Bills

Bills We’re Watching
2019-21 Legislative Session

APPRENTICESHIPS

Apprenticeship Grants (SB-044). Provides grants to technical college students for apprenticeship expenses.

 Youth Apprenticeship Program (SB-072). A hearing was held on this bill requiring certain occupational areas to be included in the youth apprenticeship program.

Youth Apprenticeships (SB-088). Youth apprenticeship programs.

CURRICULUM

Human Trafficking (AB22 / SB25)Establishes industry-specific materials on the recognition and prevention of human trafficking for use in the instruction in driver education courses that provide instruction in the operation of commercial motor vehicles. This will affect new drivers only.

American Indian Studies (AB-105).Model academic standards for American Indian studies.

American Indian Instruction (AB-106). Informational materials related to a school board’s obligations to provide instruction on American Indians.

American Indian Studies (AB-107). The American Indian studies requirement for teacher licensure.

Private School American Indian Instruction (AB-108). Requires private schools participating in a parental choice program and independent charter schools to provide instruction in American Indian history, culture, and tribal sovereignty.

American Indian Instruction (AB-109). Requires instruction in American Indian studies in the elementary and high school grades.

Dyslexia Guidebook (AB-110). Develops a guidebook related to dyslexia and related conditions.

Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Education (AB-377/SB-347) “Erin’s Law” would require the DPI to develop a child sexual abuse prevention policy and education for students in kindergarten through sixth grade. The proposal was referred to the Senate Committee on Education and the Assembly Committee on Children and Families.

FACILITIES

Lead Testing in Schools (SB 423 / AB 476). This bill would require school boards, independent charter schools, and voucher/special needs voucher recipient schools to test water for lead every three years. If lead is found in the water, the school must submit a remediation plan to the DPI. The bill allows a revenue limit exception for remediation of tainted water, and also authorizes loans from the School Trust Fund. SB 424 requires the same testing in recreational and educational camps and child care facilities. The Senate version has received a public hearing, and the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities has not yet taken up the companion bill.

FUNDING

School Revenue Adjustment (AB-368SB 327). This bill would alter the school district revenue limit adjustment for declining enrollment and the prior year base revenue hold harmless adjustment. 

Feasibility studies for consolidation or grade sharing (SB 409 / AB 456). This would require the Department of Public Instruction to award grants of up to $10,000 each to consortia of school districts to be used for a professional financial analysis of how school district consolidation or entering into a whole grade sharing agreement would affect the school districts.

Aid for consolidation or grade sharing (SB 412 / AB 442)This would create a categorical aid for school boards that enter into a whole grade sharing agreement and adopt a resolution to consider school district consolidation. Under the bill, the Department of Public Instruction pays an eligible school board an amount equal to $150 per pupil enrolled in a grade included in the whole grade sharing agreement. A school board may not receive this aid for more than five school years.

Shared Services (SB 413 / AB 441). This bill creates a categorical aid for a school district that enters into an agreement to share administrative personnel services with other school districts or a local unit of government. To be eligible for the aid, the school district must pass a resolution approving participation in the shared services aid program. The amount of aid a school district receives under the shared services aid program is based on the administrative positions that are shared under the agreement.

Timing of equalization aid payments to school districts. (SB 415 / AB 461). Under current law, the Department of Public Instruction pays equalization aid to school districts for each school year in the following four installments: 15 percent in September, 25 percent in December, 25 percent in March, and 35 percent in June. This bill increases the percentage of equalization aid distributed in September by 2 points each school year, and decreases the percentage of equalization aid distributed in June by 2 points each school year, until the 2023-24 school year, at which time the amount of equalization aid distributed in both September and June will be 25 percent. The result is that equalization aid will be paid to school districts in four equal installments beginning in the 2023-24 school year.

GRANTS

Character Education (AB 149 / SB 138). Authorizes the Department of Public Instruction to award grants to school districts for teachers, pupil service professionals, principals, and school district administrators to participate in professional development trainings in character education. Under the bill, DPI is authorized to make these grants for 24 months. The Senate Education Committee set a public hearing. The Assembly Education Committee has not yet taken up the bill.

Science Competition Grants (SB 459). Under this bill, the DPI would provide matching grants up to $5,000 for school teams of 6th through 12th grades to participate in science competitions through 2021. The bipartisan bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection. There is no companion bill in the Assembly.

KINDERGARTEN

Kindergarten Attendance Age (SB 407 / AB 464). This bill changes the age at which a child may attend four-year-old kindergarten. Under current law, a child is eligible to attend four-year-old kindergarten if the child is four years old on September 1 in the year the child proposes to enter school. The bill provides that a child may attend four-year-old kindergarten if the child is four years old on September 1 or will be four years old on December 31 in the school year that the child proposes to enter school. In addition, a child may be admitted to the first quarter or semester of a four-year-old kindergarten beginning after January 1 of that school year if the child is four years old on January 1 or will be four years old on June 30 in that school year.

Under current law, if a school board establishes a four-year-old kindergarten program, the school board must make the program available to all pupils who are eligible for the program. The bill provides a transitional period for school boards that were operating a four-year-old kindergarten program in the 2019-20 school year. Under the bill, such a school board does not have to make its existing four-year-old kindergarten program available to the additional pupils eligible under the bill until the beginning of the 2025-26 school year.

Kindergarten Enrollment Counts (SB 408 / AB 465). This bill changes how a pupil enrolled in a four-year-old kindergarten is counted by a school district for purposes of state aid and revenue limits. Under current law, a pupil enrolled in a four-year-old kindergarten program is counted as 0.5 pupil unless the program provides at least 87.5 additional hours of outreach activities, in which case the pupil is counted as 0.6 pupil. Under the bill, if the four-year-old kindergarten program requires full-day attendance by pupils for five days a week, a pupil enrolled in the program is counted as one pupil.

LABOR

Employee Wage Claims (SB 40 / AB 40). This bill would make changes to rules on how claims are handled when an employee has not been paid owed wages, require terms of employment statements, and prohibit the state from issuing or renewing credentials for employers with unpaid wage claims against them. This bill would allow educators more time to file wage claims to recover underpayments and allow educators to go back further to recover damages. It would also allow one claim to be filed on behalf of many educators and for more damages to be recovered in the event the claim is not resolved with the Department of Workforce Development and instead filed in circuit court. The Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform has held a public hearing. The Assembly Committee on Labor and Integrated Employment has not taken up the companion bill.

PUBLIC MEETINGS

School Board Meeting Notice (SB 160 / AB 170). This would change the way that school board meetings can be noticed. Notably, it provides that, “if a school district clerk or, in the clerk’s absence, the school district’s president determines that providing notice at least 24 hours before the meeting is, for good cause shown by the clerk or president, impossible or impractical, the clerk or resident may notify each school board member of the date, time, and place of the meeting less than 24 hours, but not less than 2 hours, before the meeting.”

SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY and RECORDS

School Report Cards. (AB 67 / SB 64). Requires school report cards to include the percentage of pupils participating in music, dance, drama, and visual arts, would be amended to clarify that changes would begin with the 2020-21 school year under an amendment offered by Rep. Joel Kitchens. Under the bill, DPI would include this information for each high school and school district, along with the statewide percentage of participation in each subject. The bill specifies that this information may not be used to evaluate a school or district’s performance. Passed Assembly, currently in Senate Education Committee. 

Pupil Records (SB57 / AB53). 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.

Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Grants (SB 498 / AB 525). This bill requires the Department of Public Instruction to establish a competitive grant program to award grants up to $1,000 (with renewals for up to three additional years) to support peer-to-peer suicide prevention programs in public, private, and tribal high schools. The bill is in the Senate Education Committee and has passed the Assembly. 

Student identification cards. (SB 496). Requires elementary, secondary, and post-secondary educational entities to include suicide prevention information on student identification cards beginning in 2020.  Referred to the Senate Education Committee.

Teacher Licensure

Minority Teacher Loan Program. (AB 51/SB 55). Provides for statewide expansion of a program offering loan forgiveness for minority teachers who teach in schools that have at least 40 percent minority students. Right now, only teachers in Milwaukee schools are eligible for the program. Passed Assembly and Senate, available for governor to sign.

Special Education Licensure (AB 164 / SB 183). This bill is almost identical to one that was circulated a couple of years back. This makes exceptions for particular license area, which could open the doors to more carving out of exceptions in specific licensing areas and lowers the standard for special education teachers, those teachers who serve Wisconsin’s most intellectually vulnerable population. Passed Assembly, Currently in Senate Education Committee.

Out-of-State Teacher License Reciprocity (AB 195 / SB 184). 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. Passed Assembly and Senate, available for governor to sign.

Teacher Prep (AB-232 / SB 230). This bill would allow flexibility for student teaching hours, so that aspiring educators could spread the required hours out over a longer period of time. Most students and must work while enrolled in school, so the bill would allow them to continue earning while student teaching. The bill also benefits paraeducators, who could continue their work with students while fulfilling their student teaching responsibilities. WEAC has registered and testified in favor of this bill. The bill has received a public hearing in the Senate Education Committee.

Changing requirements of American Indian studies for teacher licensure (AB107). Modifies the requirements related to American Indian students for teacher licensure. The language is changed from requiring “instruction in the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of the federally recognized American Indian tribes and bands located in Wisconsin” to “the culture, tribal sovereignty, and contemporary and historical significant events of the federally recognized American Indian tribes and bands located in this state.” This bill was prepared for the Joint Legislative Council’s Special Committee on State-Tribal Relations.

UW SYSTEM

UW Tuition Exemption for Immigrants (AB-413). This bill would allow eligible immigrants who are not legal permanent residents of the U.S. to receive in-state tuition to the University of Wisconsin System if they meet certain requirements, if they: 1) graduated from a Wisconsin high school or received a declaration of equivalency of high school graduation from Wisconsin; 2) were continuously present in Wisconsin for at least three years following the first day of attending a Wisconsin high school or immediately preceding receipt of a declaration of equivalency of high school graduation; and 3) enroll in a UW System institution and provides the institution with an affidavit stating that he or she has filed or will file an application for permanent residency with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as soon as the person is eligible to do so. The bill is in the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee

WRS

County jailers and the WRS (SB5/AB5). Classifies county jailers as protective occupation participants under the Wisconsin Retirement System and under the Municipal Employment Relations Act.

OTHER

Conversion Therapy (AB-111). Prohibits certain mental health providers from engaging in conversion therapy with a minor.  Conversion therapy is any practice that seeks to change an individual’s gender expression, gender identity, or sexual orientation.  In addition, the bill specifies that a violation of the prohibition in the bill by a mental health provider is grounds for professional discipline by the appropriate credentialing board. \

Voucher School Virtual Hours (SB111).

Banning the ‘R’ Word. Bans terms such as “mentally retarded” from administrative rules. Governor Tony Evers recently issued an executive order to remove “mentally retarded,” “mental retardation” and “handicapped” from the rules, but the Republican sponsor of the bill continued to bring the bill forward, saying the legislative action would be a permanent solution because an executive order could be rescinded by a later governor. Evers has indicated he would sign the bill if it gets to his desk. PASSED ASSEMBLY + SENATE.

Safety Drills. (AB 54 / SB 56) Under this bill, the person having direct charge of the public or private school may provide previous warning of any of these drills if he or she determines that providing previous warning of the drill is in the best interest of pupils attending the school. Currently, no advance notice is allowed.