A provision to exempt University of Wisconsin System research from open records requests was removed from a bill to allow classified research on campus Monday.

Among the arguments presented at the hearing were those focused on an earlier version of the bill that included various public records law exemptions for classified research conducted on system campuses.

“I have concerns with nipping out the open records law,” Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, R-New Berlin, agreed to amend the bill, allowing the public hearing to focus mainly on the second portion, which deals with classified research protocol.

Leslie Hamilton, a retired attorney, said in her testimony that UW-Madison was claiming it is at a competitive disadvantage because of the state’s open records law.

“Wisconsin’s public records law already includes an exception for proprietary research,” Hamilton said.

The trade secrets exemption in the open records law and a similar one in the federal Freedom of Information Act already exist to protect information in private research, according to Hamilton.

Tom Still, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Technology Council, said changing system policy to introduce confidential research would allow the university to build on and expand the range of private research it already conducts.

“The one area in the federal government that continues to grow is cybersecurity,” Still said. “It is a national priority of great urgency, and the dollars have been there.”

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