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Assembly Speaker Vos announces bipartisan task forces, including one focused on AI

by Baylor Spears, Wisconsin Examiner
August 24, 2023

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) announced on Thursday the creation of four bipartisan task forces including one dedicated to artificial intelligence. The announcement follows Gov. Tony Evers’ Wednesday announcement that he was creating a task force on artificial intelligence (AI) and the state’s workforce.

The task forces, which will be led by a Republican chair and a Democratic vice-chair, will travel around the state to compile input and ideas related to each issue area, then develop recommendations. The committees will begin their work in September with the hope of finishing before the end of 2023.

“These are important issues to our state that our Assembly members and the public would like addressed,” Vos said in a statement. 

Rep. Nate Gustafson (R-Neenah) and Rep. Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska) will lead the Artificial Intelligence Task Force, which will explore the technology’s role in elections, business, government and other aspects of life. The task force will look at various AI tools — including automated decision tools, facial recognition and generative AI — and study its potential as well as ways of deploying the technology responsibly and ethically.

“As we stand at the forefront of technological advancement, it is vital that we address the challenges and opportunities presented by AI,” Gustafson, who has a background in cybersecurity and information systems, said in a statement. “This task force represents an opportunity to ensure that Wisconsin remains a leader in responsible AI development, benefiting all sectors of our society.”

Vos’ task force comes as state leaders across the country are increasingly focusing on AI and after Evers signed an executive order on Wednesday to create a task force on workforce and AI within the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD). 

“Establishing this task force will be critical in understanding, adapting to, and capitalizing on the transformations AI will bring, ensuring Wisconsin’s workforce and industries remain steady, stable, and robust in the face of technological advancement,” Evers said in a statement.

The task force will include state leaders from the Department of Administration, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, representatives from the University of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Technical College Systems, and others from state and local government, the business community, educational institutions, organized labor and the technology sector.

Evers’ spokesperson Britt Cudaback told the Associated Press that the goal is to have an action plan done in time for Evers to consider when introducing the next state budget in early 2025.

Other states including Texas and West Virginia have created similar AI task forces, and other states are focused on proposing legislation. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 25 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. have introduced artificial intelligence bills in the 2023 legislative session. 

Vos announced three additional task forces on Thursday, which will come up with recommendations for addressing childhood obesity, truancy in K-12 education and human trafficking.

Rep. Karen Hurd (R-Fall Creek) and Rep. Robyn Vining (D-Wauwatosa) will lead a task force on childhood obesity, which will study the circumstances contributing to childhood obesity, including physical activity, nutrition and medical factors. 

Rep. Amy Binsfeld (R-Sheboygan) and Rep. Dora Drake (D-Milwaukee) will lead a task force on truancy in K-12 education. The lawmakers will examine the relationship between truancy and student academic success, evaluate current practices for holding parents and schools accountable for student attendance and increase awareness and resources. The creation of the task force follows reports early this year that rates of chronic absenteeism rose in Wisconsin following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rep. Jerry O’Connor (R-Fond du Lac) and Rep. Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire) will lead a task force on human trafficking with a focus on exploring ways of combating it through prevention, supporting and empowering survivors and prosecuting traffickers.

“Preventing and stopping trafficking is a truly nonpartisan ideal that brings together values that everyone can agree on – the rights to autonomy, freedom, and safety,” Emerson said in a statement. “While advocates and legislators have made some strides in recent decades to combat this scourge, there is still a great deal of work that we can do to finally end trafficking in Wisconsin.”

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Wisconsin Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Wisconsin Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Ruth Conniff for questions: info@wisconsinexaminer.com. Follow Wisconsin Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

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