The enactment of 1989 Wisconsin Act 338 made some substantive changes in the way that the University of Wisconsin System communicates with elected state officials and their staffs. The act became fully effective on January 1, 1991.
The following provisions of the law apply to administrative, faculty, academic staff, and classified employees.
Questions about lobbying may be directed to the UW-Platteville Legislative Liaison, Barb Daus, at 342-1282.
- Any UW System employee who attempts to influence legislation on behalf and at the request of the University should be included on a semi-annual report submitted by the Chancellor of each UW institution to UW System Administration, which in turn files a single report with the Wisconsin Ethics Board under s. 13.695 of the statutes.
- The retrospective reporting periods are twice per year, covering the period from January 1 to June 30 and that from July 1 to December 31.
- The report includes the names of employees, the proportion of their time spent trying to influence legislation and their salaries. The state Ethics Board suggests percentages be used, i.e., 0%, 5%, or less, etc.
- The percentage of time should "account for time spent developing, drafting, modifying, or attempting to affect administrative rules before the Legislature or any pending or proposed legislation with elected officials or legislative employees" as well as time spent on research and preparation in connection with legislative action.
- The report also asks UW institutions to identify (check a box) the employees "whose normal duties include influencing legislation." This identification is used primarily for directory purposes to identify University officers and legislative liaisons, who are routinely rep-resenting the institution.
- If a UW institution or the UW System requests that a UW employee testify for informational purposes at a legislative hearing, he/she should be listed on the report submitted by each Chancellor to the UW System Vice President for University Relations. However, if a UW employee is answering a question from a legislator, or is a member of an advisory or rules committee, or a legislative council committee, he/she does not have to be listed.
- The so-called "gag rule" still applies since recent attempts to have it repealed have been vetoed by the Governor. The law prohibits a state employee from lobbying the legislature for an appropriation in support of his or her agency if such an appropriation is greater than (or not included in) that agency's initial budget request. For example, once the UW System Board of Regents has officially approved a biennial budget and submitted it to the Governor, a UW System employee (as an institutional representative) may not legally lobby the legislature for funding that goes beyond the Regents' requests.
- Nothing in the law prohibits a UW System employee from expressing his or her personal views on any subject to his or her own legislator.
- Legislators may accept food or beverages at a University function if the person is presenting a talk or participating in a meeting on government processes and on state-related issues.
- Faculty, staff, and administrators can accept employment from organizations that hire lobbyists. They may also serve on the corporate boards of such organizations.