Legislative Update – January 9

The Assembly leadership has told members to keep Tuesday, January 16, and Tuesday, January 23, open for possible Assembly session days.  The Senate will meet on Tuesday, January 23.  The Governor will hold his State of the State on Wednesday, January 24.

Hearing set for bill that misses mark on teacher protection. A public hearing will be held Thursday, January 11, on AB-693, a bill circulated by Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt that falls short of its stated goal to “protect teachers.” WEAC is not supporting the proposed legislation, and instead is offering – from the educators’ perspective – protections that would make a difference in our classroom and schools. There is no companion bill in the Senate.

Ending Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave coverage. Fiscal estimates have been received for Senate bill 490, which would end the right to use paid sick leave while on family leave to care for a child after birth or adoption, among other negative impacts. The DOA says the bill would have a significant impact on the UW System, including resulting in nearly 6,000 employees who would no longer be eligible for FMLA. The Department of Workforce Development reports minimal savings to the state, at best. A companion bill, AB772, was introduced in late December. Email the bill’s sponsors. … Fiscal estimate from Dept. of Administration. … Department of Workforce Development report.

Assembly Education Committee votes set. The panel is set to vote on the following bills Thursday, January 11:

  • Nutrition EducationAB-215 (SB159) requires a school board to modify its instruction about nutrition to include knowledge of the nutritive value of foods and the role of a nutritious diet in promoting health. Current law requires school boards to provide instruction about the vitamin content of food and food and health values of dairy products. The bill also requires a nutrition education component be incorporated into the health education credit requirement to receive a high school diploma
  • Summer School Classes. SB-301 (AB-398) expands the types of online classes offered as summer classes or interim session classes to high school pupils and to pupils in grades 7 and 8 that qualify for state aid.
  • Firearm Possession at School. AB-496 (SB-402) creates two exceptions to the general requirement that a school board must suspend and expel a pupil if the school board determines the pupil possessed a firearm at school or while under the supervision of the school board. The first exception created under this bill is for a firearm that is lawfully stored inside a locked vehicle on school property. The second exception applies to the possession of a firearm for an activity approved and authorized by the school board if the school board adopts appropriate safeguards to ensure pupil safety.

Referendum restrictions set for vote. Two bills limiting local control of school referendums will be up for a vote by the Senate Government Operations Committee Tuesday, January 9. They are:

  • Bonding Resolution ConsiderationSB-191 (AB-282) would require common and union high school districts to vote upon an initial resolution to raise money through a bond issue (such as for building and maintenance purposes) only at the school district’s annual meeting. It would also prohibit voting on a resolution to exceed the revenue limit (such as for operating purposes) at a special meeting.
  • Referenda to Exceed Revenue Caps. SB-195 (AB-268) limits to five consecutive school years the number of years for which a school board may seek approval from voters in the school district to increase the revenue limit applicable to the district.

Revenue limit adjustment for voc-tech. A public hearing is set January 10 on AB729 (companion bill SB613), a bill to create a school district revenue limit adjustment for workforce development improvements to support vocational or technical education. A school board that receives a petition and that adopts a resolution to initiate workforce development improvements may increase its revenue limit by the amount the school district spends on the improvements in a school year, including amounts spent for debt service on a bond, note, or state trust fund loan used to finance the improvements. The term of the bond, note, or trust fund loan may not exceed 20 years. The petition must be filed jointly by the president of a local chamber of commerce or a chamber of commerce that serves the geographic area encompassing any portion of the school district and the executive director of a regional workforce development board. View Bill History

Teach grants for libraries. A committee passed AB572 (SB491), which authorizes the Division for Libraries and Technology in the Department of Public Instruction to collect and maintain public library-related data, including purchasing licenses for data collection software; training staff on the effective use of data; creating tools for libraries to use internally in analyzing, and to report to the public about, library use; and developing and implementing technology systems that allow for interoperable data exchange and automation of work processes. This bill also makes certain public libraries located in rural areas eligible to receive TEACH grants (Technology for Educational Achievement program). Currently TEACH block grants are awarded to school districts to improve information technology infrastructure and educational technology teacher training grants to school districts to train teachers in the use of educational technology. Under the bill, DOA may award grants to eligible libraries to improve information technology infrastructure in rural libraries and train librarians in rural libraries in the use of educational technology.

Student loan reimbursements. The Assembly Committee on Rural Development held a public hearing on a bill circulating to reimburse student loan debt for individuals moving into Wisconsin rural counties from out-of-state. The bill,  AB730 (SB614), would provide student loan reimbursements to those who, for at least six months, have been domiciled in a “rural county,” which the bill defines as a county that does not include a metropolitan statistical area as delineated by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. To qualify, the person must have lived outside Wisconsin for at least five years, be employed on a full-time basis and not receive any public assistance benefits. It’s unsure how much such a program would cost.

Teach grants for librariesAB572 (SB491) was passed out of committee Thursday. The bill authorizes the Division for Libraries and Technology in the Department of Public Instruction to collect and maintain public library-related data, including purchasing licenses for data collection software; training staff on the effective use of data; creating tools for libraries to use internally in analyzing, and to report to the public about, library use; and developing and implementing technology systems that allow for interoperable data exchange and automation of work processes. This bill also makes certain public libraries located in rural areas eligible to receive TEACH grants (Technology for Educational Achievement program). Currently TEACH block grants are awarded to school districts to improve information technology infrastructure and educational technology teacher training grants to school districts to train teachers in the use of educational technology. Under the bill, DOA may award grants to eligible libraries to improve information technology infrastructure in rural libraries and train librarians in rural libraries in the use of educational technology.

School board candidate signatures. The Senate Elections and Utilities Committee will vote Tuesday, January 9, on SB-260 (AB-332), which would change the signature requirement for nomination of candidates to school board in school districts that contain territory lying within a second class city. This bill permits the annual meeting of a common or union high school district or the school board of a school district to adopt a resolution to reduce the number of signatures required on nomination papers submitted by candidates for school district officer. Currently, a candidate for school district officer in a school district that contains any portion of a second class city must submit nomination papers signed by not less than 100 nor more than 200 electors. This bill permits the number of signatures that must be obtained to be reduced by resolution to not less than 20 and not more than 100 if the school district territory lying within the second class city or cities is less than or equal to 10 percent of the school district’s territory. Read all the changes.

County jailers and the WRS. A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, January 9 for AB 676 (SB 577), which would classify county jailers as protective occupation participants under the Wisconsin Retirement System and under the Municipal Employment Relations Act. While the bill would likely not have a cost impact on the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, there is insufficient knowledge as to whether this bill would increase or decrease county costs. Fiscal estimate

Bills introduced:

College credit in high school. SB-677 excludes certain college credit in high school programs from the Early College Credit Program. The bill was referred to the Senate Education Committee.

Apprenticeship Grants. SB-682 provides grants to technical college students for apprenticeships expenses and making an appropriation. The bill was referred to Senate Workforce Development, Military Affairs and Senior Issues.

Large Area School Districts. SB-685 provides supplemental aid for school districts with a large area. The bill was referred to the Senate Education Committee.

Usurp local control on workplace standards. The Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform will hold a public hearing on SB 634 (AB 748) Wednesday, January 10. The bill preempts a local municipality from enacting a local living wage, fair scheduling standard, and a host of other measures that would improve the lives of working people.

State Minimum Wage. AB-814, establishing a state minimum wage, permitting the enactment of local minimum wage ordinances, extending the time limit for emergency rule procedures, providing an exemption from emergency procedures, and requiring the exercise of rule-making authority. Referred to Assembly Labor

Counting Pupils for School Aid. AB-816, counting low-income pupils for state school aid purposes; calculating the amount to be appropriated for state general school aid; school aid factors; special adjustment aids; hold harmless aid; per pupil aid; school district revenue limits; the first dollar and school levy property tax credits; and making an appropriation. Referred to Assembly Education

Co-sponsorship memos:

LRB-4613 Memo High School College Courses (Rohrkaste, Michael) A pilot grant program to support college courses taught in high schools and making an appropriation. Deadline: Wednesday, January 10, Noon

LRB-4997 Memo UW Nonresident Grants (Murphy, Dave) Grants for certain University of Wisconsin and technical college graduates who paid non resident tuition; granting rule-making authority; and making an appropriation. Deadline: Thursday, January 11, 4 pm

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