WEAC Education Advocacy Update – October 25, 2019

Special session on gun legislation. The governor has called a special session of the Legislature starting Nov. 7, calling on legislators to take up “red-flag” law legislation and a bill to create universal background checks. The governor can’t force lawmakers to vote on the bills, and this week Republican leaders signaled they will not take up the measures.

Senate Education Committee
The Senate Ed Committee will meet Tuesday to take up the following bills:

  • Parental Choice Program (SB 495 / AB-554). Application and reporting deadlines for the statewide parental choice program and evidence of accreditation for a private school participating in a parental choice program.

Assembly Education Committee
Public hearings were held this week on:

  • Competitive grants for prevention programs in high schools (AB 528). Appropriates $250,000 per year to DPI for distribution in the form of competitive grants. Grants may be up to $1,000 per school and may be renewed up to three times.
  • WISH Grants (AB 529).Requires DPI annually award a grant to CESA to support the work of the Wisconsin Safe and Healthy Schools Center, funded with $70,000 this year and $200,000 the next.
  • Student identification card information (AB-531). Requires elementary, secondary, and post-secondary educational entities to include suicide prevention information on student identification cards beginning in 2020. 

Other hearings:

  • School Revenue Limit Adjustment for Energy Efficiency Projects. (SB 494 / AB-553). This bill eliminates a restriction that a school board must have passed a resolution before January 1, 2018 to qualify for an adjustment, making it available to a board that adopts a resolution on or after date on which the bill becomes law. The bill also changes eligibility requirements and adds in some new accountability measures.

Circulating for Co-Sponsorship

  • LRB-3579/P1 – Popular election of members of technical college boards: The bill, which would restructure technical college district boards to be elected at-large rather than appointed based on a representation plan, was circulated for co-sponsorship September 5, but to date has not been formally introduced.

To contact your elected officials on any of these issues, use the “Find Your Legislators” link at www.weac.org/take-action.

Governor’s Veto Powers. A Senate committee has approved SB 482, a constitutional amendment to limit the governor’s partial veto powers. The resolution would have to pass both houses in two terms, then pass a statewide referendum, before taking effect.

Lame duck lawsuit. The state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this week in a lawsuit raising separation of powers issues to overturn Republicans’ actions in the lame-duck session. The suit, filed by SEIU and others, is the final pending legal action seeking to invalidate actions from the December extraordinary session. In one of the suits, a federal judge overturned new restrictions on early, in-person absentee voting that Republicans approved. But two other suits challenging the heart of the actions have been rejected by the state Supreme Court and a federal judge. AG Josh Kaul will personally appear before the high court to make his case to overturn new restrictions on the power of his office. It will be the first time Kaul has argued before the state Supreme Court. Read more from MKE Journal Sentinel, and this take on it from WI Examiner.

Find all the bills we’re watching at www.weac.org/bills.