Legislative Update – December 6

Commission on School Funding: The leaders of the Wisconsin State Legislature on Wednesday announced creation of a Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding that does not include any classroom educators.

“As educators, we are a steady voice for a solution to Wisconsin’s broken school funding system,” said WEAC President Ron Martin. “It’s alarming that no classroom educators are included on the Commission because teachers and support staff know firsthand how the inadequate and inequitable funding impacts learning every day.

“It’s time for Wisconsin leaders to move from promises to action when it comes to living up to their responsibilities to our students, and that starts with including educators’ voices in the mix.”

While the concept of the Commission was floated earlier in the Legislative session, membership was just named. Leaders of the commission are Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) and Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon). The commission will examine how tax dollars are distributed to schools and make recommendations to better meet the needs of students across Wisconsin. Read the GOP leadership’s news release

Senator Stroebel appointed to Joint Finance Committee. Senator Duey Stroebel is the newest member of the Joint Finance Committee. Stroebel, of Saukville, replaces Sheila Harsdorf, who is the new secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. He also was one of three Republicans who issued a series of veto demands to Governor Scott Walker before agreeing to support final passage of the budget. Stroebel is also a key author of AB324/SB190 (currently in committee), which increases the minimum age requirement under WRS and changes the way earnings are calculated. Stroebel will serve the remainder of the 2017-18 term.

Child Labor Permits. Senate and Assembly committees are recommending passage of a bill (SB-420 / AB-504) to allow a minor to be employed without a child labor permit by a family business.

Literacy Grants. An Assembly committee is recommending passage of AB 541 (companion bill SB 449). This bill requires the Department of Health Services to distribute grants to the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin to support the early literacy program known as Reach Out and Read Wisconsin. The bill would provide $200,000 in 2018 and $300,000 in 2019.

County jailers and the WRS. A fiscal estimate was received for AB 676 (companion bill SB 577), which would classify county jailers as protective occupation participants under the Wisconsin Retirement System and under the Municipal Employment Relations Act. While the bill would likely not have a cost impact on the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, there is insufficient knowledge as to whether this bill would increase or decrease county costs.