"Campus Free Speech Acts" die in Wisconsin

03.29.2018

A pair of "Campus Free Speech Acts," Assembly Bill 299 and Senate Bill 250, died in the Wisconsin legislature on March 28, 2018, when they failed to meet a deadline.

The bills in question would have required the board of regents of the University of Wisconsin system to adopt a policy on free expression with various provisions affecting students, faculty, speakers, the public, and the institutions that are part of the system themselves, and to appoint a council on free expression to report on free expression issues to the board, the legislature, and the governor.

Judging from the text of the bills, science education would not have obviously been affected. But during a committee hearing on May 11, 2017, two of the sponsors of AB 299, Jesse Kremer (R-District 59) and Robin Vos (R-District 63), suggested that the teaching of evolution and climate change might be affected by the bill's passage, according to the Capital Times (June 6, 2017). Kremer insisted that the earth is 6000 years old.

Before dying, AB 299 was passed by the Assembly on a 61-36 vote on June 21, 2017; SB 250 died in the Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges.