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.