Governor Signs Two WASB-Backed Education Bills

In a State Capitol bill signing ceremony, Governor Scott Walker signed a raft of bills into law yesterday, including two education bills the WASB supported.

Assembly Bill 664, authored by Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) and Sen. Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), prohibits the Department of Health Services (DHS) from requiring a mental health clinic or a licensed treatment professional to designate a school site as a clinic office in order to provide outpatient mental health services at the school. It also requires DHS to provide Medical Assistance reimbursement to licensed treatment professionals for mental health services provided at a school, to the extent federal law allows such reimbursement, regardless of whether the school site is designated as a clinic office and regardless of whether the licensed treatment professional is employed by, a contractor of, or affiliated with a clinic. State Rep. Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc) also played a key role in developing this legislation. It is Act 294.

Assembly Bill 824, (pictured above) authored by Rep. Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz)  and Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst), adjusts sparsity aid eligibility to allow the Crivitz and Spring Valley school districts to continue to receive sparsity aid payments this year, without reducing sparsity aid payments to any other qualifying district.  This new law also permanently raises the current 725 pupil cap on school district membership for sparsity aid eligibility to 745 pupils, beginning in the 2016-17 school year. This legislation was also co-authored by Rep. Warren Petryk (R-Eleva) and Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma). It is Act 305.

The governor also signed at least five other bills that will or will likely have an impact on schools, including:

Assembly Bill 341, authored by Rep. Ed Brooks (R-Reedsburg) and Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green), creates the crime of making terrorist threats. Under this new law, it is a Class I felony for a person to threaten to cause the death of or bodily harm to any person or to damage any person’s property under any of the following circumstances:

  • The actor intends to prevent the occupation of or cause the evacuation of a building, dwelling, school premises, vehicle, facility of public transportation, or place of public assembly or any room within a building, dwelling, or school premises.
  • The actor intends to cause  public inconvenience.
  • The actor intends to cause  public panic or fear.
  • The actor intends to cause an interruption or impairment of governmental operations or public communication, of transportation, or of a supply of water, gas, or other public service.
  • The actor creates an unreasonable and substantial risk of causing a result of one of the harms listed in the bullet points above, and is aware of that risk.

Under this new law, any person who makes a terrorist threat that contributes to any individual’s death is guilty of a Class G felony. This new law is Act 311.

Assembly Bill 566, authored by Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem), increases the penalties for certain criminal invasions of privacy from misdemeanors to felonies, particularly if the victim is under the age of 18 when the violation occurs. Described as “locker room privacy” legislation, this new law primarily addresses offenses in which the perpetrator intentionally captures representations of nude or partially nude persons in private places, in locker rooms or under circumstances in which the victim has a reasonable expectation of privacy. It also increases penalties for offenses in which the perpetrator not only captures the representations but possesses, exhibits, displays or transmits the representations.  This new law is Act 320.

Assembly Bill 602, authored by Rep. Terry Katsma (R-Oostburg), adds Christian Schools International and Association of Christian Schools International to the list of accrediting agencies that can qualify a private school to participate in Wisconsin’s three voucher programs or the new special needs voucher program. Current law requires private schools to obtain accreditation to qualify to participate in these programs. This is Act 297.

Assembly Bill 722, authored by Rep. Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee), requires each school that maintains a website and for which the DPI has published a school report card to prominently display a link to the school’s most recent report card on the school’s Internet site within 30 days after DPI publishes the report card. It was signed into law as Act 338.

Assembly Bill 843, authored by Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville) and Sen. Rick Gudex (R-Fond du Lac), was signed into law as  Act 317.  This new law requires counties, school districts, and other taxing jurisdictions to contribute a share of any property tax refunds a municipality is required to pay taxpayers who are over-assessed, as determined by the state Department of Revenue. A school district’s revenue limit is increased by the amount of any refunded or rescinded property taxes paid by the school board. Additionally, this new law provides that rescinded or refunded taxes within a tax incremental finance district (TID) may not be charged back against school districts and other taxing jurisdictions unless the TID value is lower than the tax incremental base.