Legislative Update – February 17

Legislative/Budget Overview

More than $636.6 million in budget requests shut out of governor’s proposal. An analysis by the state Department of Administration shows that over $646.6 million in DPI budget requests were not included in the governor’s proposal for public school funding. The Fair Funding for Our Future school finance reform initiative, Rural Schools Teacher Retention Grant and special education categorical aid were all left behind along with 14 other proposals advanced by the DPI.

This is the latest on the governor’s budget, including a report from the Wisconsin Budget Project which cited large – but mostly untargeted – increases for public schools, leading insiders to speculate that this is a re-election budget for the governor who may announce a bid soon. The governor’s proposal is the starting point for discussions by the Legislature, including how elected officials will address missing components they campaigned on including funding for roads and expansion of the tax-funded private school voucher program.

Legislative action will continue during the first week of March, with the Senate will be in session on Tuesday, March 7 and the Assembly will be in session on Tuesday, March 7 and Thursday, March 9.

The Week in Review

February 17

  • Inventory of pupil data (AB-071) was referred to the Assembly Education Committee.
  • Information on the responsibilities of the state superintendent related to privacy and security of pupil data (AB-072) was referred to the Assembly Education Committee.

February 16

  • Bill circulating to regulate electronic smoking devices on school property. Representative Sondy Pope is seeking co-sponsors for a bill (LRB-2100) to regulate electronic smoking devices on school district property.

February 15

  • Committee will meet on eliminating state treasurer. The Assembly State Affairs Committee met on a proposal to eliminate the office of state treasurer from the Wisconsin Constitution.

February 14

  • Bill on rural broadband, TEACH grants being circulated. The bill, LRB 2042/1, is a combination of the proposal that was promoted by the governor in December and recommendations made by the 2016 Study Committee on Rural Broadband. The bill:
    • Allocates an additional $15.5 million to the Rural Broadband Expansion Grant Program for additional 2017 grant awards.
    • Removes limitations to the total annual value of grants that may be made through the Rural Broadband Expansion Grant program.
    • Incorporates the Study Committee on Rural Broadband’s recommendations for priority criteria and definitions to make grant awards.
    • Prohibits the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) from requiring any appraisal or charging any fee prior to granting an easement for construction of broadband infrastructure in underserved areas.
    • Allocates an additional $7.5 million to the Technology for Educational Achievement (TEACH) Program from a surplus in the E-Rate program fund.
    • Allows the Department of Administration (DOA) to award an additional round of information technology block grants before July 1, 2017.
    • Expands TEACH eligibility to schools with 16 pupils per mile and fewer than 2,500 members.

February 13

  • School board meeting minutes bill introduced. Assembly bill 70 was referred to Assembly Committee on Local Government. The bill would end the requirement for school boards to publish minutes in designated newspapers and instead have them posted in a public place and on the school’s website, something school boards have been pushing for a while, given the nature of our online world. It’s something the newspaper association has fought against for some time.
  • Project labor agreement bill (AB-24, SB-3) sent to Assembly Rules Committee. This prohibits local governments from requiring project labor agreements, something the governor supports in his 2017-19 state budget proposal.

February 9

  • Self-insurance proposal response. The State Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) sent a letter to Joint Finance co-chairs regarding self-insurance. ETF Video.

Don’t see something in the wrap-up? Looking for more information? Contact Christina Brey.