Legislative Update – November 30

Bill aimed at teachers, school violence introduced
A proposal WEAC has weighed in against as misguided was formally introduced as Assembly Bill 693. WEAC was among the first of many education groups to weigh in against the proposal by Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt. There is currently no companion bill in the Senate and no express support from individual Senators for the bill. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee instead of the Education Committee, because new rules prohibit a bill to be heard in a committee that the author chairs (Thiesfeldt is a member of the Judiciary Committee, which is allowable).

In standing against the proposal, WEAC said we would like to see principles for protecting all educators on the job, not short-sighted legislation. Also coming out against AB 693 are the School Administrators Alliance, Wisconsin Family Ties, and the Department of Public Instruction. Read the WEAC story.

The fall legislative session for the Assembly and Senate has ended for the calendar year. The next floor session will be January 16-25, 2018.

Funding for bilingual education. Democrats are circulating a bill for co-sponsorship, LRB4882, to provide additional funding to the Department of Public Instruction for bilingual-bicultural education programs in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscal years. Memo

Guns in schools. The Assembly Committee on Education held an executive session at the state Capitol followed by a public hearing. Testimony was heard on Assembly Bill 496: suspending and expelling a pupil for possession of a firearm at school. Watch a short video.

Montessori teacher license. A bill that’s cleared both houses, which would provide an initial teaching license based on completion of a Montessori teacher training program, was presented to the governor for signing into law. WEAC analysis shows the program is of high quality, although we know the slippery slope alternative licensure can be – opening the door to less-credible pathways.

School board signatures. An Assembly Committee passed AB 332, relating to the signature requirement for nomination of candidates to school boards in school districts that contain territory lying within a second class city.

Electronic absentee voting. Those casting in-person absentee ballots would be allowed to use an electronic voting machine under legislation (AB 637) that received a public hearing. Currently, those voting absentee in person have to fill out paper ballots, seal them in an envelope and sign the envelope. Though the bill would allow in-person absentee ballots to be cast using an electronic machine, the ballots would not be tallied before Election Day. But municipal clerks would have to post a daily tally of ballots cast.

WRS & county jailers. A Joint Survey Committee on Retirement Systems report was requested on SB 577, a bill that would include county jailers in the WRS and under the Municipal Employment Relations Act. 

In the News:
Report says state budget projected to have large imbalance

Walker Signs 19 Bills, Including Constitutional Convention Bill

10 WI hunting licenses sold to infants

New lifetime teaching license proving problematic