Legislative Update: October 31

A bill to end Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave coverage would significantly harm Wisconsin families. Senate bill 490 would end the right to use paid sick leave while on family leave to care for a child after birth or adoption, and has many other negative impacts. The bill, which does not have a companion in the Assembly at this time, was referred to the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform. Read more, and then email the bill’s sponsors!

The state Senate returned to the floor today for the first time since approving the budget last month. Here are the items on today’s docket; look for WEAC to report out on the various measures going forward:

  • Competitive Bidding for School Districts. This bill prescribes how school districts conduct competitive bidding. Senate Bill 236/AB 307 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 (this number may be lowered based on amendments), 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.
  • Montessori Teaching License. Senate Bill 299/AB 423 would grant an initial teaching license based on completion of a Montessori teacher education program.
  • School Employee Tuberculosis Screening. SB 382/AB 382 would require screening of school district employees for tuberculosis.
  • Financial Literacy in Schools. Assembly Bill 280/SB 212 would require public schools to incorporate financial literacy into the curriculum.

More on Educator Protection Principles
WEAC would like to see principles for protecting all educators on the job, not short-sighted legislation like the proposed bill by Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt. We’re not alone. The School Administrators Alliance, disability rights groups, and even the WI DPI have weighed in to urge Thiesfeldt not to introduce his bill. Read WEAC story.

4-Year-Old Kindergarten. A bill circulating for co-sponsorship would require school boards to make 4-year-old kindergarten available to all eligible pupils beginning in the 2019-20 school year. The bill requires the Department of Public Instruction to provide state aid to each school district for the costs to operate a 4-year-old kindergarten program in the district. The bill adds this state aid for 4-year-old kindergarten to the definition of state aid for revenue limit purposes.

Another bill circulating would change to consider any 4K pupil in a district that requires full-day attendance as one pupil, instead of a half pupil. The Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce has issued its support for full funding for 4K.

The Assembly will be in session Thursday. Depending on the work it gets done, floor sessions are also scheduled for Tuesday, November 7, and Thursday, November 9. Amid the items on its schedule is AB-477 which would provide supplemental aid for school districts with a large area.

Expanding drivers ed to include information on human trafficking. The Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee will vote next week on AB 540, which would require drivers education programs to include instruction about how to identify human trafficking, and what a driver should do if something is suspected.

Other bills we’re watching:

  • SB 494 School Reports. Publication of school and school district accountability reports. Referred to Senate Education Committee.
  • SB 500 Redistricting. Legislative and congressional redistricting. Referred to Senate Elections and Utilities Committee.
  • AB 589/SB 465 Sign Language Interpreters at School Events. This bill would replace the current licensure program for sign language interpreters. Under this, an individual licensed by DPI and providing sign language interpretation services at a school or school-sponsored event is not required to be licensed by the board. The bill also includes other temporary and permanent exemptions from licensure.

Bills circulating for co-sponsorship:

LRB-0272 Memo Feminine Hygiene Products in Schools. Provision of feminine hygiene products in state and local buildings and school buildings.