Legislative Update – October 5

A bill that is being circulated, Senate Bill 419/Assembly Bill  503, threatens teachers’ rights to access the statutory grievance procedure that includes review by an impartial hearing officer. WEAC has issued an action alert to the bill’s authors raising our concerns. Note that teachers in the Milwaukee Public School System would not be impacted by this bill, because they are not covered by the nonrenewal statute.

Read more about the proposed change that would essentially preclude access to the grievance procedure for teacher nonrenewals and any form of discipline where there is not a financial consequence – such as a letter of reprimand. The bills have been referred to committee, and no public hearings are set. Read the fiscal estimate.

‘Teacher Protection Act’ being drafted
A Capitol news source today reported that Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt is drafting what he is calling the “Teacher Protection Act.” The bill aims to give teachers information about violent crimes committed by students. WEAC is currently analyzing the proposal. Read the Legislative Reference Bureau overview.

Full summary of education provisions in state budget available
The full summary of education provisions in the 2017-19 state budget is now available.

Agreed-Upon Workers Compensation Bill
The Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council has finalized the Agreed-Upon Bill for the 2017-18 Legislative Session. This Agreed-Upon Bill will be introduced into the Wisconsin Legislature in a short period of time. WEAC and the Wisconsin AFL-CIO (which represents labor on the council) support this bill and will urge Legislators to fully support it. Wisconsin has one of the best worker’s compensation systems in the country, and this Agreed-Upon Bill will continue to strengthen it for injured workers, including educators harmed on the job.

Regarding benefits for injured workers, this bill calls for an increase for the weekly rates that is up to 150 percent larger than past increases. Specifically, the Agreed-Upon Bill includes Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefit increases for $20 per week for the maximum weekly benefit amount in 2018 and $25 per week for the maximum weekly benefit amount in 2019. The bill also adjusts maximum weekly benefits for Permanent Total Disability (PTD). Under the proposal, PTD injuries occurring prior to 1/1/2005 would have a maximum weekly rate of $711. The Agreed-Upon Bill also includes a multiplier of 15 percent of the number of weeks injured workers are eligible for if the employer does not return the injured worker to work at a wage more than 85 percent of their pre-injury wage.

Competitive Bidding for School Districts
A bill prescribing the way school districts conduct competitive bidding is moving ahead in the Senate. Senate Bill 236 would require a school board to advertise any project for construction, repair, remodeling or improvement of a public school building or public school facilities or for the furnishing of supplies or materials with an estimated cost greater than $75,000, and let the contract to the lowest responsible bidder. The bill would prohibit a school board from giving preference for where the bidder is located or using criteria other than the lowest responsible bidder.

WEAC continues to monitor legislative activity and the impact on educators and working families. Look for our updates and encourage your colleagues to sign up for them as well. Direct your questions to communications@weac.org.