Capitol Update

 February 20, 2015Like us on Facebook

Contents Include:

1.  WCC Items of Interest in State Budget

2.  Registration for Catholics at the Capitol, April 8, 2015

3.  Upcoming Hearings of Interest

4.  New Bills of Interest

5.  Websites of Interest


WCC Items of Interest in State Budget

The WCC is tracking the following proposals in the state budget:


Children and Families


Child survivors of sex trafficking.  The budget would include $2 million in FY 2016-17 funding for programs to expand treatment services to sex-trafficked children, specifically targeting rural areas.


Survivors of domestic violence.  The budget would add $5 million in FY 2016-17 to expand services to survivors of domestic violence and their families.


Youth Aids.  The budget would transfer Youth Aids from the Department of Corrections (DOC) to the Department of Children and Families (DCF).  The transfer of Youth Aids funding to the DCF is expected to provide better coordination with other programs directed to aid troubled youth.


Foster care.  The budget would provide additional funding for the ongoing implementation of expanded eligibility, up to age 21, for out-of-home care support for fostered youth who have individualized education programs (IEP) and are enrolled in school.


Wisconsin Shares.  The budget would increase funding to pay the full costs of a Wisconsin Shares (child care) provider rate increase that went into effect on November 9, 2014.




Parental Choice Program expansion and reform.  The budget would remove the cap on the number of parental choice program (Choice) participants, but would likely reduce funding payments for students new to the statewide and Racine Choice programs.  Access to this program would continue to be limited to students with family incomes of no more than 185 percent of the federal poverty level, but who also:

  • were enrolled in public school in the prior year;
  • were not enrolled in school in the prior year;
  • attended a private school through the statewide or Racine choice programs in the prior year; or
  • are entering kindergarten, first grade, or ninth grade.

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) would withhold from the public school district's aid payment the amount that would be attributable to the Choice pupil.  The DPI would then pool the state aid withheld and equally distribute it back to families as a voucher for the family's use at a participating private school.


School accountability.  The budget would change the school report card by requiring the use of letter grades, as well as weighting school performance to account for student poverty rates, disabilities, and the length of time a school has had to influence a student's academic progress.  The budget would also allow public school districts, charter, and Choice schools to select an alternative to state-approved student assessments, so long as the test has been certified by the Value-Added Research Center at the University of Wisconsin. 


School aid.  In FY 2016, the budget would not provide additional general school aid or a special $75 per year per pupil aid that is provided for under the current budget.  In FY 2017, the per pupil aid amount would be restored and general aid would increase by $104.1 million.  At the same time, the budget would require a school levy tax credit of $105.6 million annually.  Districts would not be allowed to raise local property taxes beyond already established revenue limits. 


Rural school aid.  The budget would provide $4.2 million annually in sparsity aid, which would fully fund the $300 per student statutory reimbursement rate for small districts with at least 20 percent of pupils eligible for free and reduced-price lunches and less than 10 pupils per square mile within the district.  The budget would also increase high-cost pupil transportation aid by $2.5 million annually. 


Charter schools.  The budget would create a Charter School Oversight Board to manage the authorization of local independent charter school authorizers.  The new board would consist of 11 members, including two appointees of the Governor, six appointees of the Legislature, two appointees of the State Superintendent, and the State Superintendent or his or her designee.


Alternate educator licensure.  The budget would create an alternative teacher licensure where bachelor's degree holders would be tested in knowledge and competency to teach relevant subjects.  The renewable three-year license could be used for grades six through twelve.


TEACH expansion.  The budget would expand the Technology for Educational Achievement (TEACH) program, which offers broadband access to public schools and libraries at discounted rates.  The expansion would be funded with up to $25 million of the federal E-rate cash balance.


Service to Vulnerable Populations


Drug testing of public benefits recipients.  The budget would require certain recipients of unemployment insurance benefits through the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), or through the DCF's Transform Milwaukee, transitional jobs, Children First, and Trial Employment Match Program, to submit to a drug test.  Those who test positive would be directed to drug treatment and job training.  These individuals would continue to be eligible for benefits during treatment and training, but subsequent drug test failures would result in a loss of benefits with additional requalification requirements.


The budget would also require drug testing of non-disabled, childless adults receiving FoodShare and/or Medicaid benefits, but this would require the Department of Health Services (DHS) to seek a waiver from the federal government.


Transportation Aid funding.  The budget would increase funding by $438,000 for elderly and disabled aid to local governments and nonprofit organizations to provide transportation services for senior citizens and people with disabilities.  It would also increase funding for Transportation Economic Assistance grants by $2 million annually. 


Crisis service assistance.  The budget would provide funding to assist counties with the creation of crisis service programs.


Workforce and Employment-Related Benefits


Lifetime Wisconsin Works time limitThe budget would reduce the Wisconsin Works (W-2) lifetime time limits from 60 months to 48 months.  Those receiving these benefits often cope with challenging conditions (mental illness, disabilities, etc.) that make it difficult to attract employment.


Expansion of Transitional Jobs Funding and Transform Milwaukee.  The budget would provide an additional $1 million in FY 2016 and $2 million in FY 2017 for the DCF to establish jobs programs similar to the Transitional Jobs Demonstration Project and Transform Milwaukee in Racine and Beloit, as well as in high-need rural areas.  The budget would also maintain funding for the Transform Milwaukee Jobs program at $5 million annually.


FoodShare Employment and Training.  The budget would fully fund the FoodShare Employment and Training program and would fund program reforms that require performance outcomes and competitive bidding for the provision of services.  The budget would also require the state to enforce federal time limits on nutrition assistance benefits for non-disabled, childless adults who are not enrolled in a DHS, DCF, or DWD employment program.




Medicaid.  Most of the proposed increased spending in the budget is attributable to Medical Assistance (also known as MA or Medicaid) funding.  The budget would transfer up to an additional $10 million annually from the University of Wisconsin for Medicaid health maintenance organization (HMO) claims.  However, the budget does not expand Medicaid services by utilizing the more than $200 million in federal funds available to Wisconsin under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


Family Care.  The budget would expand the Family Care program statewide, but also transition the program to an outcome-based model for providing long-term, primary, and acute care services.  The budget provisions would require statewide Managed Care Organizations to meet certain operational efficiencies.


Medicaid childless adults.  The budget would require DHS to seek a federal waiver requesting the authority to impose monthly premiums on non-disabled, childless adult Medicaid recipients.  It would also institute drug and health screenings and a 48 month enrollment limit on these recipients.


BadgerCare waiting period.  The budget would eliminate the three-month waiting period for enrollment in BadgerCare Plus for certain children and pregnant women.


Mental health and substance abuse programs.  The budget would expand Medicaid coverage to include the treatment portion of residential substance abuse treatment.


Mental health funding into community aids.  The budget would consolidate certain mental health funds with community aids and would permit greater flexibility in their use.


Emergency detention.  The budget would require Milwaukee Countytoalign its emergency detention process with that of other counties.  It would also require all counties to provide community-based crisis assessment by a mental health professional prior to an emergency detention, and would dedicate $1.5 million over the biennium for implementation.


Disproportionate share payments.  The budget would continue to provide disproportionate share payments to Wisconsin hospitals that see a high number of Medicaid patients.


ADRC funding and dementia care specialists.  The budget would restructure funding and contracts for aging and disability resource centers (ADRCs) statewide, including added funds for the placement of dementia care specialists in selected ADRCs.


SeniorCare.  The budget would require all eligible SeniorCare participants to enroll in Medicare Part D.


Registration:  Catholics at the Capitol, April 8, 2015

Registration materials, including online registration via PayPal or VISA/Mastercard, are available on our website.


Upcoming Hearings of Interest

(N.B.  Only bills of interest are flagged.  In most cases, committees will be considering other bills as well.)


Assembly Children and Families, 10 am, Wed, Feb. 25, 415-NW

Informational Hearing on:

Department of Children and Families

Deputy Secretary Ron Hunt will provide a general overview of the department and agency staff will present on the four divisions:

  • Division of Management Services
  • Division of Early Care and Education
  • Division of Safety and Permanence
  • Divisions of Family and Economic Security

Testimony will be from invited speakers only.


Assembly Corrections, 10 am, Thu, Feb. 26, 400-NE

Informational Hearing:

Department of Corrections' staff will provide a general overview of the department. 

  • Ed Wall, Secretary
  • Scott Legwold, Assistant Deputy Secretary
  • Cathy Jess, Division of Adult Institutions Administrator
  • Denise Symdon, Division of Community Corrections Administrator
  • Cari Taylor, Division of Juvenile Corrections Administrator
  • Stacey Rolston, Division of Management Services Administrator
  • Silvia Jackson, Reentry Director
  • Tony Streveler, Director of Research and Policy

Testimony will be from invited speakers only.


Assembly Urban and Local Affairs, 10 am, Tue, March 10, 400-NE

Informational Hearing:

The following associations will present their legislative agendas for the 2015-16 session:  Wisconsin Towns Association and Wisconsin Counties Association.


New Bills of Interest

SB-028 Death with Dignity (Risser, Fred (D)) Permitting certain individuals to make requests for medication for the purpose of ending their lives and providing penalties. Referred to Senate Health and Human Services


SB-034 National School Lunch Program (Olsen, Luther (R)) Requiring certain persons to hold certificates of food protection practices in order to operate certain school lunchrooms participating in the National School Lunch Program. Referred to Senate Health and Human Services


SB-035 Handgun Purchases (Wanggaard, Van (R)) Waiting period for handgun purchases. Referred to Senate Judiciary and Public Safety


AB-029 Sleeping in Public (Kessler, Frederick (D)) Limiting the authority of a law enforcement officer to arrest someone for sleeping or camping in a county park, authorizing local ordinances to prohibit overnight sleeping or camping in a county park, and providing a penalty. Referred to Assembly Criminal Justice and Public Safety


AB-032 Prevailing Wage (Hutton, Rob (R)) Elimination of the requirement that laborers, workers, mechanics, and truck drivers employed on the site of a project of public works be paid the prevailing wage. Referred to Assembly Labor


AB-037 National School Lunch Program (Petryk, Warren (R)) Requiring certain persons to hold certificates of food protection practices in order to operate certain school lunchrooms participating in the National School Lunch Program. Referred to Assembly State Affairs and Government Operations


AB-039 Adoptions (Legislative Council) Jurisdiction and venue in adoption proceedings and investigation of suitability of a home for adoption of a child. Referred to Assembly Children and Families


AB-040 Adoption Requirements (Legislative Council) Preadoption preparation requirements and referrals to postadoption resource centers. Referred to Assembly Children and Families


AB-041 Readoption (Legislative Council) Readoption of a child adopted by a resident of this state under an order of a court of a foreign jurisdiction. Referred to Assembly Children and Families


AB-042 Children's Code (Legislative Council) Including a statement as to whether a child has been adopted in a petition for a proceeding under the Children's Code or Juvenile Justice Code, in a petition for guardianship of a minor, in an informal disposition under the Children's Code or the Juvenile Justice Code, or in a voluntary out-of-home care agreement under the Children's Code, and requiring an annual report to the governor and the legislature on children who enter out-of-home care after they have been adopted or placed under a guardianship. Referred to Assembly Children and Families


AB-046 Off-Duty Officers (Kleefisch, Joel (R)) Off-duty law enforcement officers and former law enforcement officers going armed with firearms on or near school grounds. Referred to Assembly State Affairs and Government Operations


AB-049 Handgun Purchases (Quinn, Romaine (R)) Waiting period for handgun purchases. Referred to Assembly Criminal Justice and Public Safety


AB-051 Family Treatment Court (Legislative Council) Creating family treatment court and juvenile treatment court grant programs in the department of children and families and making an appropriation. Referred to Assembly Corrections


AB-052 Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (Legislative Council) Creating the criminal justice coordinating council, providing grants to certain county or tribal criminal justice projects, home detention for probation, and making appropriations. Referred to Assembly Corrections

Websites of Interest

2015-16 Session Schedule 

Senate Directory 

Assembly Directory 

Senate Committees 

Assembly Committees 

Weekly Schedule of Committee Activities 

Who Are My Legislators or type your address in the top right hand corner of the Legislature's Home Page: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/ 

Wisconsin Eye - Independent, nonpartisan video coverage of state government proceedings.

Capitol Update is a periodic e-mail on legislative issues from the Wisconsin Catholic Conference.


Wisconsin Catholic Conference

131 W. Wilson St., Suite 1105

Madison, WI 53703



[email protected]