November 17, 2023

Ed Advocacy Update: Sessions, Hearings and Supreme Court Considers Taking Up Voucher Suit

Assembly, Senate Hold Floor Sessions

Assembly and Senate have held their final floor sessions for 2023, passing the pared down Brewers stadium repair deal which Governor Tony Evers has said he will sign.

The Legislature also passed a bill to create grants for recovery high schools, for which $500,000 is earmarked to serve students in recovery from substance abuse, another requiring a supply of opioid antagonist be maintained at school, and a requirement that the DPI distribute information about its mental health training program annually.

$2B Tax Cut Package Includes Education Provisions

The Legislature also passed a $2 billion tax cut package, after Republicans pushed back for months against the governor’s proposal for investments in child care and workforce development, along with paid family and medical leave, UW funding and more. Education-related provisions in the package include:
  • Grow Your Own Program Grants, $5M
  • Teacher Improvement Stipends, $2.4M
  • Library Intern Stipends, $50,000
  • Student Teacher Stipends, $7M
  • Cooperating Teacher Stipends, $2M

Supreme Court Weighs Voucher Lawsuit

The Wisconsin Supreme Court this week weighed filings regarding a lawsuit filed by SuperPAC Minocqua Brewery seeking to declare school voucher programs unconstitutional. The Court must decide whether to take the case directly or first have it work its way through lower courts. The plaintiffs want the Court to take it directly, which would mean a ruling could come in months rather than perhaps years if it had to go through the lower courts.

Tier 1 Licensure for Marriage/Family Therapists

Both chambers have passed AB 251 / SB 253, which would make clinically trained marriage and family therapists eligible for Tier 1 Licensure by the DPI as a social worker. Our analysis shows this bill would most likely benefit rural school districts that have difficulty filling pupil services positions, but there are concerns around lowering the standards for licensing.

School Psychologist Loan Program

A Senate committee has held a public hearing on this bill (AB 234 / SB 241), which would create a school psychologist loan program for graduate students pursuing a school psychologist career. Eligible students could receive a loan of up to $10,000 annually for up to three years and 25 percent of the loan would be forgiven for each school year the recipient is employed as a school psychologist in an urbanized county or rural area.

Other Public Hearings Held

Child Labor. An Assembly committee held a public hearing on AB 442 / SB 436, which eliminates requirements to obtain work permits for 14- and 15-year-olds.

Immunization Waivers. A public hearing was held on AB-612, providing waivers from workplace immunization requirements.

Circluating for Co-Sponsorship

Possession of a firearm by a licensee in a place of worship located on the grounds of a private school. This would allow concealed carrying in places of worship on private school grounds. The church could prohibit concealed carry on their grounds (the school), but this legislation allows them to allow guns if they want to, providing the carrier has a permit and no classes are being held. Current law, with exceptions, prohibits a person from possessing a firearm on the grounds of a school.