The Free Speech Act and permitless carry bill are two key pieces of legislation that students should watch out for, state Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, told the Associated Students of Madison’s Legislative Affairs Committee, Monday.
Campus Free Speech Act could be coming next month
Kat Kerwin, Legislative Affairs chair on ASM, broached the Campus Free Speech Act, a controversial bill that would punish students who interrupt a campus speaker with suspension or — if a repeat offense — expulsion, as one of the main topics of discussion.
The bill, which Taylor called a “total constitutional violation” would punish students who interrupt a campus speaker with a minimum suspension of one semester and after several offenses, expulsion. The bill’s lack of a definition for what would be considered an interference is also concerning, Taylor said.
In June, the state Assembly passed the legislation on near-party lines. The state Senate could take up the bill as early as October, Kerwin said.
Supporters of the bill cited controversial conservative speaker and author Ben Shapiro, who spoke at UW-Madison last fall, as an example of why the bill was necessary at schools throughout the UW System. Shapiro’s speech drew protests from at least a dozen students.
However, Taylor said that the bill’s supporters neglect to mention the fact that protesters left after 10 minutes, allowing the event to continue. For this reason, the bill “doesn’t have any faith” in allowing students to work out their disagreements on their own, she said.
“Permitless carry” bill could eventually allow guns on UW campus
Taylor also highlighted the permitless carry bill, which will be taken up by a state Senate committee later this week.
Kerwin called it “a student issue.” She said the bill could affect universities if an amendment were added that would eliminate the gun ban on campus, thereby “targeting” universities. If that amendment came to pass, Kerwin said, it could be a major public safety issue.
“The bottom line is that there are spaces on this campus that are mixed with alcohol and drug use,” Kerwin said. “So when you toss in a firearm with that, that’s a really concerning thing.”
Taylor agreed, saying guns are “not conducive for learning.” Having spoken with students on this matter as well as having a husband who is a professor, Taylor said the bill would only hurt performance in the classroom.
“Can you imagine sitting there in your class and someone comes in and you know they have a gun?” Taylor said. “I would be so nervous about that person.”
Kerwin said she and other members of ASM’s Legislative Affairs Committee will attend the Tuesday committee hearing in solidarity against the bill.