Legislative Update – April 13

WEAC budget overview updated
The WEAC budget overview at www.weac.org/budget is now updated to reflect changes made by the Joint Finance Committee, which pulled 83 non-fiscal items from the governor’s original proposal. Take a look at what remains and plan to submit testimony to the JFC, contact your legislators and send a letter to the editor. Also, the Senate Democrats have released their latest budget infographic.

Bill seeks to reduce number of union representatives from Council on Worker’s Compensation
A proposal (LRB-1836) circulating by Rep. Duey Stroebel would reduce the number of union representatives on the Council on Worker’s Compensation. Under the bill, the proportion of representatives of employees who are representatives of organized labor on the council must be the same as the proportion of employees in this state who are union members, which Stroebel puts at 8 percent of Wisconsin employees. The bill says organized labor must have at least two representatives. Currently the voting members of the Worker’s Compensation Council are made up of 5 members representing employers and 5 members representing employees, as well as one designated employee of the Department of Workforce Development to serve as chairperson. Though statute requires the current 5-5 breakdown, the statute does not specify what type of labor shall be represented. All five of the seats designated for employee representatives are currently filled by organized labor representatives.

Prevailing wage bill circulating
Just after a bill (LRB-2889) began circulating to repeal prevailing wage legislation in Wisconsin, a Koch-funded group called “Concerned Veterans for America” went live with an ad urging its passage. The stand-alone bill was introduced after the Joint Finance Committee pulled a similar policy item from the governor’s budget proposal on which it’s basing its budget deliberations. The bill extends prevailing wage restrictions beyond Wisconsin Act 55 enacted last session to also prevent local governments from enacting their own prevailing wage requirements. Prevailing wage has been in place since the Great Depression. Read this related news article.

Minimum hours of instruction
A bill eliminating required hours of instruction in some public schools was introduced with “accountability,” according to its author, just after a budget provision from Gov. Scott Walker doing the same thing was pulled by the Joint Finance Committee.

Farm-to-school elimination

  • A part of the current budget proposal eliminates the farm-to-school coordinator position and 15-member farm-to-school advisory council, a proposal that is drawing media attention this week.

The Week in Review

April 13

  • Outcomes-based funding. The Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee held an informational hearing with invited speakers only on outcomes-based funding in higher education. See WisPolitics story and contact your legislators.

April 12

  • August sales tax holiday. A bill to create a sales tax holiday in August (AB 232) was referred to the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means. The bill would allow a two-day period where sales and use tax would be lifted on items including clothing, computers and school supplies – under certain price points. See more.
  • UW Regents, WTCS Board appointments. The Senate Universities and Technical Colleges Committee held a hearing on appointments for the UW Board of Regents (Michael Jones, Robert Atwell) and the Wisconsin Technical College System Board (Hunter Kautz).

April 11

  • Career and technical education incentive grants. A fiscal estimate was received for SB127, concerning grants and appropriations for career and technical education incentive grants. View Bill History.
  • Technical education equipment grants. A fiscal estimate was received for SB125, relating to grants and providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, granting rule-making authority and making an appropriation. View Bill History.
  • Crediting military service under the WRS. A fiscal estimate was received for SB136, which expands coverage under the WRS in certain circumstances. View Bill History.

April 10

  • Nutrition education. A bill modifying nutrition education standards (AB 215) was introduced. The bill expands standards to include nutritive value of foods and healthful diets and modifies the conditions requiring a nutrition education component be part of the health education graduation requirement. The bill was referred to the Assembly Committee on Education.

On the Forefront

Joint Finance Committee budget hearings start again next week. All hearings start at 10 a.m. For support in testifying at a hearing, contact Christina Brey, breyc@weac.org.

  • Tuesday, April 18 – Spooner High School, Spooner
  • Wednesday, April 19 – Ellsworth High School, Ellsworth
  • Friday, April 21 – Marinette High School, Marinette

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