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Friday, February 23, 2024
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Republican bill would use AI to reduce Wisconsin's state agency workforce

GOP lawmakers introduced the proposal as part of a package of bills on artificial intelligence.

Two Wisconsin Republicans circulated a proposal late Wednesday that would require state agencies to use artificial intelligence tools to reduce workforce needs. 

The bill, authored by Rep. Nate Gustafson of Fox Crossing and Sen. Rachael Cabral-Guevara of Appleton, would reduce the total number of full-time positions state agencies are authorized to have based on fiscal year figures between 2023-24, starting in 2030.

From 2026 onward, state agencies would be required to submit a report to the Department of Administration and to various legislative committees “identifying positions that could benefit from AI tools,” by June 30 of even-numbered years. 

“Embracing AI isn't merely an option; it's a necessity for modernizing our state's operations and securing our position at the forefront of innovation,” Gustafson and Cabral-Guevara said in a joint statement. 

Additionally, the Legislative Audit Bureau would conduct audits on agencies’ use of AI tools and identify positions that could benefit from AI tools to meet a reduction goal, according to the bill. 

The audit report is due June 30, 2025 and must include: 

  • An inventory and reason of each AI tool the agency is using, developing or decommissioning. 
  • A summary of any written guidelines governing the use of AI tools.
  • A summary of the policies and practices in place at the agency to ensure the privacy of personally identifiable information the agency collects or uses with AI tools.
  • A summary of the policies and practices of the agency to evaluate the data collected and use, performance and results of the AI tools. 

An initial version of the bill referenced a “10% reduction goal” for state agency positions. This provision was removed in an updated version of the bill. 

The bill would also direct the DOA to prepare a report due Sept. 1 on even-numbered years to the Legislature’s budget-writing committee summarizing the agency reports . 

Report to Vos suggests new committee, endorsement of five bills 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, established an AI task force in August to make policy recommendations that would assist the public and private sectors. 

In a Tuesday report sent to Vos and 12 Republicans, Gustafon and Rep. Steve Doyle, D-Onalaska, co-chairs of the Task Force, proposed five bills to manage generative AI, child pornography, political advertisements, nudity and consumer data protection. 

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The package included:

  • Legislation to prohibit conduct related to the possession of material depicting child pornography. 
  • Disclosure requirements for political communications that contain audio or video content created by generative AI. The Wisconsin Ethics Commission would be required to promote these rules. 
  • A proposed ban on sexually explicit “deepfake” images, where a person is digitally manipulated to appear nude in images shared without their consent.

In the report, the lawmakers suggested Vos create a standing committee on emerging technology issues in the next legislative session. 

They also recommended against the creation of a state office or specific position in state government relating to AI and said regulating the private sector is “inappropriate” at this time. 

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Ava Menkes

Ava Menkes is the state news editor at The Daily Cardinal. She has covered multiple stories about Wisconsin politics and written in-depth about nurses unions and youth voter turnout. Follow her on Twitter at @AvaMenkes.

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