Thursday, May 3, 2018

BCPL Commissioner Candidates--Attorney General

All of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) Commissioners--the Attorney General, State Treasurer and the Secretary of State-- are up for election in November 2018. BCPL Commissioners oversee the Common School Fund, so these races are very important and will have an impact on school library funding. 

Candidates are currently circulating nomination papers to get on the ballot. Nomination papers are due by June 1. A primary is required for the state treasurer and secretary of state races and will be held August 14. The General Election will be held on November 6. 


Attorney General

Brad Schimel (Incumbent, R-Waukesha)

Attorney General Schimel currently serves as the chair of the BCPL. He has been a BCPL Commissioner since first being elected in 2014.

Campaign Website: https://bradschimel.com/



Josh Kaul (D-Madison)

Kaul is a Madison-based attorney. He is the son of former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager.

Campaign Website: https://www.joshkaul.org/



Monday, April 30, 2018

BCPL Commissioner Candidates--State Treasurer

All of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) Commissioners--the Attorney General, State Treasurer and the Secretary of State-- are up for election in November 2018. BCPL Commissioners oversee the Common School Fund, so these races are very important and will have an impact on school library funding. 

State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk is not seeking re-election and is instead running for an Assembly seat, so the race for state treasurer is wide open and has a crowded field of candidates.  A major issue in this race is what role the state treasurer should play in state government now that  voters have decided to keep the office.  

Candidates are currently circulating nomination papers to get on the ballot. Nomination papers are due by June 1. A primary is required for the state treasurer race and it will be held August 14. The General Election will be held on November 6. 


State Treasurer Candidates 

Republicans


Travis Hartwig (R-Oak Creek)

Hartwig is a Mutual Fund Administrator at U.S. Bank Fund Services in Milwaukee. Hartwig says he is "committed to reforming and recreating the Treasurer’s office." 

Campaign Website: http://travishartwig.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hartwigforwisconsin/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/hartwigforwi



Jill Millies (R-Big Bend) 

Millies' LinkedIn profile describes her as a florist. She does not appear to have an official campaign website or social media at this time. 


Democrats 

Paul Boucher (D-Green Bay) 

Boucher ran for Green Bay school board in the spring 2018 election. He described himself at that time as semi-retired and working in Washington D.C. at Georgetown University. He does not appear to have an official campaign website or social media at this time. 


Sarah Godlewski (D-Madison)

Godlewski is the co-founder of MaSa Partners, a social impact investment firm. She said in a recent Q&A with the Capital Times that she is interested in "economic empowerment" initiatives and supports restoring the offices original duties. 

Campaign Website: https://www.sarahforwisconsin.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SarahforWI

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahforWI 



Cynthia Kaump (D-Madison)

Kaump previously worked as a spokesperson for former State Treasurer Kurt Schuller. She says on her campaign website that she wants to "restore, modernize and move forward" the office of state treasurer. 

Campaign Website: https://www.kaumpforstatetreasurer.com/

Facebook: 
https://www.facebook.com/CynthiaKaumpforStateTreasurer/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CynthiaKaump



Dawn Marie Sass (D-Belleville)

Sass previously served as state treasurer from 2007 to 2011. Sass was defeated by Kurt Schuller in the 2010 election. 

Campaign Website: http://sassforstatetreasurer.org (has not been updated since 2010 campaign) 

Facebook: N/A


Twitter: N/A



Jake Tulogeski (D-Waukesha) 

Tulogeski does not appear to have a campaign website or social media at this time. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

BCPL Commissioners Are Up for Re-Election--Secretary of State Candidates

All of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) Commissioners--the Attorney General, State Treasurer and the Secretary of State-- are up for election in November 2018. BCPL Commissioners oversee the Common School Fund, so these races are very important and will have an impact on school library funding. 

State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk is not seeking re-election and is instead running for an Assembly seat, so the race for state treasurer is wide open and has a crowded field of candidates. Both Attorney General Brad Schimel and Secretary of State Doug La Follette are running for re-election and face challengers. 

Candidates are currently circulating nomination papers to get on the ballot. Nomination papers are due by June 1. If a primary is required for any of the races, it will be held August 14. The General Election will be held on November 6. 

We will be featuring the different races over the next week. Today we're taking a look at Secretary of State. 

Secretary of State Candidates (Updated April 30,2018)

Doug La Follette (Incumbent, D-Madison)

Doug La Follette has been Secretary of State, and a BCPL Commissioner, since 1983. If re-elected, this will be his 11th term. 

Campaign Website: http://douglafollette.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sosdoug

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DougLaFollette 


Arvina Martin (D-Madison)

Martin is currently a Madison alder. She does not appear to have a formal campaign website at this time. 

Campaign Website: N/A

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/arvinaforwi/ 


Jay Schroeder (R-Neenah)

In a press release announcing his campaign, Mr. Schroeder said he hopes to abolish the Office of Secretary of State. He is a licensed mortgage loan officer. 

Campaign Website: http://schroederforwi.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jay-Schroeder-167069927265521/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Schroederforwi

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. 

WEMTA FACT SHEET 

WEMTA SAMPLE LETTER TO THE EDITOR




See a Sample Ballot

To see what's on your ballot, visit: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/PreviewMyBallot

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: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/MyMunicipalClerk

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: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/FindMyPollingPlace

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.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Urgent: Let Your State Senator Know that Unclaimed Property Changes Hurt the Common School Fund!

Contact your state Senator and ask them to remove changes to the unclaimed property program from Assembly Bill 773/Senate Bill 645. As drafted, these bills substantially weaken 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.

The Senate plans to vote on this bill on March 20. 

The Assembly adopted an amendment to AB 773 and while it improves the bill it does not fix the issue. Even with the Assembly’s amendment:

·       DOR could not contract with anyone on a contingent fee basis to audit entities domiciled in the State of Wisconsin. This would lead to lost revenue.

·       Without adequate enforcement options, DOR would not be able to effectively do its job as the Administrator of the Unclaimed Property Program. Less money would be identified and returned to rightful owners and less money would go to the common school fund.

·       There are no examples of Wisconsin companies being subjected to unfair audits by a third-party auditor hired by DOR on a contingent fee basis.

Contact your State Senator and ask them to remove the unclaimed property changes from AB 773/SB 645 because they would hurt the Common School Fund. Let them know that BCPL, which administers the Common School Fund, voted to oppose this change because it would hurt school  libraries. Find out who represents you here: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/ (click on “Who Are My Legislators?”)

Monday, March 5, 2018

April 3 Constitutional Referendum to Eliminate the State Treasurer

A statewide referendum on whether or not Wisconsin should amend its Constitution to eliminate the Office of the State Treasurer will be on your ballot April 3. If passed, Wisconsin would be the only state in the nation without a financial officer. 

Currently, the state treasurer sits on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) and oversees the Common School Fund. The office is independently elected by Wisconsin voters.



If the treasurer is eliminated, the lieutenant governor will become a member of the BCPL. 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.  

WEMTA opposes this referendum and is asking people to VOTE NO because:


  • If passed, Wisconsin would be the only state in the nation without a financial officer.
  • Eliminating this constitutional office jeopardizes checks and balances within state government by transferring more power to the executive branch. 
  • We need more oversight of taxpayer dollars--not less! 
  • Wisconsin needs a dedicated and independently elected state treasurer to fight waste, fraud and abuse in state government. 
  • Public funds have been put at risk as a result of transferring the treasurer’s duties to state agencies.
    •  In 2016, the Legislative Audit Bureau found that the Department of Administration did not keep adequate cash records for the Employee Trust Fund. 
    • The 2016 Annual Financial Report did not contain accurate numbers. 
    • The Unclaimed Property Program is less effective—resulting in lost revenue for the Common School Fund. 
Vote NO on April 3. 

To see a sample ballot: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/

Find your polling place: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/FindMyPollingPlace

Feel free to share WEMTA's fact sheet. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Status Update on Senate Bill 713/Assembly Bill 857

Thank you to everyone who took action to oppose Senate Bill 713/Assembly Bill 857, which eliminates the requirement that Common School Fund dollars go to school libraries and ends the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program. As a result of your advocacy, no action has been taken on this bill since the public hearing was held on January 31.

The 2017-18 legislative session is quickly coming to a close, and if SB713/AB857 does not pass before the legislature adjourns, it will be considered dead. The final floor day is March 22, but the State Assembly is expected to adjourn at the end of the week and the Senate will meet only once in March. 

As you know, the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection held a public hearing on January 31 on Senate Bill 713. That Committee never scheduled a vote on the bill. 

The Assembly companion bill, Assembly Bill 857, is before the Assembly Committee on State Affairs. That Committee has not taken any action on the bill. 

Representative Hutton (R-Brookfield) did release an amendment to the Assembly Bill, but no action has been taken on that amendment. It is important to note that the amendment does not resolve all of WEMTA's issues with the bill, so it would not change our position on the bill if it were adopted.  Even with the amendment, the bill would still:


  • Rename the School Library Aids appropriation the School Aids appropriation
  • Eliminate the requirement that computers and software purchased with CSF dollars be housed in the school library. However, the amendment does keep the current law requirement that CSF dollars be given to school libraries 
  • Eliminate the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program
  • Set the stage to transfer BCPL Trust Fund investments over to SWIB. 

  • We will know more about the status of this bill by the end of this week, and will update you at that time. 



    Monday, February 19, 2018

    Act Now: Bill Would Cut Common School Fund By $2 million


    The Assembly Committee on Judiciary is voting at 5 p.m. tomorrow night on Assembly Bill 773 which would eliminate the Department of Revenue’s (DOR) ability to conduct third-party audits related to unclaimed property. Proceeds from unclaimed property go into the Common School Fund, and DOR says this bill would result in $1.7 million less going to the Common School Fund in 2018. 

    Contact your state representative and ask them to remove the unclaimed property changes from AB 773 because they would hurt the Common School Fund. Let them know that BCPL, which administers the Common School Fund, voted to oppose this change because it would hurt school  libraries. Find out who represents you here: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/ (click on “Who Are My Legislators?”)

    Wednesday, February 7, 2018

    BCPL Votes 2-1 to Oppose SB 713


    The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) met Tuesday afternoon and formally voted 2-1 to oppose Senate Bill 713/Assembly Bill 857. State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk voted against the motion to oppose the bill.

    During discussion on the bill and motion to oppose, BCPL Chair Attorney General Brad Schimel said that he did not think the bill was a good idea and that, from his understanding of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau analysis, SWIB would not be able to do any better than BCPL.

    “I would not want us, our Commission, to be characterized as acquiescing…as thinking that this doesn’t…that this is harmless,” said Schimel.  

    “These pieces of legislation are a disaster. They basically destroy—and I want this on the record—they would destroy the School Trust Fund program, which has operated for over 100 and some years very effectively,” said Secretary of State Doug La Follette.

    Adamczyk said that he didn’t think the bill would pass this session, but that he supports the concept. He again argued that SWIB would do a much better job of managing the trust fund dollars.

    The Board also voted 2-0 (with State Treasurer Adamczyk abstaining) to oppose a provision in Assembly Bill 773 and Senate Bill 645 that would prohibit the Department of Revenue from conducting third-party contingency fee audits of the unclaimed property program. The Department of Revenue (DOR) has issued a fiscal estimate on this bill, which indicates that if passed, it would reduce unclaimed property transfers to the Common School Fund by $1.7 million in fiscal year 2018.

    The Board voted to narrowly oppose the specific provision of the bill related to unclaimed property.

    BCPL Executive Secretary Jonathan Barry said that it “would be unfortunate if this provision were adopted.”

    “If this passes, either the way it’s originally proposed or as amended, it’s going to leave a lot of money on the table that doesn’t go to the trust fund,” said Schimel.

    You can listen to the full debate here.

    Monday, February 5, 2018

    Recap of Public Hearing on Senate Bill 713


    The Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection held a public hearing last week on Senate Bill 713, which would eliminate the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program and the requirement that Common School Fund dollars be spent on school library funding. It also gives the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) more authority to invest BCPL trust fund dollars. 

    The bill authors, Senator Stroebel and Representative Hutton, both testified in support of the bill. State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk was the only other person to formally speak in favor of the bill. 

    Senator Stroebel, Representative Hutton and State Treasurer Adamczyk all said they support the bill because SWIB would be able to make even more money for the trust fund accounts than BCPL—they specifically argued that SWIB could double the money.  In regard to the elimination of the Common School Fund language about school libraries, the supporters argued that the bill gives schools local control and flexibility. They said that it is disappointing that the school community does not support this legislation and said it is “disingenuous” for schools to object to taking on more local control after asking for it for so long. 

    State Treasurer Adamczyk said that they aren’t going to eliminate school libraries. However, he did acknowledge that moving money over to SWIB would lead to years where the funds won't make any money and years where they would make a lot more. He also voiced his support for taking library funding out of BCPL and just having the legislature fund it separately.

    Senator Kapenga (R-Pewaukee) expressed his support for the legislation. Senator Wirch (D-Somers) said that people need to keep in mind that the stock market may be doing well now but that that is not always the case. 

    Jonathan Barry, the executive secretary of the BCPL, testified for information only but he responded to several assertions being made, including that if SWIB had invested BCPL trust fund money the same way they manage the Wisconsin Retirement System funds, significantly more money would have gone to public schools. Barry said it is "not a fair analogy" because"SWIB would be subject to the same constitutional limitations as BCPL and therefore would not likely produce any better investment returns" if they managed the funds for real. 

    "If SWIB has a down year, it reaches into principal and the retirees still get paid. If BCPL were to have a down year, there would be no money available for school library books, computers and software in most of the school districts throughout Wisconsin," said Barry. 

    The Wisconsin Towns Association testified against the bill as did several town officials from across Wisconsin. They spoke about the importance of the BCPL trust fund loan program and how banks often won’t agree to the types of terms towns need—like longer loan periods. They said many of their local infrastructure projects would not have been possible without the BCPL loan program.

    The following WEMTA members spoke at the hearing: Mandy Meloy, Kay Benning, Jeannine Ramesy, Lawrence Gillick, and Laura Marusinec. Renee Deschard submitted written testimony. 

    Next steps:  the Committee will need to take a vote on the bill. It is not clear when this will happen. The Assembly Committee on State Affairs has the Assembly Companion Bill (AB 857) and would also need to hold a hearing at some point for this bill to pass. 

    There are currently 18 organizations registered in opposition to the bill.








    Monday, January 29, 2018

    WEMTA Alert: Public Hearing this WEDNESDAY on Common School Fund Bill!

    A public hearing on Senate Bill 713 has been scheduled by the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection for this Wednesday, January 31 starting at 9:30 a.m. in room 201 Southeast of the State Capitol. Senator Stroebel, the chair of the committee, is also the lead author of SB 713, along with the Vice-chair of the committee, Senator David Craig (R-Big Bend).


    We know this is short notice, but it is very important to have a good turnout in opposition to this bill, which would end the requirement for Common School Fund dollars to be used for school libraries. It would also end the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands Trust Fund Loan program, which supports schools, public libraries, technical colleges and local governments.

    If you can make it to the public hearing, please let a member of WEMTA’s legislative committee know by emailing legislative@wemta.org. We will be on hand the day of the public hearing and can help you with logistics. If you are unable to present testimony at the hearing you can just stop by and fill out a hearing slip and register in opposition and leave. It only takes a few minutes!

    If you can’t make the public hearing, you can still submit written comments to the members of the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection.

    When drafting your testimony, please:

    1.   Include your name and contact information
    2.   Address it to the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection and Cc your own State Senator if they are not a member of the Committee.
    3.   Clearly state your ask—i.e. Please oppose Senate Bill 713
    4.   If you are attending in person, please bring copies of your written testimony (7-10 copies)

    Here are some talking points you can use:

    ·                     Common School Fund stakeholders want to maintain the current structure that has been working well since the founding of our State.

    ·                     Over the past 10 years, the BCPL State Trust Fund Loan program has invested over $1 billion in communities throughout Wisconsin. Earnings from these loans are deposited into the Common School Fund. Ending the BCPL loan program would eliminate this important economic development funding from our communities and eliminate a major source of revenue for the Common School Fund. 


    ·                     With school districts across the state facing increased budget constraints, distributions from the Common School Fund are often the only dollars available for school libraries to purchase informational materials including books, newspapers and periodicals, web-based resources, and computer hardware and software. This bill would remove the requirement that the Common School Fund be used for libraries, thus ending the only dedicated source of school library funding in Wisconsin. 

    ·                     The bill also gives the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) more authority to invest BCPL trust fund dollars. According to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, if SWIB had been managing the Common School Fund dollars in the same way they manage their other investments during the financial crash of 2008, the Common School Fund would have suffered a devastating loss of between $195 million and $290 million. No funding would have been available for school libraries for several years following a loss of that magnitude. 

    ·        It is also important to note that while proponents say that SWIB would be able to get higher returns, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau says that it is unlikely that SWIB would be able to do any better than BCPL because they would need to adhere to the constitutional and statutory requirements of the trust fund. The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau issued a memo that stated “under the constraints of the trust funds, it would be reasonable to assume that SWIB would not take on significantly more risk than BCPL, if any, in investment of the funds.” According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, SWIB would “be required to manage the trust funds prudently, and be subject to the same constitutional and statutory constraints as the BCPL.”


    How to Contact Your Legislators:

    The first step in contacting your legislator is knowing who your legislator is. The easiest way to do this is the tool found on the Legislature’s home page, at http://legis.wisconsin.gov. In the right-hand side of that page is a link that says Find My Legislators!  Type your address in the box below that link to get the names of your state representative and senator.
    ·                     Phone.  You may leave a message for your legislator’s Capitol office or indicate your position on legislation through the toll free Legislative Hotline, at 1-800-362-9472.
    ·                     Email. The email addresses of members of the Wisconsin Legislature all have the same format. For members of the Assembly, the form is Rep.Jones@legis.wisconsin.gov; for members of the Senate, the form is Sen.Adams@legis.wisconsin.gov