WEAC Legislative Update – February 27

The Senate is still expected to meet, and more may be coming, but here’s an update on what’s happening in the Legislature. Note the upcoming legislative commission hearings on school funding at the end of this update.

Passed into Law

Health Carrier Reinsurance. Wisconsin’s Healthcare Stability Plan, Act 138, allows the state to apply for a federal waiver to offer reinsurance to Affordable Care Act insurers in Wisconsin. Under the bill, the state would help insurers cover their most expensive claims, a move that Walker has said will stabilize insurance premiums on the private market. Some lawmakers are noting that it’s ironic that the governor supported the plan given his support for GOP efforts to repeal the ACA.

Bills awaiting governor’s signature

Nutrition EducationSB159 /AB-215 would require 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.

Expanded Summer School. AB 398/ SB-301  allows an expanded number of online classes offered as summer classes or interim session classes that would qualify for state aid to school districts.

College Credit Transfers. SB-407  requires the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System  (the  Board)  to  establish  policies  for  the  transfer  of  postsecondary  credits  between institutions within the UW System, including those postsecondary credits earned by high school pupils  under  the  Youth  Options  Program. If the board  determines  that credits earned under the Youth Options Program are not transferable, the bill requires the Board to permit an individual to take an examination to determine the individual’s competency in the subject area of the course and, if the individual receives a passing score, award equivalent credits to the individual.

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

Annual School Reports. AB569 / SB-494 requires the Department of Public Instruction to publish its annual school and school district accountability report by November 30, rather than in September. This bill also changes the date by which DPI must determine whether a school is placed in the school takeover program to November 30 instead of October 15. The Senate has already passed the companion bill,

School Board Candidate Signatures. AB-332SB-260 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.

College Credit in High School. AB-805 excludes certain college-level courses offered to high school pupils enrolled in a public high school from the Early College Credit Program(ECCP), if the course satisfies certain requirements. Under the bill, a course for which a public high school student may earn postsecondary credit is excluded from the ECCP if all of the following apply Read the memo.

Low Revenue Ceiling and Sparsity Aid. Senate Bill 690 / AB 835 addresses two areas:

  • Low Revenue Ceiling: Would increase the low revenue ceiling from $9,100 to $9,400 in 2019. The bill also would increase the low revenue ceiling by $100 each school year, beginning in 2020, until the ceiling reaches $9,800 in 2023. Districts with failed operating referendums in the prior three years would not be eligible. Of the107 school districts that would be eligible under this bill, nine had failed referenda. The DPI estimates the statewide cost of this bill to be a maximum of $21.8 million in 2019, depending on whether nine additional school districts going to referendum this spring are successful.
  • Sparsity Aid: This would, beginning in 2019, increases the sparsity aid per pupil amount from $300 to $400. Under the bill, the appropriation for sparsity aid would be increased by $6.5 million in 2019.
    Sparsity aid was vetoed by the governor in the 2017-19 state budget, but he has said he supports the provisions now.

Just Introduced

AB-977 Collective Bargaining (Taylor, Chris) Collective bargaining for public employees, prohibiting employees other than public safety employees from bargaining collectively on insurance contributions and employee required contributions to retirement, granting rule-making authority, and making appropriations. Referred to Assembly Labor

AB-980 Parental Choice Program (Pope, Sondy) The requirements for participation in a parental choice program and the percentage of pupils who may attend a private school under such a program. Referred to Assembly Education

Upcoming legislative meetings on school funding

The Legislature’s Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding will hold a public hearing Monday, March 5 at 1:30 p.m. at the North Woods International School, N2541 Sablewood Rd., La Crosse. The Blue Ribbon Commission will hear testimony from invited speakers including representatives from the Sparta Public School District, Onalaska School District, and CESA 4. Following the presentations, members of the public are invited to speak and share their thoughts.

The commission will hold another public hearing Monday, March 26 in De Pere from 2-6 p.m. The hearing will take place at Foth 2121 Innovation Court De Pere. The commission will hear testimony from invited speakers including representatives from the Chamber of Commerce- Partners in Education and CESA 7. Following the presentations, members of the public are invited to speak and share their thoughts.

To ensure all of those in attendance are able to be heard, public testimony will be limited to 5 minutes. For assistance in developing your testimony, contact communications@weac.org.

WEAC’s Legislative Agenda

Bills We’re Watching