Science - $88.4 million (GFSB/Gifts)
- Barron County Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory - $9.6 million GFSB
President Thompson released a statement thanking the committee for their support of the enumerated projects, which total $628.7 million (not including the all agency allocation).
Recap of Assembly Committee on Constitution and Ethics Executive Session
On Wednesday, June 9th, the Assembly Committee on Constitution and Ethics held an executive session on several bills regarding vaccination discrimination and prohibition, including AB 299, AB 303, AB 309, AB 316, and AB 347. All five bills passed out of the committee on a party-line, 6-3 vote. These bills can now be scheduled for a vote by the full assembly. AB 299, which would prohibit providing COVID-19 vaccination status for receiving any services, transacting any business, accessing any building, or participating in any government function, has been included in the upcoming Assembly floor calendar. Details on the full Assembly session calendar are included in the “Look Ahead” below.
Assembly Floor Session
The Assembly will hold a floor session on Wednesday, June 16, starting at 1:00 p.m. As indicated on the calendar, the following bills relating to UW System will be debated:
AB-195 College Athletics: designating University of Wisconsin and technical college sports and athletic teams based on the sex of the participants.
AB-299 Vaccination Proof: prohibiting proof of vaccination for COVID-19 as a condition of receiving business and government services.
U.S. Innovation and Competition Act
Last week, the Senate advanced the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act by a vote of 68-32. Senator Baldwin voted in support of the legislation, and Senator Johnson was opposed.
The bill now heads to the House of Representatives, where Members are expected to take action on their own pieces of legislation including the NSF for the Future Act. As the legislative process continues to move forward, whether that be on individual bills, a potential conference committee, or both, we will remain engaged with our federal partners on this important piece of legislation and legislative effort.
If interested, you can read a statement following the bill’s passage from President Biden here; a statement from APLU is available here. More information on the legislation’s prospects are effectively described in this Roll Call article.
Title IX Comments
As you will recall, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights announced a virtual public hearing to gather information for the purpose of improving enforcement of Title IX. These hearings took place last week.
President Thompson submitted comments on behalf of the UW System, which you can view below. A transcript of the hearing will be available within 30 days, and as it is published, it can be viewed here. Please note – as explained it the Federal Register notice – OCR will not make a recording of the hearing in light of the potential sensitivity of some of the topics under discussion and the Department's interest in reducing barriers to participation.
As any formal rulemaking or further action on this topic takes place, we will remain engaged with our federal partners and campus stakeholders.
Department of Ed Equity
Last week, the Department of Education announced several actions to advance equity in education. As you can see, these action items include the release of report on the disparate impacts of COVID on students in underserved communities, additional guidance related to provisions in the American Rescue Plan, and the announcement of an Equity Summit Series.
As further details are released, we’ll be sure to share information, but in the meantime, the linked release provides a high level overview of the plan.
At the time of the announcement Secretary Cardona said, “This is our moment as educators and as leaders to transform our education systems so they are truly serving all of our nation’s students. While COVID-19 has worsened many inequities in our schools and communities, we know that even before the pandemic, a high-quality education was out of reach for too many of our nation’s students and families. Our mission at the Department is to safely reopen schools for in-person learning, dramatically increase investments in communities that for too long have been furthest from opportunity, and reimagine our schools so that all students have their needs met. We must take bold action together to ensure our nation’s schools are defined not by disparities, but by equity and opportunity for all.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on H.R. 6, American Dream and Promise Act
On June 15th at 9:00AMCT, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary will hold a hearing on H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021.
As you will recall from a newsletter when this legislation was considered in the House of Representatives, and as summarized by the lead cosponsors, the legislation “will enable U.S.-raised immigrant youth known as “Dreamers” to earn lawful permanent residence and American citizenship. In addition to Dreamers, the Dream and Promise Act also includes protections and a path to citizenship for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) beneficiaries.” A brief two-page summary of the legislation is available here.
To be clear, this is a hearing and not a markup. It is not expected that there are the votes for this particular piece of legislation in the Senate; instead, this hearing is meant to draw attention to the issue and to continue to showcase support for the bill and the issue.
Both the House and Senate are scheduled to be in session and voting this week. You can view the full schedule for the House of Representatives as it is available here; the Senate schedule is available here.
The Government Relations team closely monitors legislation that could impact the University of Wisconsin System and regularly shares that information with their colleagues at institutions throughout the System for review and comment. Each bill being tracked by the government relations team is sent to campuses and UW System administration staff for review.