MADISON — The 2005-07 legislative session, which saw the introduction of a number of comprehensive economic development plans, could end on an even more successful note with the passage of four key pieces of legislation, Wisconsin Technology Council chairman Mark Bugher said Tuesday. Those four include:
- Senate Bill 338, the so-called “self-dealing legislation,” which would encourage more entrepreneurial activity by University of Wisconsin professors.
- Assembly Bill 297/Senate Bill 152, the so-called “Education Tax Credit” legislation, which would allow businesses and employees to better tailor continuing education programs and attract new workers to Wisconsin.
- Senate Bill 372, which would provide necessary start-up funding for the Bio-Medical Technology Alliance in Milwaukee.
- Legislation that would provide a remedy for a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that puts at risk companies involved in the production of components, including those in high-tech industries such as biotechnology.
“Policymakers in Wisconsin, from the governor to the Legislature, have a common vision about enhancing the state’s business climate through avenues such as a well-trained workforce, attracting investment and reducing barriers to competition. That vision must expand if we are to be successful in growing high-end, high-tech businesses in our state,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council.
Grow Wisconsin II, Invest Wisconsin and Jobs Creation II were among the packages introduced in the current session, which Bugher and Still described as productive for the state’s high-growth, high-tech economy.
According to Bugher and Still, other key legislative milestones were:
· Holding the line on taxes, while continuing to search for ways to control the overall tax burden;
· Working towards streamlining Wisconsin’s business regulatory climate;
· Investing in Wisconsin’s human capital through our state’s educational infrastructure;
· Passage of Act 255 “clean-up” legislation, which makes improvements to the process by which early-stage seed and angel investment income and franchise tax credits can be claimed by investors;
· Passage of Senate Bill 218, which makes great strides towards making Wisconsin’s tax code more user-friendly; and
· Passage of Senate Bill 459 and the formation of the Governor’s Consortium on Biobased Industry, both of which will help Wisconsin secure its position in the emerging bio-economy.
The session would be regarded as even more productive, Bugher and Still said, if lawmakers followed up on these additional initiatives before the Legislature adjourns this spring.
Senate Bill 338, dubbed the “self-dealing” legislation, will enable UW researchers from around the state to bring their discoveries to market more quickly, and is seen as a key element not only for the university in their recruitment and retention efforts, but also for the business and high-tech communities in their investment procurement efforts
“Wisconsin academic institutions attract nearly $900 million per year in research spending, which translates to 31,000 jobs, according to the Tech Council’s 2004 report,” noted Charles Hoslet, managing director of corporate relations at UW-Madison. “With the passage of this legislation, researchers throughout the UW System will be empowered to play an even larger part in growing Wisconsin’s economy by starting companies that employ our citizens, bring investors to Wisconsin, increase our tax base, and give a competitive advantage to Wisconsin in the Knowledge Economy.”
Assembly Bill 297/Senate Bill 152, which enables businesses to collect an income and franchise credit for a portion of the expenses accrued for post-secondary education of its employees. AB 297/SB 152 is seen as fundamental to the continued expansion of Wisconsin’s well-trained workforce, and therefore its competitive advantage.
“Since 1978, Wisconsin’s efforts to increase higher education among its residents have declined by 47.8 percent, which has resulted in Wisconsin being ranked 40th among all 50 states in this area,” noted Sujeet Chand, senior vice president and chief technical officer of Rockwell Automation. “If Wisconsin brought its degreed population to just the national average, (an increase of 150,000 college graduates), it would add $7 billion to the state’s per capita income levels and tax base combined by enabling businesses like Rockwell Automation access to a well-trained, productive workforce.”
Senate Bill 372, considered key in propelling Wisconsin to the forefront of the emerging biomedical industry, would provide sustainable funding for the creation of the Bio-Medical Technology Alliance.
“The funding provided by SB 372 is intended to engage the entire research community in the seven-county southeast Wisconsin region through a network of collaborative research projects,” explained Dr. William Hendee, President of the Medical College of Wisconsin Research Foundation. “This project will enable the creation of a “community” of bio-medical businesses enabling Southeastern Wisconsin to compete against similar national and international causeways.”
Finally, the Wisconsin Technology Council and its affiliates strongly urge the Legislature to address the Supreme Court ruling that enables litigants to bring suit against a group of defendants in lieu of identifying the specific manufacturer of a defective product or a product that causes injury.
“Because of the scope of the ruling, component manufacturers are at risk of pass-through litigation that could hold liable the manufacturer of the faulty equipment, right down through the smallest component manufacturer of the product,” said Kevin Conroy, president and chief executive of Third Wave Technologies. “This ruling, though sensitive to certain defendants’ injuries, sends a chilling message to component manufacturers already located in Wisconsin and provides cause for those outside the state to second-guess locating their businesses here.”
The Wisconsin Technology Council is an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to assist in the creation, development and retention of science-based and technology-based businesses in Wisconsin.