Wisconsin legislator nixes UW record exemptions

The head of the state Assembly’s colleges committee said Monday he won’t allow the panel to vote on a bill that would largely keep University of Wisconsin System research activities secret, defusing a looming fight between the system and open government advocates.

Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, R-New Berlin, introduced a bill last week that would exempt all materials tied to any commercial, scientific or technical research from the state’s open records law before the research is published.

UW officials say the measure is designed to protect research from competitors. Open records advocates counter that the law already exempts draft research documents and information that would reveal trade secrets. They also contend the law allows universities to keep records secret if officials feel the harm from releasing them outweighs the presumption of public access.

“Wow,” Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, wrote in an email to Wisconsin media outlets, open records attorneys alerting them to the bill. “I am asking that we take this seriously and respond with the indignation it deserves.” Continue>>>