Thursday, September 26, 2013

WEMTA Alert: Public Hearing Scheduled on Bill to Eliminate Constitutional Officers

The Assembly Committee on State Affairs has scheduled a public hearing for AJR-48 on Thursday, October 3.  AJR-48 is a constitutional amendment to eliminate the positions of secretary of state and state treasurer, both of whom serve on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands which administers the Common School Fund.
The amendment would replace the secretary of state and state treasurer with the lieutenant governor and state superintendent on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands. 

Three of the Committee's members--Representatives Kuglitsch, August and Knodl-- are co-sponsors of the amendment.

This is the first legislative action to be taken on AJR-48 this session. Since it is a constitutional amendment, AJR-48 will need to be passed by both house of the legislature this session and then again during the 2015-16 session, followed by a statewide referendum. 

Assembly State Affairs, 10 am, Thu, Oct. 3, 300-NE

Hearing on:

AJR-48. (Schraa) Deleting from the constitution the offices of secretary of state and state treasurer. (First Consideration) 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Rural Schools Task Force Created

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) announced the creation of a Rural Schools Task Force, recommended by the 2013-15 state budget, on Friday.

The task force will be chaired by Representative Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander), and Representative Fred Clark (D-Baraboo) will serve as vice-chair.

Representative Swearingen announced that the first meeting will be held this month in Rhinelander, though he did not specify an exact date.  

The Speaker has charged the task force with studying the following areas:

• Creating partnerships among school districts
• Exploring new avenues to share innovations, efficiencies and best-practices
• Addressing future transportation needs
• Mapping out strategies for long-term financial stability
• Developing tactics for handling declining enrollment
Maximizing opportunities to incorporate advanced technology

As enacted by the 2013-15 state budget, the task force should submit a report on these topics to the Joint Legislative Council by April 1, 2014. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Ask the FCC to raise the E-Rate funding cap!

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is accepting comments on a proposed rule (13-184) to modernize the E-Rate program, which provides schools and public libraries with discounts for telecommunication services and Internet access, between now and September 16!

Improving high-speed internet access for schools and libraries by 2018 is one of President Obama's second-term goals, and updating E-Rate will be crucial to its success. According to the FCC's rulemaking request, the E-rate program is vital for the "operation of modern schools and libraries." And it lays out the following goals for modernizing the program:

(1) Ensuring schools and libraries have affordable access to 21st Century broadband that supports digital learning;
(2) Maximizing the cost-effectiveness of E-rate funds; and
(3) Streamlining the administration of the E-rate program.
The FCC would like comments on how to best achieve these goals and how to best measure the success of each goal.

One of the FCC's proposals is to focus E-rate funds on supporting broadband to and within schools and libraries; they ask for comments on how to support connectivity within schools and libraries, which services to phase out (such as voice and paging services) in order to maximize funding on broadband and input on modifying the discount matrix. The FCC also seeks comment on "the percent of schools and libraries that do not have the necessary equipment to provide high-capacity broadband connectivity within schools, and the amount it would cost to provide high-capacity broadband connectivity within such schools and libraries."

Detailed objectives for achieving the three stated goals can be found beginning on page 18 (goal one), 48 (goal two) and 59 (goal three) of  this document. 

Ask the FCC to raise the E-Rate funding cap so that schools and libraries can meet their bandwidth needs. The Ed Tech Action Network has an excellent draft comment example for anyone interested in submitting comments.

To submit your comments, click here and identify 13-184 as the proceeding number in the first box.