5 Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW To Fight the UW Open Records Exemption

1. Go to a hearing.

I’ve written about my experience attending a hearing at Sequoya library a couple of weeks ago. One of our members attended the hearing at East High School last night and told us the following:

I went to one of the Budget Hearings Tonight and one of my reps (who knows me because I’ve talked with her a couple of times) said I was the first person who has brought up the UW exception from the Open Records law at the hearings so please please if you live in Wisconsin write the Joint Finance Folks and tell them you oppose that inclusion in the budget.

There are only a few hearings left. If you can make them, please do! (Cities listed below, for locations see the AFSCME list.)

  • March 31: Dodgeville
  • April 1: Menasha
  • April 2: Oconto (Rep. Nygren, co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee is presiding, so this is SUPER important)
  • April 3: Howard (Rep. Nygren, co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee is presiding, so this is SUPER important)
  • April 6: Wausau
  • April 6: UW-Marinette Campus (Rep. Nygren, co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee is presiding, so this is SUPER important)
  • April 11: Eau Claire

If you choose to speak, here are two scripts and list of talking points you can use.

Script 1:

“I’m speaking out against the UW open records exemption. This is a policy item, and it has no place in a budget document, and I believe the university should be transparent to tax payers.  Similar items were introduced in 2013 and 2014 and intelligently thrown out. We should do the same with this.”

Script 2:

I encourage you to speak to the Joint Finance Committee about removing the UW open records exemption that reads:

“The bill creates an exception to the open records law for information produced or collected by or for UWSA faculty or staff with respect to commercial, scientific, or technical research until that information is publicly disseminated or patented.”

Such an exception has nothing to do with finance, and such an action limits the transparency of the university to the tax paying public. As an animal lover and as someone who believes in the Wisconsin idea, this concerns me. Wisconsin deserves more from our public university and from our local government.

Talking points:

  • Similar items were introduced in 2013 and 2014 and intelligently thrown out by legislators
  • The exemption is a policy item that has nothing to do with finances and should not be included in this bill
  • Anyone who supports freedom of information would oppose this exemption
  • The university should be accountable and transparent to the taxpayers

If you choose to register, register against the bill, and if there is space to write a specific item you oppose, write “UW open records exemption.”

If you cannot attend, see the next action item!

2. Contact your legislators.

Melissa Harris Perry calls voting the “brushing your teeth” of democracy, and when I told a friend that the other day, they said contacting your legislators is “flossing your teeth.” He said it’s something we know we should do more regularly, because it actually does make a difference.

How you contact your legislators is up to you. You can email, write a letter, call, write letters to the editor, or all of the above!

Don’t know who your legislators are? Click here to find out!

N.B. If your legislators are on the Joint Finance Committee, it is CRUCIAL that you contact them. Click on the names below to see their contact information.

Senate Members​ ​Assembly Members
Senator Alberta Darling, Co-Chair​ Representative John Nygren, Co-Chair​
Senator Luther Olsen​ Representative Dale Kooyenga
Senator Sheila Harsdorf Representative Amy Loudenbeck
Senator Leah Vukmir Representative Dean Knudson
Senator Tom Tiffany Representative Michael Schraa
Senator Howard Marklein Representative Mary Czaja
Senator Lena Taylor ​Representative Chris Taylor
Senator Jon Erpenbach Representative Gordon Hintz

3. Sign up to attend Humane Lobby Day.

Registration for Humane Lobby Day closes THIS THURSDAY, April 2nd. If you haven’t already, please sign up!

Humane Lobby Day is a chance to talk with your representatives about animal issues that matter to you, and I have it on good authority that the UW open records exemption is going to be one of those issues.

4. Sign and share this change.org petition.

5. Use your creative side to create an image, gif, or video.

Let’s make this message go viral! Email your image to hannah@allanimals.org and we’ll share it on facebook (anonymously or with credit, your choice.) Here are some examples!

sunshine lawsbaseball metaphor bowling metaphor

The text is taken from the first paragraph of the change.org petition and the information is from our page on open records. Click the images to make them larger.

Optional #6: Mark your calendar for April 18 – 25!

We are planning some great events for World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week, including a writers’ group event on April 18th and a public action on April 25th. If you have more ideas, please send them to hannah@allanimals.org.

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