Legislative Update – January 19

The Assembly was in session this week and will convene again on Tuesday, January 23.  The Senate will meet on Tuesday, January 23.  The Governor will hold his State of the State on Wednesday, January 24.


Rep. Theisfeldt Bill. After an outpouring of opposition to a bill that would be detrimental to our most vulnerable students, while doing nothing to protect teachers, we aren’t expecting much movement on this one. The bill, circulated by Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, 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.

Gov calls special session on state’s welfare programs, including adding work-for-food. The proposals, authored by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, includes allowing the Department of Health Services to increase the work requirement for food stamps. The package, dubbed Wisconsin Works for Everyone, also would seek permission to issue electronic benefit cards that include pictures of the food stamp participants. Read the governor’s press release.


Merit Scholarships. The Assembly Committee on Government Accountability and Oversight will hold a public hearing this morning on a bill that would provide merit scholarships to students at UW schools.

Student loan reimbursements. The Senate Workforce Development Committee held a public hearing January 17 on SB614/AB730. The measure would reimburse student loan debt for individuals moving into Wisconsin rural counties from out-of-state. Student loan reimbursements would be made 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. The companion bill is up for a committee vote today.

College Credit in High School. AB-805  would exclude certain college credit in high school programs from the Early College Credit Program.

Apprenticeship Grants. AB-808 would allow grants to technical college students for apprenticeship expenses.

Robotics league participation grantsSB483/AB564 expands eligibility for robotics grants to include sixth- through eighth-grade teams. Public Hearing held.


Firearm Possession at School. The Assembly rules committee passed AB-496, suspending and expelling a pupil for possession of a firearm at school.

College Credit Transfers. The Assembly Colleges & Universities Committee passed SB-407, concerning transfer policies for college credit earned by high school pupils.

Pupil Instruction Pilot Program. AB-221 would create a pilot program under which certain school districts are not required to provide a minimum number of hours of direct pupil instruction.

Worker’s Comp. Council Composition. AB-308  concerns the composition of the Council on Worker’s Compensation.

Apprenticeship Participation. AB-745  concerns participation in an apprenticeship program by a high school senior and granting rule-making authority.


School Board Candidate Signatures. AB-332/SB-260  This changes 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.

Teach grants for librariesAB572/SB491 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.

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.


Child Labor Permits. SB-420/AB 504 allows a minor to be employed without a child labor permit by a family business.


Sparsity Aid. SB-690  would increase money for cash poor school districts. The governor is backing the bill, despite the fact just months ago he vetoed the item from his state budget. Remember, with the passage of the 2017-2019 budget, Wisconsin dropped below the national average in per-child funding. Click here to read more.