Legislative Update – April 28

WEAC Legislative Update

The Assembly on Tuesday has several items on the docket, including a broadband expansion bill, as well as legislation that would give lawmakers direct oversight on how the state plans to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. And, with the Joint Finance Committee preparing to begin votes on Monday, here’s a video of political insiders debating transportation, self-insurance, education and more.

Every Student Succeeds Act. The draft Wisconsin ESSA plan is now available for review. AB 233 prohibits the DPI from submitting its ESSA plan to the feds without first responding to any objections filed by members of the Senate or Assembly education committees. This, even though records show up the GOP has had little feedback to date. Only one Republican lawmaker, Rep. Romaine Quinn of Chetek, responded to the DPI invitation in January to submit comments. The bill has no Senate sponsors and Senate Ed Chair Luther Olsen said he won’t hold a hearing. A hearing on the plan, with invited testimony only, will be held for the Senate and Assembly Education committees on Wednesday, where the DPI will provide a briefing on the draft Wisconsin implementation plan. See the bill history here. Find resources on ESSA and the process used to develop Wisconsin’s plan here.

Join educators in applauding two voucher accountability bills.

  • Voucher transparency. The Wisconsin Voucher Taxpayer Transparency bill (SB 183) requires property tax bills include information on the amount of any net reduction in state aid to the home district as a result of pupils enrolled in any of the state’s school voucher programs.
  • Voucher spending referendum. Four Democratic legislators are advancing a bill to give property taxpayers the final say on whether they want to be on the hook for tax dollars taken directly out of public schools to fund vouchers. The bill would require a referendum to pass before voucher schools can take state aid out of a public school district. The 2015 state budget changed state law to divert state funding to voucher schools at a rate much higher per student than public schools receive.

Campus speech. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says a bill circulating this week for co-sponsorship on campus free speech is designed to allow “more speech.” Under the bill, University of Wisconsin System students who disrupt speeches on campus could face expulsion. The bill would also require universities to stay neutral on public policy controversies. Read the co-sponsorship memo.

Mental health. Mental health in schools is a hot topic among teachers and education support professionals, and the Legislature is taking some small steps to address growing problems of trauma, bullying and broken homes – including mental health training (AB 11) and recovery charter schools (AB 6).

Governor continues his budget tour. The governor stopped at North Lakeland School this week as he continues to promote his school budget proposals, which calls for a per-pupil increase of $204/$200 in each year of the budget for public school students. The increases are in sharp contrast to the cuts in his previous budgets, which will not be restored with what is essentially an inflationary increase for schools. And, given that his plan provides the aid outside of the school funding formula, schools impacted most by previous cuts will receive the same as wealthy districts. It’s worth noting that private voucher schools will receive increases of $217 per pupil, per year.

Coming Up in the Legislature

May 1

  • Joint Finance Committee scheduled to be in executive session.

May 2

  • Assembly will be in session, taking up:
    • AB-025 Child Labor Permits. Child labor permits and modifying references to child labor in the statutes. The companion bill passed out of the Senate Public Benefits, Licensing and State-Federal Relations Committee this week.
    • AB-095 School Board Member Salary Refusal. Authorizing a school board member to refuse his or her salary.
    • AB-123 Broadband Expansion. The information technology block grant program, the broadband expansion grant program, waiving certain fees and appraisals, and making appropriations.
    • AB-233 ESSA State Plan. Submitting a state plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act.
    • SB-062 School Board Member Salary Refusal. Authorizing a school board member to refuse his or her salary.
  • Senate is set to be in session, taking up:
    • SB-216 Prevailing Wage Repeal. Senate Labor and Regulatory Reform plans an executive session on elimination of the requirement that laborers, workers, mechanics, and truck drivers employed on the site of a public works project be paid prevailing wage.

May 3

  • Joint Senate and Assembly Education Committee meets for an informational hearing on ESSA.

Other education bills

AB-267 Aid Reduction Info on Tax Bill. Including with the property tax bill information regarding state aid reductions to school districts. Referred to Assembly Local Government

AB-268 School Referenda. School board referendums to exceed revenue limit applicable to a school district. Referred to Assembly Education

AB-269 Referendum Scheduling. Scheduling of school district referendums to exceed revenue limits. Referred to Assembly Education

AB-280 Financial Literacy in Schools. Incorporating financial literacy into the curriculum of public schools. Referred to Assembly Financial Institutions

AB-282 Bonding Resolution Consideration. Consideration of resolution to issue bond by common and union high school districts and prohibiting voting on a resolution to exceed the revenue limit of a school district at a special meeting. Referred to Assembly Education

Emergency rules in effect

DPI. EmR1623. Emergency licensure changes to PI 34. (August 22, 2016 – May 19, 2017).

DPI. EmR1624. Robotics competition grants. (September 2, 2016 – May 29, 2017)

DPI. EmR1630. Revisions to the special needs scholarship program. (November 1, 2016 – May 29, 2017).

Final Permanent Rules filed with LRB for Administrative Code Publication

DPI. CR 16-056. High cost special education aid.

DPI. CR 16-057. Changes to summer and interim session classes.

DPI. CR 16-066. Revisions to the special needs scholarship program.

Don’t see something in the wrap-up? Looking for more information? Contact Christina Brey.