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March 8, 2012

Wisconsin Bill Would Create Nanotechnology Information Hub and Nanotechnology Council

Lynn L. Bergeson

S.B. 533, which was prepared for the Joint Legislative Council’s Special Committee on Nanotechnology, was introduced in the Wisconsin Senate on February 29, 2012, by the Joint Legislative Council.  The bill directs the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents to maintain a nanotechnology information hub, for at least five years, to promote the development of nanotechnology businesses in Wisconsin, and gather and disseminate information about environmental health and workplace safety related to nanotechnology. The hub is directed to report to the legislature on emerging nanotechnology health and safety information, and at the direction of the nanotechnology council, identify needed legislation relating to nanotechnology safety and development. The nanotechnology council, which would be created by the bill, would set policies and priorities for the nanotechnology information hub and make grants for research and development related to nanotechnology, subject to the availability of funding. The bill does not appropriate any funds for grants but rather directs the nanotechnology hub to seek and compete for federal, state, or other funding to support its activities and to be used by the nanotechnology council to make grants.

The Special Committee was created to examine the human health and environmental concerns related to the manufacture, use, and disposal of nanomaterials and develop legislation to address these concerns.  In particular, the Special Committee was directed to consider the establishment of methods to monitor nanomaterials by use of a nanotechnology registry system or the imposition of other disclosure requirements.  The Special Committee’s May 10, 2011, Proposed Report to the Legislature includes a draft bill relating to establishing a nanotechnology information hub and a nanotechnology council, as well as a separate draft bill relating to a Wisconsin interagency nanotechnology council. Legislation creating a Wisconsin interagency nanotechnology council has not been introduced at this time.