MON AM News: Research contract bill clears Assembly committee; Joint Finance Committee approves transportation funding plan

— A bill to expedite the research contract review process at UW-Madison has cleared an Assembly committee with support from the Wisconsin Technology Council and university entrepreneurs.

The “Mark Cook Bill” was named after a UW-Madison animal sciences professor who headed the PROFS Entrepreneurial Work Group. His research spawned four companies, and led to 50 different patents. He died of cancer in late 2017.

“I knew Dr. Cook as a leading scientist at the UW-Madison, where his work included innovations in poultry and meat science as well as human and animal health,” Tech Council President Tom Still said last week in testimony before the Assembly Committee on Constitution and Ethics.

Still and Cook also served together on the board of directors for one of the companies he helped launch. According to Still, Cook’s work was often slowed by rules that “had either outlived their usefulness, stood at odds with processes at other major universities, or simply cost Wisconsin entrepreneurs time and money.”  

The bill, which passed the Assembly committee on a unanimous vote, would eliminate a 45-day passive review process that’s required for any contract exceeding $250,000 over two years and tied to a faculty or staff entrepreneur.

“The bill will streamline and strengthen the process for approving contracts between private companies and nonprofits and the university when faculty or staff have a financial interest,” said Jack O’Meara, spokesman for the PROFS group.

He says faculty from other universities “can’t believe it exists,” adding the requirement only slows down the process of commercializing research. He says cutting the 45-day review will make it more consistent with common practices.

“Forty-five days can be an eternity when you’re trying to finalize a deal,” O’Meara said.

See more:

— Republicans on the Legislature’s budget committee have approved jacking up fees and eliminating breaks for retailers to help pump $483.7 million of new revenue into transportation over the next two years while borrowing an additional $326.2 million for projects.

That’s in the neighborhood of what Gov. Tony Evers had proposed. But the GOP plan differed in one significant way, rejecting Evers’ call to increase the gas tax by 8 cents a gallon and indexing it for inflation going forward.

Dems on the Joint Finance Committee slammed the GOP move to rely on fees for much of the proposed spending increase rather than the gas tax, saying it would mean putting most of the additional burden on Wisconsin motorists regardless of how much they drive or the value of their vehicle.

And it means the motorists who visit Wisconsin aren’t paying more, while state residents are.

“If you are forced to pay those excessive fees to drive, it’s a tax. It’s a tax,” said state Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee. “But the more ridiculous thing is it’s a tax on Wisconsinites, the people we are sent here to represent.”

See more at

— One of five new solar arrays being funded by Madison is set to go online by mid-June in Argyle, according to a release from the city.

The city is pitching in $1.4 million of the total $18 million cost for the five arrays. The other four are planned for construction in Cumberland, Elroy, Fennimore and New Lisbon.

The release shows the arrays, once active, will increase the state’s solar capacity by 15 percent. They’re expected to add 40,000 new solar panels to the area, producing enough electricity to power 2,500 average homes in Wisconsin.

OneEnergy Renewables designed and developed the five solar projects, and BluEarth Renewables acquired the projects in December 2018. BluEart started construction on the projects in January, and will own and operate the projects for their projected 25-year lifespan.

The $1.4 million investment supports the city’s goal of using 100 percent renewable energy for all city operations by 2030, according to the release. The goal, announced in March, also includes a target 2050 date for the entire Madison community to reach 100 percent renewable energy.

According to a release, the city will receive renewable energy credits created by these projects over the next 25 years to balance out carbon use.

See the release:

— EnsoData, a Madison-based company with an artificial intelligence platform for sleep clinicians, has announced a new partnership with another startup called LabRetriever.

These two medical software providers will combine their solutions, enabling clinics already using the LabRetriever physician workflow system to try out EnsoSleep as well. This product from EnsoData takes over monitoring duties for sleep studies, freeing up clinicians to do other work.

“After working with the LabRetriever team to onboard several shared customers, it was a no-brainer to establish an easy way for all sleep clinics to benefit,” said Chris Fernandez, CEO and co-founder of EnsoData.

Clinicians from more than 250 sleep clinics have used EnsoSleep’s AI system to analyze their sleep studies, saving thousands of hours each month, according to a release.

See the release:

See an earlier story on EnsoData:

— The Wisconsin Bankers Association has named Mark Meloy, CEO of Madison’s First Business Bank, as the group’s chair for this year and the next.

According to a release, the Platteville native has been with the bank since 2000, holding positions including president and vice president.

See the release:


# Collaborative of UW campuses aims to make Wisconsin ‘Silicon Valley of water’

# State dairy herd count at 7,722; half the total of 15 years ago

# Downtown Waukesha luxury apartment project could get $4.75 million from city

# Hmong farmers find comfort in tending to crops, secure continued land use



– Four-state dairy conference to focus on profitability


– Wisconsin job growth lagged behind U.S. in 2018

– Southeastern Wisconsin governments exploring federal Opportunity Zone program


– UW System leaders unveil plans for freshwater collaborative

– New tools aim to help producers navigate DMC program

– Peterson elected as UW Regents president


– First phase of SWIGG groundwater study is complete

– Great Lakes mayors’ group endorses plan to fight Asian carp


– Fiserv Forum could start serving up edible cookie dough


– Greater Milwaukee Foundation awards $600,000 to early career Wisconsin scientists

– Fatal falls remain high in state among elderly

– SHINE Medical to make cancer-fighting isotope for researchers in Prague


– Budget committee scraps charging station plan


– Silgan Containers leasing 525,000 square feet in new Kenosha industrial facility


– NEWaukee’s first Night Market set for June 12


– Marquette University professor awarded $1.4 million NIH grant

– Music streaming app LÜM teams with Frank Productions


– Finance committee OKs Republican road-funding plan


– Milwaukee Biz Blog: Milwaukee entrepreneurship not like Madison scene, nor should it be

– Plain Talk: CEO pay skyrockets while the rest of us are left behind


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality: Recognizes health care groups for excellence in clinical performance

The Menomonee Falls hotel to join the Marriott portfolio of hotels

UW System: Forms Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin

UW-Madison: Statement relative to Trump fetal tissue executive order