As we await Gov. Evers’ budget, WASB GR staff is working with lawmakers on legislation

Ahead of Gov. Evers’ anticipated introduction of his proposed 2019-21 state budget on Thursday (Feb. 28), we thought this would be a good time to let you know about just a few of the non-budget advocacy activities the WASB Government Relations Team has been engaged with.

Method for Giving Notice of Special Board Meetings – We’ve been working with Rep. Rick Gundrum (R-Slinger) and Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) on draft legislation to modernize the statutory procedures for providing notice of special school board meetings.  The language would mirror a similar change made last session which updated the statutes relating to giving notice of special city council meetings.  We expect this draft bill will be circulated for co-signers in the coming weeks.

Publication of School Board Proceedings in Newspapers—We’ve been working with Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) on a redraft of 2017 Assembly Bill 70,  a bill that would allow school boards and other local governing boards to publish their proceedings on their websites rather than paying an official newspaper to publish them as required under current law.  Rep. Thiesfeldt has drafted a version that the chief opponent of last session’s bill, the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, will accept; however, that version still requires newspaper publication and, thus, provides little relief from this mandate for schools. More work is needed.  We will continue to work on this issue and continue to push for more relief from this mandate.

Rehiring WRS Annuitants – We’ve been working with Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) and Rep. Rob Brooks (R-Saukville) on draft legislation to roll back the so-called “double-dipping” positions that deter the rehiring of retired teachers, administrators and support staff.  Given school staffing shortages in many portions of the state, the restrictions reduce the supply of qualified personnel available for districts to hire.

(Under current law, if a Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) annuitant, or a disability annuitant who has attained his or her normal retirement date, is appointed to a position with a WRS-participating employer, in which he or she is expected to work for 365 consecutive days at least two-thirds of what is considered full-time employment by the Department of Employee Trust Funds (DETF), the annuity must be suspended and no annuity payment is payable until after the individual again terminates covered employment.  Additionally, WRS annuitants cannot be rehired into WRS covered employment until they have completed a “break-in-service” of at least 75 days. )

Local control of suspension/expulsion process relating to firearms—We’ve been working with Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) on a redraft of 2017 Assembly Bill 496 to return control to local school boards over the suspension and expulsion process for students who possess a firearm in a school zone.  The bill was approved in committee on a unanimous vote in both houses last session and was passed by the state Assembly on a voice vote but did not receive a floor vote in the state Senate.