Assembly Holds Its Final Floor Session, Senate to Meet on April 1
The State Assembly met on March 20 for the final time in 2014. The State Senate will meet once more, on April 1, to conclude its work for the session. Barring a special session or a decision to reconvene in a "veto review" session, the two houses will not meet again until the new Legislature convenes in January.
Assembly Passes Two School Accountability Bills
On a voice vote, the Assembly passed Senate Bill 584 (Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa), which would impose requirements upon new private schools or certain small private schools (with 40 or fewer students in two or fewer grades) seeking to participate in the parental choice programs (PCPs). Among other things, the bill defines what constitutes the "governing board" of a private school and requires that participating schools annually provide evidence of accreditation. The WCC did not provide testimony on the bill, but has supported past efforts to improve fiscal accountability for schools participating in PCPs.
Also on a voice vote, the Assembly passed Senate Bill 286 (Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon). Originally, SB 286 would have instituted a wealth of changes to the state's current school accountability system (SIS). The bill was amended to instead require independent charter schools and private schools participating in PCPs to use a student information system by the 2015-16 school year. Current law already requires the Department of Public Instruction to include a PCP or independent charter school in the annual school accountability report one year after the school begins using an SIS. The WCC offered testimony for information on the original version of SB 286.
Both SB 286 and SB 584 now await the Governor's action.
Senate and Assembly Pass Foster Care Expansion
Both houses this week passed Senate Bill 451 (Sen. Terry Moulton, R-Chippewa Falls), which would extend foster care to 21 years of age for children with individualized education programs. The WCC supports the bill, which now awaits the Governor's action.
Senate Passes Treatment Alternative and Diversion (TAD) Grants
The Senate unanimously passed Assembly Bill 668 (Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette), which would provide grants to counties that offer substance abuse treatment to offenders and diversion from incarceration. The WCC supports the bill, which now awaits the Governor's action.
Senate Passes Human Trafficking Bill
On a voice vote, the Senate passed Assembly Bill 620 (Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton), which would further protect victims of human trafficking and aid in prosecuting perpetrators. The WCC provided testimony in support of the bill, which now awaits the Governor's action.
New Bills of Interest
SJR-85. (Grothman) The persecution of Christians on a worldwide scale. To Senate Organization.
SB-676. Wisconsin Works (Grothman) Education and training under Wisconsin Works; reducing Wisconsin Works benefits; a minimum copayment, maximum child care hours, and reducing income based on marriage for eligibility under Wisconsin Shares; changes to the food stamp program relating to financial eligibility for benefits, allowing an election to reduce benefits, recouping unused benefits, and prohibiting supplier discounts; prohibiting advertising concerning means-tested public assistance on radio or television; requiring consideration of the income and assets of all individuals in a household for purposes of eligibility for any means-tested public assistance; eligibility requirements for persons or families of low and moderate income to receive certain housing, housing assistance, grants, loans, or benefits from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, the Department of Administration, and local housing authorities; reducing the authority of local housing authorities; eligibility requirement for purposes of receiving low-income energy assistance; prohibiting new claims under the earned income tax credit; limiting eligibility for the homestead tax credit; elimination of certain grant programs administered by the Higher Educational Aids Board and transfer of the unencumbered balances in the appropriations for those programs to the University of Wisconsin System for the purpose of tuition reduction; consideration of the income and assets of both parents of a student under 22 years of age for purposes of awarding a grant or scholarship to such a student and the permissible uses of grant or scholarship moneys awarded; income eligibility requirements for enrollment in a private school participating in a parental choice program; the school lunch program. To Health and Human Services.
AJR-111. (Taylor) The rights of pregnant women. To Rules.
AB-860. Unborn Child Protection (Taylor) Legal representation for an adult expectant mother of an unborn child who is alleged to be in need of protection or services. To Judiciary.
AB-861. Advance Directives (Berceau) Effect of advance directives and powers of attorney for health care during pregnancy. To Health.
AB-864. Payday Loan (Hintz) The definition of payday loan. To Consumer Protection.
AB-869. Voter Registration (Genrich) Voter registration; proof of residence for registration and voting purposes; review of certain expenditures of the Government Accountability Board by the Joint Committee on Finance. To Campaigns and Elections.
AB-875. 4-Year Old Kindergarten (Taylor) Four-year-old kindergarten. To Education.