Legislative Update – April 20

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee will hold its final budget hearing in Green Bay on Wednesday. Since the hearings were held during the school day when educators are with students, click here for an easy way to give your input via email:

If you can get to the Green Bay hearing, here’s what you need to know:

Wednesday, April 24
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
University Union – Phoenix Rooms, UW-Green Bay
2430 Campus Court, Green Bay

Find budget details and talking points HERE!

If you want more information, or want to volunteer to help in different ways, drop me an email!

OTHER UPDATES:

Assembly Education Committee Meets. The panel passed three bills out of committee:

  • Pupil Records (AB53 / SB57). Expands pupil information allowed to be disclosed by a public school to include the names of parents or guardians. Under current law, the information that may be included in “directory data” that may be disclosed to any person (as long as a public school notifies families of the categories of information and informs families an opt out procedure) includes pupil name, address, telephone, date/place of birth, major field of study, activity/sport participation, attendance dates, photographs, weight and height as member of athletic team, degrees/awards, and most recent school attended. School districts may include all, some or none of the categories to designate as directory data.
  • Safety Drills. (AB 54 / SB56) Allows the person having direct charge of the public or private school to provide previous warning of any of these drills if he or she determines that is in the best interest of pupilsattending the school. Currently, no advance notice is allowed.
  • School Report Cards. (AB67 /SB64Requires the Department of Public Instruction to include the percentage of pupils participating in music, dance, drama, and visual arts in annual school and school district report cards starting with the 2020-21 reports. The DPI would include this information for each high school and school district, along with the statewide percentage of pupils participating in each subject. This information would not be allowed in evaluating school performance or district improvement.

The Assembly Education Committee also held public hearings on these two bills:

  • AB 129, which would allow voucher schools to provide hours of direct pupil instruction virtually in times of emergency or inclement weather as public schools are allowed; and
  •  AB 110, which comes as a recommendation of the Joint Legislative Council’s Study Committee on Identification and Management of Dyslexia. The guidebook is a resource for parents and teachers of dyslexic students, and would be created by the DPI through an advisory committee.

CLICK HERE TO CONTACT THE ASSEMBLY EDUCATION COMMITTEE WITH FEEDBACK!

Governor Evers: 100 Days On-the-Job. Governor Tony Evers’ 100th day in office this week. Our members tell us they are hopeful, yet guarded, as they consider the new administration. Highlights include his proposed 2019-21 budget that increases funding for public schools and freezes voucher expansion. As expected, gridlock and lame duck lawsuits have been lowlights.

Governor Talks Possible Budget Veto. Gov. Evers said he is willing to veto the entire budget if the Republican legislature doesn’t provide a budget he can work with, calling such a veto a last resort. He said that could be a veto of certain parts of a budget that Republicans feel very strongly about, and said he hoped it wouldn’t come to that. However, Republican leaders have said they may scrap the guv’s entire proposal and start from scratch following the statewide Joint Finance Committee hearings.

Lame Duck Lawsuits. The state Supreme Court has agreed to take up two of the lawsuits against the lame duck legislation. On Monday, the Court set oral arguments in a suit filed by the League of Women Voters and others for May 15.That case is a GOP appeal of a judge’s ruling to invalidate all of the Legislature’s actions in during the December extraordinary session. The Court on Friday said it will also take an appeal pending in the 3rd District Court of Appeals that was filed in the lawsuit brought by SEIU and others. In that case, a Dane County judge temporarily enjoined parts of the laws Republicans approved in the extraordinary session, including one requiring the attorney general to get legislative approval before settling cases.

Also this week, the Court rejected all but one option GOP lawmakers suggested to restore appointments they pushed through in December. The governor rescinded 15 of those appointments after the lame duck session was ruled invalid by a Dane County judge. The fate of that final option to reinstate GOP appointments remains to be seen.

Listening Sessions. Dems are holding Medicaid expansion town halls across the state. Much of Governor Evers’ budget depends on the Medicaid expansion funding, so you’re encouraged to participate and connect the dots between the funding, access to health care for our students and their families, and public education investments. Let me know if you need more information. Here are the coming dates:

  • Tuesday, April 30, Beloit and Viroqua

Circulating for Co-Sponsorship
Here’s what we’re watching. We’ll provide analysis if and when bills are introduced.

Sparsity Aid. LRB 1271/1 & 2741/1 were drafted from the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding. Sparsity Aid is available to districts with less than 745 pupils, or if the density of the pupils is less than ten pupils per square mile. Districts that meet either definition in the previous school year are eligible for sparsity aid in the amount of $400 per pupil. This creates two tiers of sparsity aid, at the $400 per pupil tier, the membership would increase from 745 pupils to 1,000 pupils. The second tier would provide aid in the amount of $100 per pupil, for districts with membership greater than 1,000 pupils, but not more than 2,700 pupils.

Shared costs and the secondary cost ceiling for general equalization. LRB 1260/1 and the companion draft LRB 2737/1 were drafted from the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding. LRB 1260/1 makes two changes that will apply to negative tertiary aid districts. First it raises the secondary cost ceiling per pupil from 90 percent of the previous school year statewide shared cost per pupil to 100 percent.  In addition, it excludes expenditures authorized by an operating or capital referendum from the calculation of the district’s shared costs for a negative tertiary aid district.

Out-of-State Teacher License Reciprocity. LRB 1108/1 and companion LRB 2734/1 would change the way a person who has been educated and licensed to teach out of state can become licensed to teach in the state of Wisconsin. This bill would continue to allow a person who is educated and licensed out of state to begin teaching in Wisconsin with a 1 Year License with Stipulations.  After two successful semesters, that person would then be eligible for a License Based on Reciprocity. Furthermore, this bill would move the License Based on Reciprocity to a Tier II Provisional License. 

Licensing for Special Education Teachers. Currently, special education teachers can have a license with stipulations for three years and then are required to take and pass a FORT examination, which can be costly, time consuming, and has no correlation with transfer of knowledge to children in the classroom. This legislation creates an additional option to the FORT exam that enables special education teachers to earn their professional license. It does not in any way change or eliminate the FORT exam, it simply creates another option. This bill was drafted in response to feedback that candidates for the professional teaching license would rather receive meaningful instruction, coaching, and feedback through rigorous coursework than memorize terms and study guides to pass a standardized test. In addition, there is compelling data which states that receiving feedback from a professor or coach directly transfers to students in the classroom, while testing does not.