Victory

Strike the UW open records exemption

This petition made change with 3,595 supporters!


Dear legislators and engaged citizens,

Hidden in the 2015 Budget Bill is an item that exempts UW Madison from our state's open records law. The open records law allows citizens to request government records, including UW research records. With that exemption, citizens are unable to know what is happening in experiments involving animals, psychedelic drugs, and much more. A similar item was included in the 2013 budget bill (JSOnline), and a similar amendment was introduced in 2014 (AP). Both were intelligently thrown in the trash can, and that is what should be done with this 2015 item. The text 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.”

Legislators, I ask that you listen to your constituents and throw out this item. Please keep UW Madison transparent to the taxpayers. 

Citizens, if you care about freedom of information, tell your legislators to keep the records open.

If you care about animals, tell your legislators to keep the records open.

Without open records requests, animal advocacy groups can't find out the truth about university experiments on animals. Dane County has more primates used in lab experiments than anywhere else in the world and we need to know what goes on behind closed doors.

Without open records requests, we don't know the results of non-classified military research, psychedelic drug tests, and so much more (JSOnline).

You can act now by attending a hearing and speaking out against the open records exemption (list provided by AFSCME), contacting your legislator, and signing the petition.

Find out more information at allanimals.org/open-records.php. The following information is pasted from that site.

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What is open records law?

The open records law lets citizens request access to government records, including records of UW campus research. The law shows the public that transparency matters.

“[I]t is declared to be the public policy of this state that all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those officers and employees who represent them.” Wis. Stat. § 19.31. This is one of the strongest declarations of policy found in the Wisconsin statutes. Zellner v. Cedarburg Sch. Dist. (“Zellner I”), 2007 WI 53, ¶ 49, 300 Wis. 2d 290, ¶ 49, 731 N.W.2d 240, ¶ 49.


Why is it in danger?


The 2015 budget bill threatens that transparency. Language in the bill gives UW a right to not supply records of campus research until that research is publically available.

“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.”


Why is this a problem?


In the words of Freedom of Information Council founder Bill Lueders,

"This blanket exemption would spare the UW from needing a good reason to deny access to these records, as current law requires. Instead, universities could categorically spurn inquiries from citizens, media and even lawmakers looking into controversial research, potential threats to public safety, conflicts of interest or how tax dollars are spent (Lueders, “March: Don’t let the UW hide research records,” Your Right to Know Column, March 2015).


Wisconsin's Open Records law is part of a national series of laws called "Sunshine Laws" that govern public access to government records. We need to keep the sun shining on UW. After all, as former Supreme Court Justice Brandeis said,

"Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants."



Today: Alliance for Animals is counting on you

Alliance for Animals needs your help with “Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee: Strike the UW open records exemption”. Join Alliance for Animals and 3,594 supporters today.