Update on legislative action on school safety

As we await the release of a proposal on school safety from Governor Walker and legislative leaders, there is disagreement between the Senate and Assembly GOP majorities on how to take up school safety legislation. The gist of it is this: if the school safety legislation is taken up in a special session, that is the only legislation that can be debated.  If it is taken up as a part of the ongoing regular session, any other bills that are still alive can also be taken up at the same time.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has made it clear that the Assembly is done for the legislative session but he welcomes the calling of a special session for the narrow purpose of taking up school safety only.  Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) wants to make changes to bills already passed by the Assembly, including the bill to revamp the state’s youth prison system, and would presumably want school safety to be taken up in regular session.  That would open it up for other bills to be acted on as well, including adding amendments to bills that have already been passed by the Assembly. The Senate is scheduled to be in session for the last time on March 20 and any changes they make to bills already acted upon by the Assembly that day would effectively kill those bills if the Assembly refuses to come back.

As we wrote in a previous post, the WASB has been meeting with the governor’s office and others on the subject of school safety.  We have stressed that any proposal should provide ongoing resources with as much local flexibility as possible while avoiding unfunded state mandates. We are hopeful that the governor and both houses of the legislature can get behind a meaningful proposal that will address both prevention/intervention efforts as well as facility upgrades.

Meanwhile, Democrat state lawmakers are bringing forth legislation that is similar to what was proposed by State Superintendent Tony Evers last week.