Saturday, April 21, 2018

2017-18 Legislative Session Recap

Governor Walker held his final bill signing ceremonies of the 2017-18 Legislative Session this week, signing over 90 bills into law.  Now that the session has adjourned, all bills that did not get signed into law are considered dead and will need to be re-introduced next session. We highlighted some of the bills of interest that were signed into law and also those that did not pass this session. 

Signed into Law:

Allowing Public Libraries to Apply for TEACH Grants: Representative Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) and Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) authored Assembly Bill 572/Senate Bill 491, which allows rural public libraries to apply for TEACH grants and to use the WISEData system. Depending on the size of the municipality they serve, a public library could receive a TEACH Information Technology Block grant of between $5,000 and $10,000 and an Educational Technology Training Grant of between $500 and $1,000. Assembly Bill 572 was signed into law as 2017 Wisconsin Act 142.

Prohibiting DOR from Using Third-party Auditors: Representative Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) and Senator Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) authored Assembly Bill 773/Senate Bill 645, which includes a provision that prohibits the Department of Revenue from contracting with third-party auditors on a contingent fee basis to conduct audits for unclaimed property. This bill was amended so that the prohibition only applies to audits of companies or persons domiciled in Wisconsin. BCPL, which administers the Common School Fund, voted to oppose this change because it would hurt school  libraries. Estimates done by the Department of Revenue show that this bill would reduce unclaimed property transfers to the Common School Fund by $2 million per year. Assembly Bill 773 was signed into law as 2017 Wisconsin Act 235.

UW Merit Scholarship Program Funded by the Normal School Fund: Representative Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) and Senator Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) authored Assembly Bill 804/Senate Bill 700, which creates a merit-based scholarship program for the UW System to be funded by the Normal School Fund. It also allows BCPL to sell land belonging to one BCPL trust fund to another BCPL trust fund. Assembly Bill 804 was signed into law as 2017 Wisconsin Act 314.

Failed to Pass:

Eliminating the Requirement to Spend CSF Dollars on School Libraries: Representative Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield) and Senator Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) introduced Assembly Bill 857/Senate Bill 713, which would have ended the requirement that Common School Fund disbursements be spent on school libraries, ended the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program and given the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) more authority to invest BCPL Trust Fund dollars. The Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection held a public hearing on Senate Bill 713 on January 31, 2018, but no further action was taken on this bill this session. However, a Legislative Council Study Committee on the Investment and Use of the School Trust Funds was been formed and will meet during the 2018 interim. WEMTA has requested representation on that Committee, which will begin meeting in June or July, and will keep you updated.

Allowing BCPL to Invest in Real Estate and to  Rent Buildings to the State: Representative Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) and Senator Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) introduced Assembly Bill 303/Senate Bill 692, which would allow BCPL to invest trust fund dollars in real estate for the purposes of leasing the building to state agencies for office space. AB 303 was passed by the State Assembly 84-9 but never acted on by the State Senate.

Restoring the Duties of the State Treasurer: Representative Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) and Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) introduced Assembly Bill 1039/Senate Bill 833, which would restore the duties of the State Treasurer. No action was taken on this bill this session.

Student Data Inventory: Assembly Bill 71 was introduced by the Study Committee on School Data and requires the State Superintendent to create, maintain and post a pupil data inventory on DPI’s website. This data inventory must include every distinct type of pupil data collected by DPI from schools and school districts, a definition of the type of pupil data collected, the purpose for collecting the pupil data, and a citation to the specific provision of state or federal law requiring collection of the data. The list must be updated every time DPI makes changes to the type of data they collect. It was passed by the Assembly but never acted on by the Senate.

Responsibilities of the State Superintendent Related to Privacy and Security of Pupil Data: Assembly Bill 72  was introduced by the Study Committee on School Data and requires the State Superintendent to develop a model data privacy and security plan, which includes certain elements like guidelines for access to pupil data and to the student information system. This bill also requires the State Superintendent to provide guidance and training to school districts on data privacy and the security of pupil data. The Superintendent must work with stakeholders to develop and promote best practices regarding the quality, usefulness, openness, privacy, and security of pupil data. This bill was passed by the Assembly but never acted on by the Senate.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Wisconsin Voters Reject Referendum to Eliminate State Treasurer

Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly rejected a statewide referendum to eliminate the state treasurer on Tuesday, with 62% of Wisconsinites voting against the measure.

State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk, who campaigned heavily to eliminate the office, said the following on Tuesday evening after the vote was called: "This settles the question of whether or not to eliminate the state treasurer's office. I have always said that it was up to the voters and I accept the will of the people, even though I supported the elimination effort."

Adamczyk is currently running for an open State Assembly seat and will not be seeking another term as treasurer. The office is up for re-election in November 2018. There are currentlytwo declared candidates in the treasurer's race--Thomas Hiller, a Republican from Madison, and Sarah Godlewski, a Democrat from Eau Claire.

Representative Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh), one of the authors of the referendum, has previously stated that he would author a bill to restore the treasurer's duties if voters decided to keep the office.

In the only other statewide race of the night, Judge Rebecca Dallet defeated Judge Michael Screnock, 56%-44%, to fill an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

One Week Until Election Day, State Treasurer Referendum!

Election Day in Wisconsin is just one week away!

There are many local races taking place across Wisconsin for school board and local governments, and two statewide issues--the State Supreme Court race and the referendum to eliminate the state treasurer (question 1). 

WEMTA Opposes the Treasurer Referendum 

WEMTA has opposed legislative efforts to eliminate the state treasurer. We believe that replacing the State Treasurer with the Lieutenant Governor on the BCPL jeopardizes our founding fathers’ commitment to maintaining a constitutionally protected form of school library funding.

As envisioned by our founding fathers, current BCPL Commissioners do not play a leading role in K-12 school funding or the state budget process—this makes them ideal custodians of the Common School Fund and helps protect the integrity of the fund. 



See a Sample Ballot

To see what's on your ballot, visit:

Vote Early!

You can vote early until Friday, March 30 in many municipalities. The City of Madison will have limited early voting on Saturday, March 31. To find out your local early voting options, contact your clerk:

Find your polling place

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day (April 3). To find your polling place, go to:

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Assembly Signs off on Unclaimed Property Changes, School Safety Package

The State Assembly was on the floor for an extraordinary session Thursday to take up key pieces of legislation amended by the State Senate.

As part of the extraordinary session, the Assembly concurred in changes made to Assembly Bill 773 by the Senate. AB 773, which limits the Department of Revenue’s ability to conduct third-party audits of the unclaimed property program,  can now be signed into law.

The Assembly also 78-8 to pass a school safety proposal approved by the Senate earlier this week. This bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.  It does the following:

·         Creates an Office of School Safety to be led by an appointee of the Attorney General. The Office is charged with developing model practices for school safety in consultation with the Department of Public Instruction. The Office must also compile blueprints and GIS maps for all schools, and offer training to school staff on school safety.

·         Provides $100 million in state funding to the Department of Justice for school safety grants. Eligible expenditures will include any costs related to complying with the model school safety standards developed by the Office of School Safety, safety-related upgrades to school buildings, and costs associated with providing blueprints to law enforcement.

·         Requires mandatory reporters of child abuse to also report threats related of school violence made by individuals seen in the course of their professional duties. Authorizes health care providers to disclose information to law enforcement if they believe the individual poses a substantial threat. Individuals who intentionally violate the requirement to report could be fined up to $1,000.

·         Requires schools to work with local law enforcement to conduct an on-site safety assessment of each school building or facility before updating their school safety plan.

·         Requires school safety plans to include individualized safety plans for each school building and facility that is regularly occupied by students, and guidelines for addressing school violence and threats of school violence, bomb threats, fire, weather-related emergencies, intruders, parent-student reunification, and threats to non-classroom events.

·         Requires schools to submit a copy of the most recent blueprints of each school building and facility in the district to local law enforcement and the office of school safety.

·         Requires schools to hold annual drills related to school violence in each building regularly occupied by pupils.

·         Requires schools to review and approve their school safety plan at least once every three years and file a copy of their safety plan with the Office of School Safety.

The Assembly also passed two of their own bills related to sharing school safety camera footage with law enforcement, developing a school safety hotline, requiring parents of students involved in a bullying incident to be notified within 48 hours, and background checks for firearms.  However, the Senate would need to meet again in order for these bills to become law and that appears unlikely to happen at this time.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Senate Passes Unclaimed Property Bill; Assembly to Concur on Thursday

The State Senate met for their final regular session floor period of the 2017-18 legislative session on Tuesday. After some deal-making during the day, the Assembly and Senate agreed to meet in extraordinary session on Thursday to take up modified versions of the child tax credit, juvenile corrections and school safety bills that address issues raised by the Senate.

Changes to Unclaimed Property Program: The Senate voted 18-14 to pass Assembly Bill 773, which substantially weakens the Department of Revenue’s (DOR) ability to conduct third-party audits related to unclaimed property. The proceeds from these audits go to the Common School Fund. DOR will no longer be able to contract with third-party auditors to conduct audits of entities located in Wisconsin. This will result in less revenue going into the Common School Fund. This bill was previously passed by the Assembly but the Senate adopted an amendment related to court procedures, so the bill must be concurred in by the Assembly with that change before it can become law . It is included in the Extraordinary session agenda for Thursday.

White Space Technology: The Senate passed Assembly Joint Resolution 100 on a voice vote, which encourages the use of television white space technology to increase access to broadband Internet.

UW Merit Scholarship: The Senate voted 22-10 to pass Assembly Bill 804, which creates a merit scholarship program at UW funded by the Normal School Fund. The bill gives the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands authority to sell lands from any of their trust funds to another of the board’s trust funds for the appraised value of the land. This bill can now be signed into law.

Telecommuter Forward: The Senate passed Assembly Bill 917 on a voice vote, which creates a process for Wisconsin communities to become certified as a Telecommuter Forward! Community. In order to become certified, communities must demonstrate their commitment to promoting the availability of telecommuting options. This bill can now be signed to law.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Special Session School Safety Bills Released

Governor Walker called a special session on school safety and introduced a package of six bills. There is disagreement between the Assembly and Senate about how to approach the issue—the Senate says they will take the bills up in regular session as amendments to already-introduced legislation. The Assembly will meet for one-day in a special session. This creates a complicated situation because bills need to be passed in identical form in order to become law.

The Assembly Education Committee is holding a public hearing Tuesday, March 20 on the special session version of the bills.

School Safety Grants: Special Session Bill 1 provides $100 million in funding to the Department of Justice for the purpose of issuing school safety grants in collaboration with the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).  Public, private and charter schools could apply for grants to fund safety-related school upgrades, hiring armed security officers, and training school staff.

Office of School Safety: Special Session Bill 2 creates an office of school safety within the Department of Justice. The office of school safety would be required to work with DPI to develop model practices for school safety; compile blueprints and GIS maps for all schools; offer trainings to school staff on school safety. The bill requires school boards to provide blueprints  of each school building and facility in the school district to local law enforcement and the office of school safety.

Mandatory Reporting: Special Session Bill 3 requires professionals who must report suspected child abuse and neglect under current law to also report to a law enforcement agency a reasonable
suspicion that a person intends to commit an act of violence involving a dangerous weapon or explosive in or targeting a school. It requires school boards to provide training to school staff on this new reporting requirement.

Model Policy on Bullying: Special Session Bill 4 requires DPI to revise its model policy on bullying to specify that the parent or guardian of a student involved in a bullying incident be notified within 48 hours of the incident being reported.

School Safety Plans: Special Session Bill 5 updates current state law regarding school safety plans.  The bill requires schools to review and approve their safety plans every three years. School safety plans must be submitted to the Department of Justice. Any school that wants to update their safety plan to first work with local law enforcement to conduct an on-site assessment of all buildings and facilities. The bill requires the safety plan to include an individualized plan for each school building and policies and procedures related to specific events like school violence and attacks, threats of school violence and attacks, parent-student reunification, weather-related emergencies, fire, intruders, and threats to non-classroom events.  Schools would be required by the bill to hold annual drills in every building that is regularly occupied by students.

Safety Cam Footage: Special Session Bill 6 allows schools to share safety cam footage with local law enforcement if they determine that sharing the footage with the law enforcement agency serves a legitimate safety interest.