Legislative Update: February 8, 2019

On the same day Governor Tony Evers formally announced the middle-class tax cut plan he campaigned on, Republicans passed their own proposal (AB 4/SB 18) through committee along party lines, and it passed the Joint Finance Committee Thursday. The Assembly is set to vote on it Tuesday, and Friday Assembly Speaker Robin Vos hinted at negotiating. The Senate’s next floor session is Wednesday. Democrats had introduced a substitute amendment – the governor’s tax relief plan, which failed to garner Republican support. Democrats said they would like to see the tax cut proposal as part of the governor’s budget, but felt it was important to offer the substitute amendment as well, seeing that the GOP tax proposal was moving through the legislative process. The proposal:

  • Caps the Manufacturing and Agricultural Tax Credit at $300,000. The aggregate amount of credits that may be claimed by all partners of a partnership, all members of an LLC, and all shareholders of a tax-option corporation may not exceed $22,500 in any taxable year.
  • Creates a new individual income tax credit for taxable years beginning in 2019. The credit is nonrefundable and may be claimed only up to the amount of the taxpayer’s income tax liability. For individuals and head of household filings with AGI less than $80,000 or a married couple filing jointly with AGI less than $125,000 the credit is equal to 10 percent of the claimant’s net tax liability or $100, whatever is greater.
  • For taxable years beginning after 2019, an individual who is eligible to claim the federal earned income tax credit may claim as a credit against Wisconsin taxes due 11 percent of the amount the claimant may claim under the federal credit if the claimant has one qualifying child, 14 percent for two qualifying children, and 34 percent for three or more qualifying children. The credit is refundable.

In total, the cost is projected at $218.7 million in 2019, and $205.9 million in 2020. According to the Governor’s office the Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit limitations pay for more than half of the fiscal effect of his Middle Class Tax Relief Credit and the EITC expansion. Read more about them here.

Governor Evers’ Budget Address is February 28. Governor Evers will give his budget address to the Legislature on Thursday, February 28.  The time has yet to be confirmed.

School Safety Grants. The Department of Justice approved a request for the creation of a 1.0 FTE two-year project position to train school staff and manage school staff training in the Milwaukee area.

Roads. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he has “become a bigger believer” in tolling as a solution to Wisconsin’s transportation challenges. But the Juneau Republican warned during a panel discussion at the Wisconsin Counties Association Legislative Exchange Friday he would not move forward with a tolling proposal unless he had support from Governor Tony Evers. Tolling is also the preferred road funding method of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester.

Identification and Management of Dyslexia Committee Final Report. The Legislative Council Study Committee on Identification and Management of Dyslexia has released its final report. The Committee has made the following recommendations:

  • LRB-0368/2. Employing a Dyslexia Specialist at the Department of Public Instruction.
    • This proposal would require DPI to hire a dyslexia specialist beginning in the 2019-20 school year and provides $95,000 per year to fund the positions. The dyslexia specialist duties would include:
      • Provide schools with information, technical assistance, and support related to dyslexia and related conditions.
      • Provide schools with information, technical assistance, and support related to addressing the needs of pupils with dyslexia and related conditions.
      • Increase professional awareness in schools, and instructional competencies of teachers, to meet the educational needs of pupils with dyslexia and related conditions.
      • Develop implementation guidance and make recommendations to the state superintendent of public instruction for comprehensive, scientifically based reading instruction practices and strategies to be used to assist regular education teachers and special education teachers to recognize educational needs of and improve literacy outcomes for pupils with dyslexia and related conditions or identified with risk characteristics associated with dyslexia and related conditions.
  • LRB-0383/3. Developing a Guidebook Related to Dyslexia and Related Conditions.
    • Requires DPI to develop a guidebook for parents, guardians, teachers, and administrators regarding dyslexia and related conditions. The guidebook must be developed by the state superintendent of public instruction establishing an advisory committee. The guidebook must include all of the following information:
      • Guidelines on screening processes and tools available to identify dyslexia and related conditions.
      • A description of interventions and instructional strategies that have been shown to improve academic performance of pupils with dyslexia and related conditions.
      • A description of resources and services related to dyslexia and related conditions that are available to pupils with dyslexia and related conditions, parents and guardians of such pupils, and educators.
  • Alternative Licensure
    • The Committee recommends the Legislature consider options to ensure that all applicants for an educator license must fulfill requirements to complete student teaching and obtain a passing score on the FoRT test.
  • Lifetime Licensure
    • The Committee recommends the Legislature consider the repercussions of the lifetime educator license created in the 2017-19 Biennial Budget Act and its impact on teacher effectiveness.
  • Grade Ranges for Educator Licenses
    • The Committee recommends the Legislature consider the effectiveness of broadened grade ranges for educator licenses issued under ch. PI 34.

Investment and Use of the School Trust Funds

Career and Tech Ed Grants. The Senate Committee on Economic Development, Commerce and Trade has scheduled a public hearing Wednesday on Senate Bill 16, career and technical education incentive grants to school districts. SB 16 increases funding for the grants by $3.5 million in both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 fiscal years.  Under current law, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) may award an incentive grant to a school district in which students successfully completed certain industry-recognized certification programs.

Bills Introduced:

  • SB-018 Tax Deduction Increase, Increasing the maximum deduction under the individual income tax sliding scale standard deduction.
  • AB-005 County Jailers. Classifying county jailers as protective occupation participants under the Wisconsin Retirement System and the treatment of county jailers under the Municipal Employment Relations Act.
  • SB-019/ AB-020 Ban the R-word. This would ban the “R-word” from administrative code. LRB-1327 explains that a 2012 law deleted this offensive term from our statutes, however did not go far enough. This offensive terminology is still found in some of administrative code. LRB-1327 will instruct the DHS, DCF, PSC, DSPS and DWD to strike “mentally retarded” and similar phrases found in their rules and replace them with the phrase “intellectual disability.”
  • SB-023 Supermajority Required. Requiring a supermajority vote for bills overturning local government policies, ordinances, resolutions, and regulations.
  • SB-024 Supermajority for Bill Passage. Supermajority vote required for passage of bills, adoption of resolutions, and confirmation of appointments taken up after general election.
  • SB-025 Human Trafficking Driver Ed. Driver education instruction on human trafficking.
  • AB-012 Internship Grants. Establishing new internship grants.
  • AB-013 Workforce Training Grants. Workforce training grants for seminars in high-demand fields to teach new skills and provide micro-credentials.

Bills Circulating for Co-Sponsorship:

  • LRB-1376Memo Teacher Loans. The minority teacher loan program.
  • LRB-1212Memo School Lunch Requirements. Imposing requirements related to school lunch and breakfast programs in certain schools
  • LRB 1641/1: Allowing an elector to show his or her ballot. Under current law, an elector who shows his or her marked ballot to any person or places a mark upon the ballot so it is identifiable as his or her ballot is guilty of a Class I felony. This bill eliminates that prohibition.
  • LRB-1170/1, Local Government Special Election Cost Relief Act.This bill requires the Elections Commission to reimburse counties and municipalities for certain costs incurred in the administration of special primaries and special elections for state or national office. A cost is eligible for reimbursement only if certain conditions are met, including that the commission determines the cost is reasonable and the rate paid by the county or municipality for the cost does not exceed the rate customarily paid for similar costs at a primary or election that is not a special primary or election.
  • LRB-1250 Memo School Barricade Devices. This bill provides that the Department of Safety and Professional Services may not prohibit, and a city, village, or town may not enact or enforce an ordinance that prohibits, a public or private elementary or secondary school from installing a barricade device on an interior door in the school building. The bill defines a “barricade device” as an anchoring mechanism installed on the interior side of a door. The bill also provides that, before installing a barricade device in a school building, a school must obtain approval in writing from the local fire department and local law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the school building. Under current law, all school boards and governing bodies of private schools must have a school safety plan in effect that includes certain information and must provide school safety plan training to certain persons. The bill requires that a school safety plan must also include guidelines for the use of any barricade device installed in a school building or facility and that school safety plan training must include training on the use of any barricade device installed in a school building or facility.
  • LRB-1609 Pupil Records. This bill adds the name of a pupil’s parents or guardians to the list of categories of pupil information that a public school may designate as directory data, and thus, release to any person after a public school notifies parents and guardians of the categories of pupil information the school has designated as directory data, informs parents and guardians of an opt out procedure for such disclosures, and provides sufficient time for parents and guardians to utilize the opt out procedure. Current categories of “directory data” include the pupil’s name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, dates of attendance, photographs, weight and height as a member of an athletic team, degrees and awards received, and the school the pupil attended most recently. Memo
  • LRB-1630/1: Fire, tornado, and school safety drills for public and private schools. 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. Under current law, the person having direct charge of any public or private school must drill all pupils in what to do in the case of a fire, tornado, and school safety incident. Current law requires that these drills be conducted without previous warning.
  • LRB-1584/1, Comprehensive Youth Apprenticeship Opportunities Act. This bill requires the Department of Workforce Development to include 16 specific occupational areas, commonly referred to as “career clusters,” for the youth apprenticeship program.  Under current law, DWD is required to approve and maintain a list of approved career clusters, but is not required to include any specific career cluster. Memo


The Legislative Reference Bureau has released a new report titled, “Profile of the 2019 Wisconsin Legislature.” According to the report:

  • Of the 33 Senators, 8 are women, 2 are African American women.
  • 25 Senators previously served in the Assembly.
  • 10 Senators had local government experience.
  • The Senate average age is 58 (the oldest since 1948; Age range 31-91).
  • 7 Senators have military service.
  • Of the 99 Representatives, 28 are women, 5 are African American, 3 are Hispanic.
  • 64 Representatives had local government experience.
  • The Assembly average age is 49 (Age range 19-80).
  • 9 Representatives have military service.

Senate Committee On Economic Development, Commerce, & Trade. Here’s what they’re discussing:

  • SB-015 Internship Grants
  • SB-016 Career & Techncial Education Incentive Grants
  • SB-017 Workforce Training Grants for Seminars in High-Demand Fields

Read about the package of bills to stop runaway campaign cash

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