Monday, December 21, 2015

New Bill Would Allow Public Libraries to Refer Delinquent Accounts to Collections, Law Enforcement

Senator Harsdorf (R-River Falls) introduced Senate Bill 466 on December 18, which allows a public library to provide a collections agency or law enforcement agency with  information about patrons who have delinquent accounts. Under the bill, a delinquent account must total $50 before it can be referred to law enforcement. 

SB 466 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Elections and Local Government. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

New Education Law Signed; What's Next?

Yesterday, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a bipartisan bill to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and replace the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Now that ESSA is law, when does it go into effect? And what happens with NCLB and NCLB waivers?

Additionally, the Alliance for Excellent Education has created a series of special Federal Flash videos that provide concise but comprehensive analyses of several key areas within the Every Student Succeeds Act. These special editions of Federal Flash are available “on demand” so feel free to binge, Netflix style! If you prefer to learn via print rather than video, the Alliance has also created one-page fact sheets in each of the key areas, as well as a side-by-side chart comparing accountability provisions in NCLB, NCLB waivers, and ESSA.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Update on 2015-16 Legislative Session

The clock is winding down on the 2015-16 Legislative session. After finishing up the Fall Floor Period in November, the Legislature is taking a brief break for the holidays before reconvening in January 2016 to finish up their work for the session. The Senate and Assembly are scheduled to adjourn for the 2015-16 Legislative Session in April, but many sources indicate that they may adjourn sooner than expected.

Pending legislation must be passed and signed into law before the legislature officially adjourns, otherwise it is considered “dead” and  must be re-introduced in the 2017-18 session.

As we enter the final stretch of the 2015-16 session, here are where are number of bills WEMTA has been monitoring stand:

State Treasurer Resolution

The State Assembly voted 63-33 in October to approve AJR 5. Authored by Representative Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh), the resolution would delete the office of the State Treasurer from the state constitution. The lieutenant governor would replace the treasurer on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

AJR5/SJR4 was passed, 3-2, by the Senate Committee on Labor and Government Reform in September, but has yet to be voted on by the full senate.

All that is needed for AJR5/SJR4 to pass the Legislature this session is for the full Senate to vote on the proposal. Since the resolution amends the state constitution, the full Legislature must AJR5/SJR4 this session and then pass an identical resolution next session. Once the proposal has been approved by the Legislature a second time, it will be voted on in a statewide referendum.  

Limiting School Referendums

Senator Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) and Representative Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh) introduced legislation at the end of October that would prohibit a school district from holding a referendum for two years following a failed referendum.

The proposal applies to loans and bonds, revenue limit adjustments, state trust fund loans issued by BCPL, temporary borrowing, and promissory notes. School districts that experience a natural disaster would be exempt from the ban for six months following the disaster.
In addition, the proposal would only allow a school district to schedule a referendum on the April spring election day or the November general election day.
Senate Bill 355 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Elections and Local Government. Assembly Bill 481 has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Education.

BCPL Land Bank Authority

Representatives Joe Sanfelippo (R-West Allis) and David Craig (R-Big Bend) introduced Assembly Bill 71 earlier this session, which would eliminate the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands’ authority to purchase land. Although this may not directly impact the Common School Fund, it affects other funds that the BCPL manages. AB 71 has been referred to Committee on Mining and Rural Development.

State Superintendent Resolution

In November, Representative Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin) introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 84, which makes the State Superintendent a political appointee instead of an elected official.
Under AJR 84, the governor would nominate a state superintendent and the state senate would approve the appointment.
AJR 84 has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Education.

As AJR 84 is a constitutional amendment, it must be passed by both houses of the legislature in two consecutive legislative sessions and then approved by voters in a statewide referendum.