Legislative Update – January 4, 2019

As Wisconsin prepares for the inauguration of our next governor on Monday, Tony Evers continues to announce his appointees. Last week, WEAC announced the appointment of Department of Public Instruction head Carolyn Stanford Taylor, who will fill out Evers’ term until 2021. Also notable are:

  • State Rep. Peter Barca as Secretary of the Department of Revenue. Barca’s departure would lead to a special election to fill his seat in Assembly District 64.
  • State Sen. Caleb Frostman as Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development. He won a June special election to represent Senate District 1, but then lost the election November 6.
  • Dawn Crim as Secretary of the Department of Safety and Professional Services. Crim is assistant state superintendent of the Division of Student and School Success at the DPI.
  • Andrea Palm as Secretary of the Department of Health Services. She worked for the Obama Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton.
  • Emilie Amundson as Secretary of the Department of Children and Families. She is DPI Chief of Staff.
  • Brian Pahnke as Budget Director. He is an assistant state superintendent for finance and management at the Department of Public Instruction, and has held finance posts at multiple state agencies, including in the state budget office under former Gov. Tommy Thompson.

Bills Circulating. With the legislative session kicking off Monday, bills are already circulating for co-sponsorship. WEAC will continue to monitor and provide analysis should the bills move forward.

  • Open Records. This would make open records law retention standards apply to members of the legislature. Read the Memo.
  • Pre-Existing Conditions. After a lame duck session bill flopped, Republican legislators are looking to introduce the bill again. The proposed bill doesn’t include a cap on yearly or lifetime costs, which is one of the reasons Senate Democrats voted against the bill last month. Read the Memo.

Pundits Anticipate Gridlock. Those in-the-know are anticipating plenty of gridlock after the Republican-majority Legislature convenes and the new governor is sworn in Monday. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald got a head-start by issuing a statement this week to raise fears over taxes, and several groups are vowing to launch legal challenges to the December lame duck session to take away some of the governor’s powers. Meanwhile, Assembly Minority Leader Robin Vos says there’ll be a lot of additional hires to manage all the powers the Legislature gave itself over the governor. Lawmakers say the atmosphere after the lame duck session remains toxic, dimming prospects of compromise. Evers, however, says he’s approaching the session hoping to work with Republicans.

Proposed Legislative Calendar. The Legislature will vote Monday on a 2019-10 calendar that would have two fewer weeks. The proposed calendar shows a January 4, 2021, inauguration date.

State Budget. Evers is transitioning into his role as governor promoting the budget he campaigned on: fully funding the Department of Public Instruction request he submitted as state schools superintendent; expanding Medicaid; providing a 10 percent middle-class tax cut; and finding more resources for roads. Yet, on the heels of Governor-Elect Evers’ budget listening sessions, insiders are talking about the possibility of the Legislature foregoing any Evers’ budget request and crafting their own instead. Evers has said he plans to ask to introduce his budget in late February or early March, an extension that isn’t uncommon for first-time governors.

Legislative Committees. Legislative leaders have appointed committee members for the coming session and WEAC will highlight key panels as we launch into the new session. We look forward to working with member-educators to make sure our students and the issues that matter to public education are front-and-center back home with elected representatives.

Evers names three to lead on state budget, veterans affairs and financial institution … Bran Pahnke was named new budget director, DFI secretary Kathy Blumenfeld, DVA secretary Mary Kolar.

PolitiFact: As he prepares to leave office, Scott Walker’s record on the Truth-O-Meter isn’t good … for Walker’s 196 fact checks: True: 13%, Mostly True: 22, Half True: 19, Mostly False: 19, False: 21, Pants on Fire: 6. Some highlights.

Senate committee membership for the 2019-20 legislative session has been announced. As we reported previously, former Berlin school board member state Senator Luther Olsen is returning as chairman of the Senate Committee on Education. Former Assembly Reps. and newly elected Senators Dale Kooyenga and Kathy Bernier are new to the committee as well as former Somerset school board member Patty Schachtner, who was elected in a special election last year.  Below is the full committee roster and the school districts they represent. If you are a board member or administrator in one of these districts you are in a prime position to influence committee action on K-12 legislation this session.

Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), Chair
14th Senate District

School Districts: Adams-Friendship Area, Baraboo, Beaver Dam, Berlin Area, Cambria-Friesland, Clintonville, Columbus, DeForest Area, Fall River, Green Lake, Horicon, Iola-Scandinavia, Lodi, Manawa, Marion, Markesan, Montello, New London, Omro, Pardeeville Area, Portage Community, Poynette, Princeton, Randolph, Rio Community, Ripon Area, Rosendale-Brandon, Rosholt, Sauk Prairie, Sun Prairie Area, Tigerton, Waunakee, Waupaca, Waupun Area, Wautoma Area, Westfield, Weyauwega-Fremont, Wild Rose, Winneconne Community, Wisconsin Dells

Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), Vice Chair
8th Senate District

School Districts: Arrowhead UHS, Brown Deer, Cedarburg, Erin, Fox Point J2, Germantown, Glendale-River Hills, Friess Lake, Grafton, Hamilton, Hartford J1, Hartford UHS, Maple Dale-Indian Hill, Menomonee Falls, Mequon-Thiensville, Merton Community, Milwaukee, Nicolet UHS, Port Washington-Saukville, Richmond, Whitefish Bay

Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater)
11th Senate District

School Districts: Beloit, Beloit Turner, Big Foot UHS, Burlington Area, Cambridge, Clinton Community, Delavan-Darien, East Troy Community, Elkhorn Area, Fontana J8, Fort Atkinson, Geneva J4, Genoa City J2, Janesville, Jefferson, Lake Geneva J1, Lake Mills Area, Linn J4, Linn J6, Milton, Mukwonago, Oconomowoc Area, Palmyra-Eagle Area, Randall J1, Sharon J11, Walworth J1, Wheatland J1, Whitewater Unified, Williams Bay, Wilmot UHS

Sen. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield)*
5th Senate District

School Districts: Elmbrook, Milwaukee, New Berlin, Waukesha, Wauwatosa, West Allis-West Milwaukee



Sen. Kathleen Bernier (R-Lake Hallie)*
23rd Senate District

School Districts: Abbotsford, Altoona, Augusta, Bloomer, Cadott Community, Chippewa Falls Area Unified, Colby, Colfax, Cornell, Edgar, Elk Mound Area, Fall Creek, Granton Area, Greenwood, Lake Holcombe, Loyal, Marshfield Unified, Neillsville, Nekoosa, New Auburn, Osseo-Fairchild, Owen-Withee, Spencer, Stanley-Boyd Area, Stratford, Thorp

Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee)
7th Senate District

School Districts: Cudahy, Franklin, Milwaukee, Oak Creek-Franklin, Saint Francis, South Milwaukee



Sen. Janet Bewley (D-Mason)
25th Senate District

School Districts: Ashland, Barron Area, Bayfield, Birchwood, Boyceville Community, Butternut, Cameron, Clear Lake, Chequamegon, Chetek-Weyerhaeuser Area, Clayton, Cumberland, Drummond Area, Flambeau, Glenwood City, Hayward Community, Hurley, Lac du Flambeau #1, Lakeland UHS, Luck, Maple, Mellen, Mercer, New Auburn, Northwood, Phillips, Prairie Farm, Prentice, Rib Lake, Rice Lake Area, Shell Lake, Siren, Solon Springs, South Shore, Spooner, Superior, Turtle Lake, Unity, Washburn, Webster

Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee)
6th Senate District

School Districts: Milwaukee



Sen. Patty Schachtner (D-Somerset)
10th Senate District

School Districts: Amery, Baldwin-Woodville Area, Boyceville Community, Clayton, Frederic,  Glenwood City, Grantsburg, Hudson, Luck, Menomonie Area, New Richmond, Osceola, River Falls, Saint Croix Central, Saint Croix Falls, Siren, Somerset, Webster

*-will assume office on January 7, 2019

Spring elections. There will be no statewide primary next month after only Appeals Court judges Brian Hagedorn and Lisa Neubauer filed for a chance to replace retiring liberal Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson.

Meanwhile, no one filed nomination papers to run against outgoing AG Brad Schimel for the Waukesha Circuit Court position to which Gov. Scott Walker appointed him.

Also, none of the candidates for the appeals court will be opposed on the April ballot. That includes incumbents Lisa K. Stark, of Eau Claire, in the 3rd, and Mark Gundrum, of Waukesha, in the 2nd.

Also, Jennifer Nashold, an administrative law judge, is unopposed for the vacancy on the 4th District.

See more on candidates who filed to run in the spring election: