• WisPolitics

2015-16 Legislature: Printable directory | Leadership rosters | New faces


 12:10 AM 

County exec bill going to guv

The Assembly has concurred 53-40 on Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald’s bill that would prevent members of the Legislature from serving concurrently as a county executive.

The bill, which cleared the Senate 19-14, now goes to the guv’s desk.

Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, recently introduced the bill and has acknowledged it is aimed at Winnebago County Exec Mark Harris. He announced last year he plans to run as a Dem for the 18th SD, which is expected to be the most competitive race this fall.

The Senate amended the bill to provide 60 days following the certification of the election for either office before the ban would kick in.


 12:00 AM 

Vos amendment gets Assembly OK, bill goes back to Senate

The Assembly has added Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ new voucher funding formula to a Senate bill dealing with special needs scholarships.

Dems lost a challenge to the relevance of the amendment to the bill.

The bill was concurred 56-37 and now goes back to the Senate.

Vos’ amendment would adjust the overall funding formula public schools use for voucher students. Under the Rochester Republican's new proposal, public schools could count the full voucher scholarship amount immediately but not the additional money it costs to educate a student in that district.

The original amendment would have required public schools count voucher students on a three-year rolling average, meaning they would be counted one-third the first year, two-thirds the second and fully the third before phasing back toward zero in following years.

Current law lets districts count those students for the full amount, beyond the voucher scholarship, immediately toward revenue limit authority.

The bill, SB 615, would make several changes to the Special Needs Scholarship Program created in the most recent budget. That program lets public school children with disabilities receive financial assistance from the state to participate in school choice.

The legislation would, among other things, let children with disabilities apply for the scholarship to attend a private school at any point during the school year.






Thursday, February 18, 2016

 11:19 PM 

'Alicia's Law' going back to Senate

A bipartisan bill that would direct more money and more tools toward fighting Internet crimes against children is headed back to the Senate after picking up a technical amendment in the Assembly.

The Assembly passed the bill 87-7.

Known as “Alicia’s law,” the legislation focuses on two elements in the fight against crimes against children: money and subpoenas. An earlier amendment to the bill would transfer $1 million from various state DOJ accounts to one that would be focused on criminal investigations of the crimes. The original bill would have raised the money through a $20 surcharge to misdemeanor convictions and $40 to felonies.

The bill also would give the AG authority to issue administrative subpoenas to gather from Internet providers the protocol records that identify users. An earlier amendment specifies the circumstances when that subpoena can be used and the information that can be obtained. The Assembly amendment tonight further narrowed those subpoena powers.

Assembly author Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, said the latest change in no way threatens the bill in the Senate.

Alicia Kozakiewicz, the bill’s namesake, was 13 when she met someone online, was lured from her home and taken across state lines. She was chained by the neck in a basement, she said, and kept there for four days and nights before a child task force rescued her after tracking the online photos her captor had posted of her on the Internet.


 11:04 PM 

Assembly sends navigable water bill to guv

A navigable waters bill is headed for the guv’s desk after the Assembly concurred 56-37 on an amended version of the legislation.

The Assembly last week approved a version of the bill that would allow general permits for dredging of up to 30 cubic yards from a lake bed rather than more restrictive individual permits. It also would change the way Areas of Special Natural Resource Interest are designated, requiring the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules approve them. The Assembly also wanted to create a mechanism under which developers could get clean deeds to dry lake beds.

The Senate, though, dropped the dry lake bed and dredging provisions. It also reworked the Areas of Special Natural Resource provision to limit the types of areas the DNR can designate.

The office of Senate co-author Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, said the change would still mean, for example, the DNR could not designate all of Lake Winnebago an Area of Special Natural Resource. Instead, that designation would be limited to the lake's most sensitive areas.

Sen. Rob Cowles, who co-authored the legislation as chair of the Natural Resources and Energy, said many of the provisions were pulled because there was not enough time to carefully review them before the Legislature adjourns.


 10:59 PM 

Assembly passes Milwaukee County debt collection bill

The Assembly has given a green light to a bill that revives provisions similar to those in the Bucks arena legislation that would let Milwaukee County use its debt collection to cover its portion of the project.

The money this time around, though, is not set aside specifically for the Bucks arena.

The bill drew a bipartisan 55-40 vote.

AB 885, by Rep. Dan Knodl, R-Germantown, would let the Department of Revenue take over debt collection for the county. The legislation would allow for payment plans as low as $25 per month in certain circumstances based on income levels of those who owe.

Among the amendments to the bill is one that would ensure the money collected is directed to the areas of county government to which the debt was owed. A further amendment also places restitution to crime victims as the top priority. Money left over would go to the county coffers.

The bill each year would direct $1 million or 50 percent of the amount collected, whichever is less, to a local workforce development board. The bill also would require review of the debt collection every three years.

Milwaukee County now is receiving $4 million less per year in shared-revenue payments from the state to cover the counties portion of the arena project.


 10:21 PM 

Krug votes against well bill with his sub

The GOP author of a sub amendment for a high-capacity well bill got his proposal adopted and then voted against the bill.

Rep. Scott Krug, after being called out by Dems after the 57-35 vote in favor of the bill, said he wanted to add more to the sub to Rep. Lee Nerison's legislation. Krug, R-Nekoosa, said he spent three years working on a high-capacity well bill. His more sweeping legislation recently died, so he tried to boost Nerison's narrower bill.

AB 874 deals with permitting for the wells, which can pump 100,000 gallons of water per day. Under the bill, for instance, no new permit would be required for well maintenance or when ownership is transferred. The Westby Republican’s legislation also would allow for the drilling of a new well using the same specs as the old as long as the new one is within 75 feet.

In response to Dems on the floor, Krug said he thought the bill "fell a little short." Later, he was more specific, saying his primary problem with the bill was the ownership transfer provision.

"That's just too big of a hurdle to jump for my constituents," Krug said.

Krug's sub for the bill would create hydrology tests for three watersheds in the Central Sands area of the state as well as require flow meters for many of the high-capacity wells.

Dems made their opposition to the bill clear much earlier in the debate. Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, said the bill, particularly the transfer of ownership provision, moves the state toward a "Western-style" water rights approach, which, he added, amounts to: "I have dibs."

And the amendment calling for a study is just pushing the problem down the road, Mason said.

"You're selling snake oil to your constituents so you can go home and say you did something," he said.

Krug told Dems to "spare me the indignation" when they aren't offering their own solutions. And, he said, it's time to stop laying all the blame on farmers.

"There's got to be some shared pain," he said. "There's got to be some shared sacrifice. There's got to be some shared solutions."


 9:11 PM 

Rulemaking bill clears Assembly

An amended version of legislation that would add new requirements to the rulemaking process cleared the Assembly 60-33 alng party lines.

See the roll call here.

AB 251 would require legislative approval for any proposed rule that would carry $10 million or more in compliance costs to implement. GOP Rep. Adam Neylon’s legislation would add another public hearing on proposed rules that would occur earlier in the process than is now required.

Neylon, of Pewaukee, said he worked with multiple stakeholders from across the business spectrum to make the bill work. That's why the bill had nine amendments, he said.

"Regulatory reform is not a very glamorous subject," he said, "but it is an important one."

The bill also would give the Legislature, through the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules, the power to request an independent economic analysis after viewing estimates from state agencies on the costs.

If an independent review found the costs would eclipse the $10 million threshold, the agency would have to ask JCRAR to introduce a bill authorizing promulgation of the proposed rule; to modify the proposal; or to withdraw the rule. 

Forty groups have lobbied on the bill since its introduction in June, according to the GAB's website. And Dems pointed out the legislation's opponents, including the National Federation of Independent Business.

"This bill will hurt public health and the environment," Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, said, "and dilute the voice o small business."

Several utility groups have raised concerns over how the bill would dovetail with federal requirements, and insurance companies are looking for an exemption for their industry.

One of Neylon’s amendments offers "narrow exemptions" from the legislation for the insurance industry. Another amendment clarifies how the process would work when Environmental Protection Agency regs and the state rulemaking process come together. Another amendment delays implementation of the bill until January 2017.


 7:18 PM 

Some confusion after Assembly returns from caucus

Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, had a brief moment of confusion after returning from partisan caucuses.

Taylor was speaking on her amendment to SB 503, a bill from Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, that makes several changes to tax laws and Department of Revenue procedures. But she forgot which bill she was speaking on and asked Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca for help.

“Peter, do you know what this bill is?” Taylor asked as fellow lawmakers laughed. “I can’t remember. I’m sorry. It will come back to me.”

Rep. Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, called it a “very convincing argument, indeed.”

Taylor then proceeded to raise her concern over the bill. One of the bill’s changes would forbid DOR from imposing some penalties on taxpayers until the agency has sent them summons and the taxpayers have ignored those summons.

Taylor said that would lead people to not comply “until they get the summons.”


 6:09 PM 

Streetcar bill wins Assembly approval

Milwaukee County and the state could not incur any expenses related to the city of Milwaukee’s streetcar project under a bill that cleared the Assembly 59-36.

And that didn't sit well with Dems, who repeatedly argued the topic is a matter of local control and not one the Legislature should be concerned with.

"If you don't want to fund it, don't fund it," Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, said. "But don't go out of your way to pick on my city."

AB 562, by Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, adds the state to a measure in the current budget that requires the county cannot incur expenses related to the streetcar unless the city fully reimburses those expenses.

An amendment to the bill clarifies the state and Milwaukee County cannot incur any expenses relating to the operation “or construction” of the streetcar. The amendment also requires Milwaukee reimburse the state or county for any direct or indirect expenses related to the project.

Kremer said his bill has nothing to do with local control. No one, he said, is telling the city that it can or cannot build the streetcar system.

But, he said, project cost overruns are common on major government projects and he wants to make sure state taxpayers don't shoulder the burden.

"I do not wish ill will on the city of Milwaukee or its residents," Kremer said.

Two Republicans -- Al Ott, of Forest Junction, and John Spiros, of Marshfield, joined Dems in voting against. See the roll call here.

Following the vote, Rep. Thomas Larson, R-Colfax, got a standing ovation from the body for running the bill.



 5:06 PM 

Larson takes the chair

Rep. Thomas Larson has taken the chair to run a bill dealing with state money for Milwaukee's streetcar project.

Once again, the move follows the Assembly tradition of letting departing members run bills.


 5:02 PM 

Forestry bill going to Walker

An amended bill that would make several changes to the state’s Managed Forest Land program now awaits the guv’s signature after the Assembly concurred 62-32 on a Senate bill.

The goal of Rep. Jeffrey Mursau’s bill, backers say, is to strike a balance between supporting sustainable timber harvests and meeting the needs of the nearly 50,000 landowners in the Department of Natural Resource’s program. There are nearly 3.3 million acres in the MFL program.

Under the program, landowners who sign up and agree to forestry management practices and plans to log timber pay fees, in lieu of property taxes, that are less than what they would have been taxed. Current law requires those property owners reserve no more than 160 acres as closed, or private, while the rest is kept open for public recreational use.

Under the amended bill by Mursau, R-Crivitz, the 160-acre cap for nonindustrial land owners would be doubled to 320. The bill’s other proposed changes to the law include:

*ensuring property owners are signing a contract when entering the program and can withdraw if they do not agree with changes;

*letting land owners lease out their closed property for recreational use;

*increasing the minimum acreage requirement from 10 to 20;

*letting landowners remove as many as 5 acres from the program to build a residence;

*directing that the closed-acreage fees go to the parcel’s county and municipality or town rather than to the DNR, as current law requires. That provision is coupled with an end to the timber harvest yield taxes local governments now receive.


 4:44 PM 

Per diem bill gets Assembly's OK

The Assembly has approved via voice vote a bill that would sunset a state law that lets certain lawmakers use their per diems as income tax deductions.

The bill by Rep. Keith Ripp, R-Lodi, applies to lawmakers who live within 50 miles of the state Capitol. Those legislators have for years been able to deduct their per diems, while those who live farther away from the Capitol have not had that option, according to the bill's backers.


 3:59 PM 

Digging into some numbers

The debate over a bill that would set rules for state agency budget requests led to a back and forth between Majority Leader Jim Steineke and Dem Gordon Hintz.

Under the bill, state agencies would have to include in their biennial budget requests a plan that would keep their operations spending at current levels as well as one to impose a 5 percent cut. The original bill applied to agencies’ overall budgets, but the legislation was amended to apply to operations, which excludes aids to local governments, individuals and organizations. The substitute amendment also would exclude expenditures from federal revenues and for debt service.

Hintz, D-Oshkosh, criticized the bill as a "cute proposal" that isn't a solution, and he hit Republicans over budget cuts to the UW System.

"The real issue of fiscal responsibility comes from the decisions we make in an ongoing basis," Hintz said.

Steineke, R-Kaukauna, jumped at that statement, asking Hintz if he knows how much the state would have spent if every Dem pulling motion had passed.

Hintz countered that is "junk math" because it takes the motions in aggregate. Dems, he said, try a new motion when the previous one fails.

"But if you rattle that off, it's one of the lamer things we've heard on the floor," Hintz said.

The number, Steineke said, is nearly $2.5 billion.

"When you're complaining about fiscal responsibility," Steineke said, "maybe take a look in the mirror."


 3:38 PM 

Knudson has the chair

Following Assembly tradition, members who will not be returning are running bills from the chair.

Rep. Dean Knudson, R-Hudson, is up first. The bill deals with state agency budget proposals.


 3:15 PM 

Strip search bill going to guv

A GOP bill that would expand the circumstances under which someone in police custody can be strip searched is headed to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk following the Assembly's voice vote concurrence on a Senate bill.

Now, other than those arrested for felonies and some misdemeanors, someone has to be facing detainment of at least 12 hours before police can conduct a strip search. The bill would drop the 12-hour requirement.

Dems pointed out the bill reverses a bipartisan move on the floor last session that established the 12-hour wait. Rep. Evan Goyke said he understands the need for strip searches but added the 12-hour wait protected people who haven't been charged.

"They're now going to have to squat naked in a jail even though they're not charged with a crime," the Milwaukee Dem said.

Rep. Mandela Barnes brought up a recent $5 million settlement between the city of Milwaukee and 74 African-American residents who said they were subjected to illegal strip searches and cavity searches. The Milwaukee Dem proposed an amendment that would have required the state Department of Justice track data -- age, ethnicity, zip code -- of people who are strip searched within the the 12-hour window. The amendment failed.

Assembly bill author Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, said he understands how "horrifying" strip searches can be. He said he prays he never has to go through it and "I pray more for the person who would have to strip search me."

But, he said, the state tried the 12-hour wait and heard it isn't good enough.

"We need to listen to our law enforcement," Kleefisch said.


 2:30 PM 

Assembly OKs cellphone bill

A bill that would mostly prohibit cellphone use while driving through construction zones has Assembly approval via voice vote.

AB 198 would establish exceptions for reporting emergencies and for drivers who use voice-operated or hands-free devices. Fines for using a cellphone in a construction zone would be $20 to $40 for a first offense and $50 to $100 for subsequent offenses within a year.


 1:41 PM 

Alzheimer's, dementia bills win Assembly approval

A package of 10 bills from the Speaker’s Task Force on Alzheimer’s and Dementia are headed to the Senate after clearing the Assembly either unanimously or via voice votes.

The bills target a variety of areas related to Alzheimer’s and dementia. AB 791, for example, would require a community-based residential facility obtain a signed acknowledgment form for administration of psychotropic medications.

Other bills in the package would:

*create virtual dementia tour licenses;

*direct $50,000 for two new Alzheimer’s studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison;

*create a dementia specialist certification program;

*create a county-level pilot program for dementia crisis units.

Several of the bills also were amended, some in technical ways and others in ways that were more far-reaching.

For instance, AB 787 would provide $1 million for respite care under the Alzheimer's Family and Caregiver Support Program. An amendment would allow Native American tribes access to the program. A second amendment would increase the level of household income from $40,000 to $48,000 to be eligible for the program.

The bills are expected to cost $2 million this biennium.


 12:47 PM 

Nygren: There was a way to victory

Rep. John Nygren said the hardest part about choosing not to run for the 8th CD was that there was a "pretty clear pathway, honestly, to victory."

Still, he said, family trumped that. During the past couple of years, the Marinette Republican said, both parents and two of his siblings died, and that emphasized to him the importance of family.

"Life is short," said Nygren, whose oldest daughter has struggled with addiction and has been an inspiration for a package of bills he's pushed through to combat heroin abuse.

Nygren also said he has reviewed an LAB financial audit of the UW System. The LAB identified concerns some UW reserve policies and recommended a review of them.

Nygren said he didn't see any "glaring issues" but expects to learn more during Joint Legislative Audit Committee hearings.

According to the audit, The system's unrestricted program revenue balances declined from $973.3
million as of June 30, 2014, to $923.9 million as of June 30, 2015.

"Obviously," Nygren said, "the reserves are still pretty darn strong."





 12:31 PM 

Drone bills fly through Assembly

The Assembly has separated two bills regulating the use of drones, approving AB 670 via voice vote.

That bill would prohibit the use of drones over state correctional institutions.

The second, AB 671, would enhance the penalties for crimes committed using a drone.

EDITOR'S NOTE: AB 671 passed via voice vote later in the floor period.


 12:30 PM 

Shoreland zoning bill headed to guv

A property rights and shoreland zoning bill is headed to the guv’s desk after the Assembly concurred on the Senate version via voice vote.

The bill cleared the Senate this week 19-13, but that body amended the legislation to remove a provision dealing with the timing of property tax assessments on vacant land. The bill originally cleared the Assembly 56-39.

Rep. Adam Jarchow’s AB 582 has gone through several revisions since introduction. The Balsam Lake Republican’s amended version eliminates a provision from the original bill that would have established new “vested rights,” under which local zoning laws are frozen at a certain point when a developer applies for permits.

Other provisions include:

*clarifying that land platted and zoned for residential, commercial or manufacturing is assessed at its unimproved value until a building permit is issued, except in certain circumstances involving TIF districts;

*requiring a two-thirds vote from the governing board to down-zone a property, essentially allowing fewer uses on the land. The original bill called for approval by 75 percent of the board;

*requiring municipalities provide to those who request it an annual publication of zoning changes;

*prohibiting the Department of Natural Resources or other authorities from preventing flat roofs on boathouses;

*letting plaintiffs substitute the judge in contested case hearings;

*and letting a licensed surveyor determine the ordinary high-water mark on shoreland properties.


 12:18 PM 

Future dim for fetal tissue bill

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos wouldn't say directly if the Assembly would come back to take up a fetal tissue bill if it clears the Senate, but his answer didn't bode well for the legislation.

"My plan is to not come back," the Rochester Republican said.

The bill would prohibit the sale of, or research on, fetal tissue derived from abortions.


 11:49 AM 

GOP lawmakers respond to protest outside Capitol

The GOP author of a bill at the heart of the "A Day without Latinos and Immigrants" protest outside the Capitol this morning said those people are misinformed about the legislation.

Rep. John Spiros, speaking prior to the floor period today, said his bill dealing with "sanctuary cities" is not designed to punish people who are in the country illegally. As he talked in Assembly Speaker Robin Vos' office, cheering, drums and speeches in Spanish could be heard from just outside the window.

"Bottom line is," Spiros, R-Marshfield, said, "what they're being told is not the truth."

The protest drew thousands of people to the State Street entrance to the Capitol, and hundreds more circled the building in a parade. As the Assembly gaveled in, the protests continued loudly outside, prompting one Dem to ask Vos, R-Rochester, if the people outside the building would be allowed into the Assembly gallery, which was mostly empty.

Vos said the typical rules of the Assembly apply, meaning no signs or cellphone use.

Prior to the floor period, Vos backed Spiros' comments about the "sanctuary cities" legislation and another bill that would limit and regulate the creation and use of local photo IDs. The protest also targeted that bill.

Vos blamed "Democratic activists" for capitalizing on the situation and distorting the facts of the bills.

"The goal of the legislation is to make sure the people who commit crimes are punished," Vos said of the "sanctuary cities" bill. He later added, "Luckily, we have the facts on our side."

That legislation would let local governments allow law enforcement to ask people about their immigration status once they've been charged with a crime. "Sanctuary cities" prohibit such questions.

The bill passed the Assembly on Tuesday with an amendment that changed the wording to "charged with a crime" from "arrested or detained." That, Spiros said, makes clear his bill is not targeting people who do not commit crimes or who receive traffic violations.

Dems today took credit for amendments to the bill, saying they successfully lobbied Spiros to change the bill. Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa said the bill's changes could let law enforcement in her district of Milwaukee continue working with immigrant communities.

Still, the Dem said, the bill is anti-immigrant and likely to clear the Senate.

"Unfortunately, I see it passing that house," she said, adding the protests are crucial to send a clear message to Gov. Scott Walker.






 2:04 AM 

Online voter registration bill passes Assembly

The Assembly has OK'd an amended online voter registration bill, sending the legislation back to the Senate for another vote.

Members approved the bill 56-38, with four Republicans joining Dems in opposition. See the roll call here.

Dems, during debate over passage, insisted the GOP could have passed a "clean bill" that maintained the special registration deputies allowed under current law. Rep. Terese Berceau, who worked on earlier versions of the legislation, said she is "disappointed you did this."

"What we are missing is the fact SRDs help people without computers," the Madison Dem said.

Still, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the legislation marked an effort that stretched across the aisle.

"This is a good bill that really focused on what we want to do," the Rochester Republican said.


 1:19 AM 

Debate kicks off on online voter registration bill

Dems are trying to amend an online voter registration bill by restoring the special registration deputies the bill would eliminate.

"Pass a clean bill," Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison, said.

SB 295 would let the state start a system for electronic voter registration. That system could be used by eligible voters who hold state driver’s licenses or ID cards. If their information is verified by the Department of Transportation, those voters would not have to provide proof of residence.

A sub amendment to the bill requires, among other things, the online voter registration system be up and running by the 2017 spring primary.

The bill and sub also eliminate the special registration deputies and replace them with election registration officials assigned by a clerk. That provision has drawn pushback from some groups and Dems who argue eliminating the volunteer deputies would put an end to voter registration drives.

Another provision in the bill that faces opposition would change the rules for counting absentee ballots. Under current law, the ballots must be postmarked by Election Day. Under the sub, the ballots must be delivered to the polling place by Election Day.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos also has a proposed amendment up for the bill. The Rochester Republican's amendment deals with a campaign contributions provision. The tweak would serve as a catch-all, making sure there are limits for campaign contributions to state lawmakers from federal PACs.


 1:12 AM 

WIAA bill clears Assembly

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association would face more public oversight under a bill the Assembly has passed 61-34.

Rep. John Nygren’s bill would allow membership in an interscholastic athletic association only if it agrees to be governed by the state’s public records and open meetings laws. The Marinette Republican’s bill mostly mirrors legislation introduced in 2009 by former Dem Rep. Tony Staskunas, of West Allis.

But Dems tonight questioned the legislation and pointed out what they said was irony in a co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee proposing open records legislation. Rep. Andy Jorgensen called Nygren a member of the "gang of 12" that inserted into the budget changes to the state's open records law.

"You can't make this stuff up folks," the Milton Dem said.

The WIAA drew widespread attention for in recent months for telling schools to emphasize that taunts or chants, such as "air ball" during basketball games, directed at opposing fans or players are considered rude and are not allowed. Nygren, at the time, wrote in a column that such policies “deserve more oversight and scrutiny.”

Nygren called Dem criticism of the bill "rhetoric" and said there's a clear goal with the legislation.

"Transparency on all forms of government is a good thing," he said.


 1:02 AM 

Assembly approves broadband bill

The Assembly has cleared via voice vote an amended broadband bill that would give the Public Service Commission new duties in expanding the service in the state.

Under Rep. Romaine Quinn’s AB 820, the PSC would be required to:

*encourage broadband infrastructure development in underserved areas of the state;

*make network project permit information available to anyone;

*work with other governments on timely issuance of permits;

*and encourage coordinated activities for the approval and issuance of permits.

Among the changes under the amendment is one that would require written notification of a permit denial include evidence that the denial was not arbitrary.


 1:00 AM 

College affordability package gets OK from Assembly

The package of six bills has cleared the Assembly.

The votes on the bills were:

*AB 739, which would create an income tax deduction for interest paid on qualified education loans. The bill passed 61-37. See the roll call here.

*AB 740, which increases grants for tech colleges to aid students.The bill passed 61-36. See the roll call here.

*AB 741, which would expand emergency financial need grants for students at tech colleges and two-year UW colleges. The bill passed 61-36. See the roll call here.

AB 742, which would require DWD coordinate between colleges and employers to increase the number of students placed in internships and add two employees at the agency to oversee that.  The bill passed 60-37. See the roll call here.

AB 743, which would require the UW Board of Regents create new positions to coordinate efforts to help students get internships. The bill passed 57-40. See the roll call here.

AB 744, which would require colleges and universities provide students information relating to educational costs and financial literacy. The bill passed 61-36. See the roll call here.



 12:41 AM 

Assembly calendar set for Thursday

The Assembly's floor period Thursday will start at 11 a.m. and end at midnight as members take up what is expected to be the final calendar of the session.

The Rules Committee, in approving the calendar, added 34 bills to the calendar and dropped two.

The additions to the calendar include:

*AB 251, which would add new requirements to the rulemaking process, including requiring legislative approval for a proposed rule that would carry $10 million or more in compliance costs to implement;

*AB 345, which would sunset individual income tax deductions for expense allowances for certain lawmakers;

*AB 582, which would affect property rights and regulations of shoreland zoning, among other things. The Senate, in passing the bill 19-13 tonight, added an amendment, which means it returns to the Assembly.

*SB 459, which would overhaul portions of the state's navigable waters laws. The Senate also amended that bill, meaning it returns to the Assembly before heading to the guv.

*SB 546, which, among other things, would create an administrative subpoena for investigating Internet crimes against children;

*SB 615, a special needs scholarship program for voucher students. The amendment-free bill cleared the Senate tonight. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos intends to amend the bill with a proposal to adjust the overall funding formula public schools use for choice students.

*and SB 707, which would prevent a legislator from concurrently holding office as a county executive. The Senate passed the legislation tonight.

The committee also dropped from the calendar:

*AB 719, which deals with shining wild animals;

*and AB 748, which deals with technical education grants to school districts.

See the finalized calendar here.


 12:16 AM 

Assembly trying to wrap up calendar tonight

The leaders of both parties have agreed to try to wrap up the calendar tonight and are shooting for adjournment around 1:15 a.m.

If the calendar is completed tonight the 8 a.m. to noon floor period scheduled for Wednesday will be cancelled, leaving more time for caucuses.

To achieve that, there now is a 3-minute limit on all passage speeches.


 10:43 PM 

Next up: College affordability package

The Assembly is diving into the GOP’s college affordability package, with Dems starting debate with a proposal to revive their "higher ed/lower debt" amendment for the first bill, AB 739.

The six bills in the package cover multiple elements of higher education, from increasing grants to technical colleges to expanding internship opportunities.

The bills in the package and their fiscal estimates, according to state agencies, are:

*AB 739, which would create an income tax deduction for interest paid on qualified education loans. Fiscal: $500,000 in fiscal 2016 and $5.2 million annually after that;

*AB 740, which increases grants for tech colleges to aid students. The bill has a sub amendment that would eliminate a requirement tech colleges match the state money going toward the grants. Instead, the bill simply funnels $1 million to tech colleges during the biennium. Fiscal: $500,000 in the current and following fiscal years;

*AB 741, which would expand emergency financial need grants for students at tech colleges and two-year UW colleges. Fiscal: $450,000 total;

*AB 742, which would require DWD coordinate between colleges and employers to increase the number of students placed in internships and add two employees at the agency to oversee that. The bill has an amendment by author Rep. David Murphy, R-Greenville, that clarifies the legislation doesn't carry new money but rather a transfer of $200,000 from the Fast Forward program. Fiscal: $0;

*AB 743, which would require the UW Board of Regents create new positions to coordinate efforts to help students get internships. Fiscal: $500,000 for the biennium and then continuing annually unless action is taken to cut the money;

*and AB 744, which would require colleges and universities provide students information relating to educational costs and financial literacy. Fiscal: $0.


 10:24 PM 

Fitzgerald: Water utility bill 'not going anywhere'

Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said legislation that would ease the restrictions on private companies purchasing municipal water systems will not clear the Senate this session.

"It's not going anywhere," Fitzgerald said after the Senate adjourned.

The Juneau Republican said there is merit to the idea of allowing private companies to purchase the systems, especially for small towns and villages that have problems with theirs but lack the resources to repair them.

Still, he said Senate Republicans had been working on an amendment to get members comfortable with the bill, but couldn't reach a consensus. With the Assembly expected to adjourn after Thursday and the Senate not coming back until mid-March, that means the legislation is dead for the session.


 10:02 PM 

Senate comes back

The Senate is back and has concurred on AB 664, which would prohibit the Department of Health Services 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.


 9:57 PM 

Local ID bill going to Walker

A local ID bill is headed to Gov. Scott Walker's desk after the Assembly concurred 62-35 on the Senate version of the legislation.

Dem Rep. Peter Barca, of Kenosha, called the legislation a "frivolous notion" and anti-local control.

"We obviously have sent all the wrong signals to our immigration community," he said.

But Assembly bill author Rep. Joe Sanfelippo argued the bill simply adds a few provisions to how the cards can be used. The New Berlin Republican said the legislation "certainly isn't anti-immigrant."


 9:47 PM 

Getting caught up on a few things

We've been temporarily distracted by returns in the Supreme Court primary. Here are a couple of things that happened on the Senate floor:

*AB 563, which would allow towns in Dane County to opt out of the countywide zoning ordinance at certain times, is headed to the guv's desk. It cleared the Senate 19-13.

*AB 582, which would affect property rights and regulations of shoreland zoning, among other things, cleared 19-13. The Senate added an amendment, which means it has to go back to the Assembly before it can head to the guv.

*AB 603, which would codify DNR standards on the setback for structures from the ordinary high-water mark, is also going to the guv after passing 19-13.


EDITOR'S NOTE: This post has been updated to add the amendment to AB 582, which requires the bill to go back to the Assembly before it can go to the guv.


 9:29 PM 

Debate shifts to local ID cards bill

The Assembly is taking up the Senate's version of a bill that would restrict local photo ID cards.

The amended GOP legislation -- by Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, of New Berlin, and Sen. Van Wanggaard, of Racine -- would prohibit towns and counties from issuing or spending money on the issuance of photo ID for any of its residents, though the original bill made exceptions for local government employees. The amended legislation provides additional exceptions, including for: government vendors, contractors or student employees; use on transit systems; and accessing services provided by the town or county.

The bill also would let cities and villages issue photo IDs but prohibit their use as proof of residence when voting, voter ID or to obtain public-assistance benefits.



 9:22 PM 

Amendments planned for online registration, special needs scholarship bills

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said there are amendments planned for the online voter registration and special needs scholarship bills.

The change to the online registration bill deals with a provision covering campaign contributions. The Rochester Republican's amendment tweaks the bill and serves essentially as a catch-all, making sure there are limits for campaign contributions to state lawmakers from federal PACs.

The amendment to the special needs bill replaces a previous one by Vos, though they both deal with changes to the overall funding formula public schools use for voucher students.

The original amendment would have required public schools count voucher students on a three-year rolling average, meaning they would be counted one-third the first year, two-thirds the second and fully the third before phasing back toward zero in following years. Current law lets districts count those students for the full amount immediately toward revenue limit authority.

The new amendment would let public schools count the full voucher scholarship amount immediately but not the additional money it costs to educate a student in that district.

The Assembly on Thursday will take up an amendment-free special needs scholarship bill the Senate passed 19-13 along party lines. The Assembly version of the bill was on the calendar today.




 9:20 PM 

WEDC fraud bill clears Assembly

A bill that would make it a crime to provide fraudulent information to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. has passed the Assembly on a voice vote.

Rep. Samantha Kerkman’s AB 669 would punish with a Class E felony those who make false statements or misuse WEDC awards. The felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $50,000 or both.

Those who commit the crime would be ineligible for economic development benefits for seven years.
The bill was amended to let WEDC file civil actions in those cases.


 9:01 PM 

Vocation teaching license bill gets Assembly green light

A bill that expands on a 2015 budget measure allowing for experience-based methods to receive a professional teaching license won Assembly concurrence 63-35.

Dems called the bill just another GOP attempt to villify teachers. Rep. Gary Hebl said if Republicans continue down that path, "our education system will be comparable to Mississippi."

"You're continuing your attack on the public schools of the state of Wisconsin," the Sun Prairie Dem said.

But Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt offered a different perspective. The bill, the Fond du Lac Republican said, solves a problem.

"Superintendents and principals have indicated they need this," he said, "and this is a response to their request."

The budget measure allowed for people to receive teaching licenses for technical subjects if they completed a curriculum designed by the school board or district. Assembly author Rep. Dan Knodl's bill would expand that to vocational subjects such as agriculture, food services or home economics.

The bill was amended in committee to clarify the initial license, which is valid for three years, is effective only in the district where it was issued. The Germantown Republican’s bill also was amended to require licenses issued through an experience-based method show how they were obtained.


 8:53 PM 

Senate sends two bills back to committee, putting their fate up in the air

The Senate has sent two Assembly bills on today's agenda back to committee raising questions about their fate this session.

AB 460, which would increase the compensation for those wrongfully convicted, was referred to the Joint Finance Committee. Senate Org already "dipped" the bill in Finance earlier this week, clearing the way for it to hit the floor. 

Under the bill the Assembly passed last week, the payments would go from $5,000 to $50,000 for each year a person was wrongfully incarcerated. The cap on payments would also increase from $25,000 to $1 million, and those exonerated would get access to transitional services, such as the state's health plan.

Meanwhile, legislation that would ease restrictions on private companies purchasing municipal water systems was referred back to Senate Org.

UPDATE: The Senate has now sent a third bill back to committee. AB 583, which seeks to restrict the ability of local governments to prohibit property owners from renting their home for at least seven consecutive days, has been sent to Senate Org.




 8:28 PM 

Bill lifting nuclear power plant moratorium heading to guv's desk

Legislation is now headed to the guv’s desk that would lift restrictions on new nuclear power plants that have acted as a moratorium over the last several decades. 

The Senate voted 23-9 to sign off on an Assembly bill lifting the restrictions the state enacted in 1983 that essentially halted construction of nuclear power plants. 

Under current law, the Public Service Commission can’t approve a nuclear plant unless an analysis shows ratepayers will save money and there is a storage operation with enough capacity to hold all of the spent fuel in the state. The bill would lift those restrictions.

Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, argued the state should instead be looking at ways to reduce carbon emissions through conservation and other steps. He said the reality is a nuclear power plant would not be built for years even if the bill is signed into law and other steps should be studied that don't carry the same risks as nuclear power.

"Lifting the moratorium is unnecessary," he said.






 8:01 PM 

Senate approves banning lawmakers from serving concurrently as county exec

Members of the Legislature would no longer be allowed to serve concurrently as a county executive under legislation that cleared the Senate 19-14.

Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, introduced the bill two weeks ago and has acknowledged it is aimed at Winnebago County Exec Mark Harris. He announced last year he plans to run as a Dem for the 18th SD, which is expected to be the most competitive race this fall.

The bill also could impact Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, who is running for Milwaukee County exec. Larson joined Republicans in voting for the bill, while Sen. Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, was the only GOP member to vote no.

Dems slammed the legislation as a partisan attempt by Republicans, who control the chamber 19-14, to hold onto power. Members pointed out Fitzgerald did not raise the issue when fellow Republican Paul Farrow of Pewaukee ran this spring for Waukesha County exec and held both jobs for almost three months before resigning his Senate seat. Dem-turned-independent state Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer also served simultaneously as Manitowoc County exec while in the Assembly.

Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-LaCrosse, said Republicans also had no problem with Gov. Scott Walker being absent from the state last year for long stretches as he ran for president. She also lumped in the bill with past GOP efforts to redraw legislative boundaries, do away with the Government Accountability Board and impose new restrictions on voting, saying they are all desperate attempts to keep their majorities.

“People see this as petty, vindictive and wrong,” she said.

Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said politics were a part of the bill. But he said politics are part of everything that happens in the Capitol. That aside, he said the policy question was one he found troubling. County governments are arms of the state under the Wisconsin Constitution and are often charged with carrying out state policy. Fitzgerald said he was troubled by the idea a county exec could vote on a bill one day and then go home the next and have huge influence over how the policy is carried out. 

He also said it was “immoral” for someone to draw a $100,000 salary as county exec and another $50,000 as a member of the state Legislature. It’s a slap in the face to members of the Senate to think someone could do both jobs, and Fitzgerald said he was sure there were enough qualified people in Winnebago County to have one person serve as county exec and another to represent the area in the Senate.

“It’s just mind boggling to me that they wouldn’t have two good people with the skills to do that,” Fitzgerald said.

The Senate amended the bill to provide 60 days following the certification of the election for either office before the ban would kick in.


 7:49 PM 

UI bill gets Assembly approval

Despite Dems arguing an unemployment insurance fraud bill is focused on the wrong part of the system, the GOP legislation passed via voice vote.

Dem Reps. Chris Taylor, of Madison, and Christine Sinicki, of Milwaukee, argued lawmakers should be focused on simplifying the unemployment insurance forms people have to fill out rather than on the people who often struggle to complete the paperwork correctly.

"It's almost a novel," Sinicki said. "People are bound to make a mistake."

But bill author Rep. Samantha Kerkman said there is fraud in the system, and her legislation will save the state money.

"One of the things I've been charged with by the people I represent i to protect the taxpayers," the Salem Republican said.


 7:20 PM 

Debate turns to unemployment fraud bill

Debate is starting on a GOP bill that would boost penalties for unemployment insurance fraud.

AB 533, by Rep. Samantha Kerkman, would increase the penalty amounts and potential imprisonment for fraud related to the benefits. Under current law, the penalties max out at $500 and 90 days in jail.

Under the Salem Republican's bill, the penalties would be: a maximum $10,000 fine and nine months in prison if the benefits don't exceed $2,500; a class I felony if the benefits are between $2,500 and $5,000; a class H felony when the benefits are between $5,000 and $10,000; and a class G felony when benefits exceed $10,000.

The bill was amended in committee to tweak the guidelines for charging multiple occurrences of fraud as one crime.


 7:18 PM 

Jagler returns volley with The Beatles

School crime-tracking bill author Rep. John Jagler responded to Rep. Gordon Hintz's Beatles reference with one of his own.

"I'm looking through you," the Watertown Republican told the Dem from Oshkosh.

The bill passed via voice vote.


 7:11 PM 

Hintz sings The Beatles

In defending an amendment to a bill dealing with tracking crimes that occur in schools, Rep. Gordon Hintz broke into song.

"Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away," the Oshkosh Dem sang in reference to Gov. Scott Walker administration.

Hintz's amendment then was tabled.


 7:06 PM 

Assembly passes 'sanctuary cities' bill

The Assembly has passed the GOP “sanctuary cities” bill 62-35 along party lines despite Dems’ continued criticisms of the bill.

Rep. Bob Kulp, R-Stratford, said some constituents had reached out to him with concerns. But those constituents, he said, were OK with the bill after Kulp cleared up those questions with the author, Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield.

Dems and activists haven’t wanted to “accurately portray the bill” and the changes to it, Kulp said.

“I don’t understand why this issue is being demagogued to the point that it is,” Kulp said.

Also pushing back on Dems’ comments was Rep. Ed Brooks, who said he had “a lot of compassion” for those who testified on the bill but that Dems are mischaracterizing the bill.

“If we focus on what the bill actually does, it’s a very narrow, focused bill,” the Reedsburg Republican said.

Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, took issue with those comments, saying Republicans are trying to “minimize what this bill does.”

“You, the Republican majority, are inciting fear in the community by passing the anti-immigrant bill,” she said.

See the roll call here.


 6:17 PM 

Senate approves Milwaukee Bucks license plate

The Senate approved 24-8 the creation of a license plate for the Milwaukee Bucks with some of the revenue going to pay off Wisconsin’s contribution to the team’s new arena.

Under the legislation, the plates would cost an extra $15 to issue. In addition to the regular vehicle registration fee, there would also be an annual payment of $25 that would be partly go to the state’s general with the rest going to the Milwaukee Bucks Foundation.

Under an amendment approved today, the state would get 80 percent of the annual voluntary payment for the first 20 years after the effective date of the bill with the remainder going to the foundation. After that, all of the money would go to the Bucks organization.

Dems sought to redirect those proceeds to Milwaukee, the county and the Wisconsin Center District, all of which are included in the financing plan for the arena. But those efforts were shot down.


 6:08 PM 

Assembly Dems slam 'sanctuary cities' bill

Debate in the Assembly has turned to the GOP “sanctuary cities” proposal, with Dems calling it an “anti-immigrant” bill.

The amended AB 450 would allow cities, towns and villages to let employees, such as law enforcement personnel, ask people about their immigration status after they’ve been charged with a crime. The original bill referred to people who had been “detained or arrested,” but author Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield, tweaked the language to make it more specific.

The legislation would let, but not make, municipalities require employees ask about immigration status. “Sanctuary cities” prohibit such questions.

Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, thanked Spiros for making the bill “better” but said it would still “be harmful.”

The bill, said Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, would make some people “hesitate to report criminal activity,” out of fear that local authorities will question their immigration status. That would happen at the state’s largest cities and at dairy farms alike, the Milwaukee Dem said.

“It is striking fear in immigrant families across this great state,” she said.

Under the bill, if a court finds municipalities have not complied, they would receive between $500 and $5,000 less the next year in shared-revenue payments from the state Department of Revenue. A second amendment to the bill would make it easier for the DOR to track for noncompliance.

It passed out of the Assembly Urban and Local Affairs Committee on a 6-2 vote.


 6:05 PM 

Senate approves state agencies including plans to keep operations budgets flat, reduce them 5 percent

State agencies would have to include in their biennial budget requests plans that would keep their operations spending at current levels as well as one to impose a 5 percent cut under legislation the Senate approved 19-13 along party lines.

Sen. Chris Kapgena’s original bill applied to agencies’ overall budgets. But it was amended to apply to operations, which excludes aids to local governments, individuals and organizations. The substitute amendment also would exclude from expenditures from federal revenues and for debt service. 

Dems proposed amendments to exempt the Department of Veterans Affairs, SeniorCare and the State Patrol within the Department of Transportation from the proposal.

Kapenga, R-Delafield, said the amendments were designed to give Dems fodder for press releases slamming Republicans, but little else. He called the amendment on Veterans Affairs “completely inappropriate.”

“You talk to any veteran and they are concerned about tax dollars being spent appropriately, and anyone who’s dealt with veterans knows that,” he said.

Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, countered the bill would just increase costs for agencies by adding to their workload while doing nothing to “spend money on good programs and get rid of bad programs.”

“This is the lazy approach,” she said.


 5:31 PM 

Senate approves limits on local ID cards

The Senate approved 19-13 along party lines placing new limits on the ID cards issued by local governments.

The original bill would have banned towns and counties from issuing or spending money on the photo ID cards, except those used for government employment. It would allow cities and villages to issue the cards because of the state's home rule. 

Under an amendment to SB 533, counties have more options to issue the cards. But the IDs issued by cities, counties and villages could not be used for voting, registering to vote or obtaining public benefits, such as the state's Medicaid program.

Dems slammed the bill as yet another encroachment on local control, questioning why it was necessary. They also suggested Republicans were looking to prevent local communities from doing things like issuing ID cards that could be used at a local funded pool. 

Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, also suggested the bill was targeted at immigrants and fit with calls from GOP presidential candidates to build a wall with Mexico.

"You want to do everything you can to keep them in the shadows," Carpenter said.

But Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, said Dems were relying on an old version of the bill for their criticism. The changes would allow local governments to issue ID cards, but would make sure they weren't used for voting and ensuring the integrity of the state's voter ID requirement.

 


 5:16 PM 

Dems push Corrections resolution

Assembly Dems have introduced a resolution calling for an investigation of juvenile and adult Corrections programs and facilities.

The Dems are arguing the investigation is necessary in light of abuse allegations at the Lincoln Hills youth center. Dems also are calling for legislative oversight hearings and an audit of Corrections.

"We have an obligation to protect kids," Rep. Fred Kessler, D-Milwaukee, said. "I'm astonished."


 4:47 PM 

Senate approves amended navigable waters bill

The Senate approved via voice vote a reworked navigable waters bill that pulled out some of the most controversial pieces.

The Assembly last week approved a version of the bill that would allow general permits for dredging of up to 30 cubic yards from a lake bed rather than more restrictive individual permits. It also would change the way Areas of Special Natural Resource Interest are designated, requiring the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules approve them. The Assembly also wanted to create a mechanism under which developers could get clean deeds to dry lake beds. 

The version that cleared the Senate today dropped the dry lake beds and provision for dredging lakes abutting one’s property. It also reworked the Areas of Special Natural Resource provision to limit the types of areas the DNR can give the designation, which covers certain bodies of water and requires permits for construction projects. 

The office of Senate co-author Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, said the change would still mean, for example, the DNR could not designate all of Lake Winnebago an Area of Special Natural Resource. Instead, that designation would be limited to the lake's most sensitive areas. 

Sen. Rob Cowles, who co-authored the legislation as chair of the Natural Resources and Energy, said many of the provisions were pulled because there was not enough time to carefully review them before the Legislature adjourns.

Both chambers have to sign off on the same version of the bill before it can head to the guv's desk.

UPDATE: The Senate has expunged the voice vote and conducted a roll call on the bill. That resulted in a 19-13 party-line vote in favor of the legislation. Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd, D-Milwaukee, is not in the chamber.


 4:42 PM 

Nygren's HOPE agenda bills sail through Assembly

The Assembly has unanimously passed five bills that are the next installments of Rep. John Nygren’s Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education agenda.

The Marinette Republican’s AB 657, 658, 659, 660 and 766 would: increase spending on treatment and diversion programs; criminalize masking agents; establish requirements for the regulation of opioid-treatment programs; change the authority of certain credentialing boards; and set up review and reporting requirements for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.


 3:59 PM 

Construction preference bill clears Assembly

The Assembly has OK’d via voice vote a bill that would require Wisconsin mirror nearby states’ residency requirements for contractors bidding on public construction projects.

Rep. Joel Kitchens’ bill would have the state use the same hiring requirements for contractors from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan as those states have for builders. Under Michigan law, for example, any contractors bidding for work there must have a project workforce that is 50 percent Michigan residents, according to the Sturgeon Bay Republican’s office.

His bill, in turn, would require Michigan contractors have 50 percent Wisconsin residents for projects in the state.

Wisconsin, according to Kitchens’ office, would enforce his proposal only when other states enforce theirs. Illinois, for instance, requires 90 percent state residents on projects there when unemployment reaches 5 percent for two consecutive months. When that law is in effect in Illinois, Wisconsin would match it under the proposal.

The bill would apply to only construction projects that use state money. The proposal focuses on projects by the Department of Administration and local governments but does not mention DOT roadwork.


 3:41 PM 

Environment a theme in State of the Tribes speech to Legislature

Protecting the environment was among Michael Isham’s top priorities today when explaining the State of the Tribes to a joint session of the Legislature.

The chairman of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin said threats to the environment have trumped old arguments over, for instance, “who gets to harvest which fish.” He highlighted, in particular, a GOP bill that would overhaul many of the state’s navigable water regulations.

“This is why LCO and other Tribes strongly oppose measures like AB 600,” Isham said, “which would permit the destruction of our wetlands and our wild rice.”

The Assembly has approved that bill, but the Senate today was expected to amend it.

Isham also applauded the death of a bill that would have allowed for the potential development of effigy mounds. And he pointed out other tribal priorities related to legislative proposals.

Among them were: frac sand mining regulations; shoreland development; regulations of cranberry operations; dealing with chronic wasting disease; and regulations for concentrated animal feeding operations

“The tribes would rather fight with than battle against the state,” Isham said, “when it comes to protecting fish, maintaining clean air, maintaining clean water and supporting fully functioning ecosystems and wetlands that provide healthy natural resources for us all.”

He also called for full recognition of tribal identification cards, touching on what is lining up to be an Assembly floor debate today over local ID cards. He said tribal members have at times struggled acquiring medicine from pharmacies and permits for conceal and carry. The tribal cards also have caused problems for members who want to vote.

But Isham balanced his criticisms with examples of the state and tribes working together. For instance, he discussed the creation of Transportation Alliance for New Solutions, a public-private

Partnership that prepares Native Americans to get work in the transportation construction industry as laborers and apprentices.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, following Isham’s speech, thanked the tribes for visiting the Capitol and said he looks “forward to continuing to work on areas of mutual concern.”

See Isham's prepared remarks here.


 2:52 PM 

New amendment on tap for special needs scholarship bill

The Assembly today will replace Speaker Robin Vos' amendment to a special needs scholarship bill, the legislation's author said.

Rep. John Jagler, R-Watertown, said the Senate is expected to pass a clean version of the bill and then the Assembly will add a new amendment. He did not provide details of the amendment.

Jagler's bill, AB 751, would make several changes to the Special Needs Scholarship Program created in the most recent budget. That program lets public school children with disabilities receive financial assistance from the state to participate in school choice.

Jagler’s legislation would, among other things, let children with disabilities apply for the scholarship to attend a private school at any point during the school year.

Vos amendment would adjust the overall funding formula public schools use for voucher students. Under the Rochester Republican's proposal those students would be counted on a three-year rolling average the way other students are counted. Those counts affect school districts’ revenue limit authority.


 1:48 PM 

Dems target college affordability package, Lincoln Hills problems

Dems today took aim at the GOP college affordability package and said they intend to call for an audit of the Corrections Department in light of allegations of assault at a youth prison.

The six-bill college package on the Assembly's calendar, Dems said before the floor period today, does little in light of cuts to education in past years. Rep. Dana Wachs said the Republican bills are of no "consequence whatsoever."

"Now at the last moment during an election year," the Eau Claire Dem said, "they're throwing crumbs at the problem they created."

The alleged assaults at the Lincoln Hills youth prison also topped the Dem agenda for the floor period today. Rep. Katrina Shankland said Dems will introduce a resolution calling for an audit of Corrections and oversight hearings related to those allegations.

Shankland also took a shot at Gov. Scott Walker in relation to the problems at Lincoln Hills.

"We're disappointed the governor has allowed the buck to fly over his head," the Stevens Point Dem said.


 11:40 AM 

Senate approves bill regulating combat sports

The Senate approved via voice legislation extending current regulations of professional mixed martial arts to all combat sports.

State law regulates boxing and mixed martial arts, but not kickboxing as a standalone sport. SB 599 was introduced after an amateur kickboxer in Milwaukee died in a match.

UPDATE: The Assembly passed its version of the bill earlier this month, and the amended Senate bill that cleared the chamber differs slightly. It pushes back the implementation date by one month. Senate co-author Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, said the change was made at the request of the Department of Safety and Professional Services so it has time to work out administrative rules. He believes the amended Senate bill will clear the Assembly.


 4:03 PM 

Assembly OKs landlord rights bill

The landlord rights bill has cleared the Assembly on a 60-31 vote.

Several Dems thanked bill author Rep. Robert Brooks, R-Saukville, for his willingness to consider changes. Still, they tried, and failed, to amend the bill.

"There are some significant problems that still exist with this legislation," Rep. Eric Genrich, D-Green Bay, said.

Dems argued, among other things, the bill weakens local control and creates the risk that crime victims could be evicted when those crimes occur in their rentals.

Brooks, in his closing comments, noted that many concerns, such as those for crime victims, were handled in the sub for the bill. But he kept his comments brief, noting Dems want to attend the Democratic presidential debate in Milwaukee tonight.

"Smile more, talk less and when you have the votes, shut up," Brooks said.


 3:29 PM 

On to the landlord rights bill

Some Dem lawmakers, including Cory Mason, of Kenosha, and Andy Jorgensen, of Milton have recused themselves from a vote on the landlord rights bill because they say they own rental properties.

The bill, AB 568, would overhaul landlord rights, local regulations pertaining to rental properties and the process for creating a historic preservation district. The bill has a proposed sub and amendment.

The amended bill that cleared committee would, among other things, let landlords file to evict tenants for criminal activity, such as the manufacture and distribution of controlled substances. The sub differs from the original by excluding possession from that definition, though both versions would allow eviction regardless of whether there was an arrest or a conviction.

The sub also sets restrictions on rental unit inspections.

The sub's provision dealing with historic preservation districts originally would have allowed their creation only after residents in the targeted area were notified, had an opportunity to vote and passed it with a two-thirds majority. The amendment approved would require a public hearing and that residents are notified of the proposal by mail. Under the amendment, residents could appeal to the local governing body any decisions by the historic preservation board. That body then would need a simple majority to uphold the appeal. 


 2:52 PM 

Planned Parenthood debate continues

Dems and Republicans keep going back to the same points in the debate over the Planned Parenthood bill.

Dems say the bill will restrict access to birth control and lead to more abortions. They question the constitutionality of a bill targeting one organization.

"You're turning away women from services they need," Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, said.

But Republicans have emphasized the bill is about preventing fraud. They say Planned Parenthood acknowledged the fraud by saying the bill would cost the organization about $4 million per year.

The bill, Rep. Jesse Kremer said, would ensure the organization doesn't "abuse" Medicaid's 340B program and Wisconsin's taxpayers don't get "soaked" by Planned Parenthood.

"What part of this bill strips Planned Parenthood of contraceptives?" the Kewaskum Republican said.


 2:05 PM 

Debate starts on Planned Parenthood bill

Dems are pushing their sub that would let people with birth control prescriptions fill them for 12 months at a time.

Amendment supporters have cited statistics showing the extended prescriptions would reduce abortions 46 percent and unplanned pregnancies by 32 percent.

But Rep. Andre Jacque, author of the Assembly companion to SB 238, said he doesn't buy the argument. The De Pere Republican said his bill is designed to prevent Planned Parenthood from "bilking" taxpayers.

The amendment, he said, is beside the point.

"Really, we're not talking about an issue with access to birth control," Jacque said.



 1:57 PM 

Dems target landlord, Planned Parenthood bills

Dems went into the floor period today planning to voice their strongest opposition to a landlord rights bill and Planned Parenthood legislation.

AB 568 would overhaul landlord rights, local regulations pertaining to rental properties and the process for creating a historic preservation district.

Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said the bill is "so harmful to so many citizens in Wisconsin." Dems had amendments planned that would, for instance, protect domestic violence victims.

Dems also had a sub amendment ready for the Planned Parenthood bill. SB 238, which has Senate approval, would require groups bill Medicaid the actual cost, plus a standard dispensing fee, for birth control drugs from Medicaid’s 340B program. Doing so would cost Planned Parenthood an estimated $4 million annually.

Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, said the Dem sub would "increase access to birth control" by letting anyone with a prescription fill it for 12 months.


 1:55 PM 

Assembly passes broadband bill

The Assembly has passed a bill 81-15 that would let the PSC make a total of $6 million in broadband expansion grants in any fiscal year.

Under current law, the PSC has the $6 million but is restricted to giving out only $1.5 million in the grants each fiscal year.





 1:19 PM 

Vos defends school choice amendment

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos today defended his amendment to a special needs scholarship program bill, saying his proposal is a necessary fix to the state’s school choice funding formula.

Vos' amendment to AB 751, which is on the calendar for Tuesday, would adjust the overall funding formula so public schools count voucher students on a three-year rolling average the way other students are counted. Those counts affect school districts’ revenue limit authority.

That change, Vos has said, would correct a drafting mistake in the budget and prevent large property tax increases such as those he saw in his district. The intention all along, he has said, was for those students to be counted the same as everyone else.

Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, today said his “phone has been lighting up” with calls from superintendents who are worried about Vos' proposal.

But the Rochester Republican, speaking to reporters before the floor session today, said his amendment is a technical fix that is meant to keep property taxes down.

"All of the demagoguery that is occurring from the superintendents to say somehow it’s going to reduce their ability to raise property taxes, well that’s the point," he said. "We don’t want to have property tax increases, especially ones where they would be allowed to count students in a significantly different way than the way they count students who are going to a different public school."

Vos said he's pushing the proposal as an amendment rather than separate legislation because "we’re at the end of the legislative session."


 12:57 PM 

Packed calendar for floor session Tuesday

The finalized calendar for the Assembly’s floor period Tuesday includes more than 100 bills, including the GOP’s college affordability package and legislation dealing with "sanctuary cities."

The Rules Committee today agreed to a floor period for Tuesday that starts at 1 p.m. and ends at 1 a.m. Wednesday. The Assembly then would reconvene at 8 a.m. Wednesday and adjourn at noon.

Several bills on the calendar are expected to generate heavy debate, including the amended AB 450, which would allow cities, towns or villages to let employees, such as law enforcement personnel, ask people about their immigration status after they’ve been charged with a crime.

The calendar also includes:

*AB 533, which would establish criminal penalties for fraud in obtaining unemployment insurance;

*AB 723, which would restrict the production and use of photo ID cards by local governments;

*and AB 751, a special needs scholarship program bill that includes an amendment from Assembly Speaker Vos that would adjust the overall funding formula public schools use for school choice students.

See the calendar here.


 12:31 PM 

Vos: Local roadwork bill faces long odds

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos does not expect a bill dealing with sales tax increases for local roadwork will clear the Assembly.

Rep. Dean Knudson’s AB 210 would let counties hold referendums for half-percent sales tax increases to pay for local road maintenance and repair. The Hudson Republican’s amended proposal would let those increases remain valid for four years, but counties would need to reserve some money to distribute to local governments. The money would have to be in addition to regular road spending.

The bill was on the calendar Tuesday but never taken up. That bumped it to the calendar today, but Vos said there is disagreement on the bill within his caucus.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen,” the Rochester Republican said, adding he supports the bill because it gets more money directed toward local roads.


 9:51 PM 

Local roadwork bill on hold

The Assembly has reconvened and moved to adjournments without taking up AB 210, which would let counties institute half-percent sales tax increases to pay for roadwork.

Bill author Rep. Dean Knudson told reporters during the recess a proposed amendment to the bill would eliminate all local wheel taxes but grandfather in those that exist now. The Hudson Republican said he supports the change, particularly because, he said, wheel taxes seldom are used and do not need referendum approval.

The sales tax increase under AB 210 would require referendum approval and then would last four years. A sub amendment to the bill also requires a certain amount of money be distributed to local governments within the county and a continuation of previous spending levels on roads.

Majority Leader Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, said the bill automatically shifts to the Thursday calendar.

"We'll keep working on it," he said.


 8:35 PM 

Future uncertain for local government roadwork bill

After bumping to the end of the calendar a bill that would let local governments enact half-percent sales tax increases to pay for roadwork, GOP leaders now won't say for sure if the legislation will get a vote.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos would answer directly when Dems asked him f the bill would get a vote.

"I have every intention of really working hard to make that happen," the Rochester Republican said.

Under the amended AB 210, local governments can enact the increase for four years if they get referendum approval. Rep. Dean Knudson, R-Hudson, is the bill author.



 7:59 PM 

Assembly green lights Christmas tree bill

A Christmas tree bill has cleared the Assembly on a voice vote.

The bill, by Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, would prohibit the state or local governments from enacting rules or ordinances related to fire safety that would prevent the placement of a Christmas tree in the Capitol rotunda or a church. Essentially, the bill would create a rule that Christmas trees are not fire hazards.

The bill passed the State Affairs and Government Operations Committee on a 13-2 bipartisan vote, with two Dems opposed.


 7:57 PM 

Rules Committee sets calendar for floor period Thursday

The Assembly's calendar for the floor session Thursday includes bills aimed at Planned Parenthood and overhauling landlord rights.

The Assembly recessed briefly so the Rules Committee could finalize the calendar for Thursday. The floor period is scheduled to start at noon and end at 4 p.m.

Among the bills on the calendar is SB 238, which is aimed at raising the costs of birth control drugs Planned Parenthood receives through Medicaid. The bill's Republican authors are Sen. Chris Kapenga, of Delafield, and Rep. Andre Jacque, of De Pere.

The legislation, which passed the Senate 19-14 along party lines, would require groups dispensing drugs through Medicaid's 340B program bill for the actual cost, plus a standard dispensing fee, for the drugs. Doing so would cost Planned Parenthood an estimated $4 million annually.

AB 568 would, among other things, overhaul landlord rights, local regulations pertaining to rental properties and the process for creating a historic preservation district. The bill by Rep. Robert Brooks, R-Saukville, cleared an Assembly committee 5-2.

But Senate companion author Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, pulled his version from an exec last month because, he said, he didn't have the votes.

See the finalized calendar here.

The Rules Committee will meet again Thursday morning to finalize the calendar for the floor session Tuesday.


 7:39 PM 

Jarchow's water bill clears Assembly

Despite strong Dem opposition, the Assembly has passed a bill 57-39 that overhauls several areas of state law governing bodies of water.

Four Republicans joined Dems in voting against the bill. They are: Reps. Al Ott, of Forest Junction; Todd Novak, of Dodgeville; John Murtha, of Baldwin; and Joel Kitchens, of Sturgeon Bay.

Dems called the bill "dangerous" and "the worst bill for the environment in this session." Rep. Cory Mason summed up the Dem opposition.

"This is sort of like Act 10 for Wisconsin lakes," the Racine Dem said.

Rep. Adam Jarchow said he appreciated the "good, rigorous debate" from both sides of the aisle on his AB 600. He emphasized all of the amendments the bill took on and all of the conversations he had with conservation groups.

"We are all here," the Balsam Lake Republican said, "and we are all responsible for taking care of our natural resources."

The bill's sub amendment was amended further on the floor. Jarchow's legislation includes provisions such as:

*clarifying the definition of navigable waters as it relates to man-made ditches and storm water control structures. Under the sub, roadside ditches used by fish to reach their spawning areas still would be considered navigable waters.

*changing the ways Areas of Special Natural Resource Interest are designated. The Department of Natural Resources now identifies those areas, but the bill would require approval by the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules. The sub, though, would provide that a number of areas of lakes keep the ASNRI designation previously assigned by the DNR. An additional amendment would delay implementation of the ASNRI until the beginning of 2017.

*creating a mechanism under which developers can get clean deeds to dry lake beds. Under the bill, any lake bed that was dry prior to Jan. 1, 1975, could be available for a clean deed in certain circumstances. But the sub makes accommodations for dry lake beds the public has been using.

*requiring the DNR issue general permits, rather than more restrictive individual permits, to
allow the removal of 30 cubic yards of material from the bed of an inland lake adjacent to an
owner's property. The sub includes conditions the DNR must add to those general permits.

The bill also was amended to delete a provision that would have required the DNR secretary give "substantial weight" to local findings when determining the level and flow of water in an inland lake.

GOP supporters of the bill praised Jarchow for his work. Some, such as Rep. Dave Craig, of Big Bend, talked about the importance of the dredging provision. Others, such as Rep. Michael Schraa, of Oshkosh, said it's time for the state to loosen the ASNRI designations.

And Rep. John Nygren used the Dem theme of eroding local control to make his argument.

"Ultimate local control is the property owner," the Marinette Republican said, "not local government."

But Rep. Nick Milroy said the legislation shows a basic misunderstanding of the habitats within lakes. It's why, the South Range Dem said, the bill is so dangerous.

"Spare me the stupidity," he said, "and start listening to people who know what they're talking about."

See the roll call here.






 7:31 PM 

Senate continues to debate voting bill

The Senate continues to debate legislation that would allow voters to register electronically.

Dems slammed SB 295, saying it would restrict the right to vote by moving up the deadline for absentee ballots and getting rid of special deputies who can be OK’d by local election clerks to spearhead registration drives.

Absentee ballots are now due to the clerk’s office the Friday after Election Day if postmarked by the Friday after the election. But the legislation would move that up to 8 p.m. on Election Day. The bill also would disqualify an absentee ballot if it was missing the address of the witness.

Sen. Janet Bewley, D-Ashland, noted changes at the U.S. Postal Service that in particular have impacted rural communities. Her mail, for example, is shipped to the Twin Cities and then rerouted back to Wisconsin. 

She said some voters under the bill may go to the Post Office on the Friday before an election thinking they have plenty of time for their ballot to be turned in only to find out a delay disqualified their both. She questioned what the harm was of keeping the current deadline and suggested the aim of the legislation was to narrow the opportunity to vote.

“Isn’t the object of the game to get everybody to vote?” Bewley asked. “I truly believe the intent of this bill is to narrow opportunities, and that shouldn’t be what we’re about.”

Dems complained bitterly about the bill, including Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, suggesting Republicans were pushing it because they can’t win a fair election after dividing the state so badly.

But Republicans said that was an overreaction, particularly over the special registration deputies.

Under the bill, the GAB would have to maintain a secure online registration form. Those registering online would not have to provide proof of residence if their name, date of birth, and driver’s license or state ID card number can be matched with DOT records. Electronic registration would close at midnight on the third Wednesday before an election.

Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said that provision makes the registration deputies obsolete because it would allow anyone with a smart phone to register someone by allowing them to get on the GAB site and input their information.

“I’m amazed we’re getting this much discussion when all you’re doing is changing how registration will happen,” Fitzgerald said. “You’re not changing who or whether they can be registered. We’re not making it more difficult, but certainly we are being asked by both parties at the national level to adapt to the new technologies. That’s what this whole discussion is about.”

Other provisions include allowing federally issued veterans ID cards be used to meet the requirements of voter ID and requiring voters to re-register when they change names or addresses. Now, those registrations transfer. 

The bill also would create a new system for collecting results on Election Night. County clerks would have to post all results to their sites no later than two hours after receiving them. The GAB also would have to provide a link on its site to those returns.


 5:43 PM 

Assembly begins debate on navigable waters bill

The Assembly has begun debating a bill that would overhaul portions of the state’s laws governing bodies of water.

Among the state law changes proposed under the amended AB 600, authored by Rep. Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake, are:

*clarifying the definition of navigable waters as it relates to man-made ditches and storm water control structures. Under the sub, roadside ditches used by fish to reach their spawning areas still would be considered navigable waters.

*changing the ways Areas of Special Natural Resource Interest are designated. The Department of Natural Resources now identifies those areas, but the bill would require approval by the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules. The sub, though, would provide that a number of areas of lakes keep the ASNRI designation previously assigned by the DNR.

*creating a mechanism under which developers can get clean deeds to dry lake beds. Under the bill, any lake bed that was dry prior to Jan. 1, 1975, could be available for a clean deed in certain circumstances. But the sub makes accommodations for dry lake beds the public has been using.

*requiring the DNR issue general permits, rather than more restrictive individual permits, to allow the removal of 30 cubic yards of material from the bed of an inland lake adjacent to an owner's property. The sub includes conditions the DNR must add to those general permits.

The bill passed the Assembly’s Environment and Forestry Committee 8-5 along party lines.


 5:33 PM 

Assembly passes amended shoreland zoning bill

The Assembly, on a 56-39 vote, passed a bill that would make several changes to property rights and shoreland zoning.

AB 582 by Rep. Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake, was amended to make several changes to the original bill. But the Assembly voted down two amendments from Rep. Leon Young, D-Milwaukee, on 63-34 votes.

The amended version of the bill eliminates a provision from the original bill that would have established new “vested rights,” under which local zoning laws are frozen at a certain point when a developer applies for permits.

Other provisions under the sub include:

*clarifying that land platted and zoned for residential, commercial or manufacturing is assessed at its unimproved value until a building permit is issued, except in certain circumstances involving TIF districts.

*requiring a two-thirds vote from the governing board to down-zone a property, essentially allowing fewer uses on the land. The original bill called for approval by 75 percent of the board.

*requiring municipalities provide to those who request it an annual publication of zoning changes.
*prohibiting the Department of Natural Resources or other authorities from preventing flat roofs on boathouses.

*allowing plaintiffs to substitute the judge in contested case hearings.

*letting a licensed surveyor determine the ordinary high-water mark on shoreland properties. The bill passed the Assembly’s Housing Committee 5-2 along party lines.


 5:24 PM 

Assembly approves zoning bill on 62-35 vote

The Assembly cleared a bill to let Dane County towns opt out of the county’s zoning ordinance on a 62-35 vote.

Dems from Dane County continued to slam the bill, with Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, telling her GOP colleagues to “worry about your own counties.” She also said the bill would lead to “fragmented decisions” that vary across the county.

“How does that help developers?” she asked. “I don’t get it.”

But Rep. John Jagler, R-Watertown, whose district includes Dane County, pushed back against the local control argument, saying Dems aren’t considering towns’ wishes.

“That’s fine when you’re talking about the counties, apparently, but when you’re talking about the towns, then there is no local control,” he said.


 5:19 PM 

Senate approves changes to managed forest land program

The Senate approved 20-11 several changes to the state’s Managed Forest Land program.

Under the program, landowners sign up and agree to forestry management practices and plans to log timber. They also pay fees, in lieu of property taxes, that are less than what they would have been taxed. Current law requires those property owners reserve no more than 160 acres as closed, or private, while the rest is kept open for public recreational use.

Among other things, the amended would double the 160-acre cap for nonindustrial landowners to 320, rather than the original proposal to eliminate the cap.

Other provisions include: 

*ensuring property owners are signing a contract when entering the program and can withdraw if they do not agree with changes; 

*allowing owners lease out their closed land for recreational use; 

*increasing the minimum acreage requirement from 10 to 20; 

*allowing landowners remove as many as 5 acres from the program to build a residence; 

*directing that the closed-acreage fees go to the parcel's county and municipality or town rather than to the DNR, as current law requires. That provision is coupled with an end to the timber harvest yield taxes local governments now receive. 

Dems Janet Bewley of Ashland and Julie Lassa of Stevens Point joined Republicans in backing the legislation.


 4:55 PM 

Debate shifts to Dane County zoning bill

The Assembly is taking up a GOP bill that would let Dane County towns opt out of the countywide zoning ordinance during certain periods.

And Dems such as Rep. Terese Berceau, of Madison, are arguing the bill is another example of Republicans taking away local control.

"Why stick it to Dane County and the city of Madison?" she asked. "Well, first of all, because we know you can."

Rep. Keith Ripp’s AB 563, which was amended in committee, would require those that opt out adopt either a zoning ordinance identical to the county's or a model developed by all towns that have backed out of Dane County's zoning.

The Lodi Republican’s amendments to the bill include one dealing with how farmland preservation zoning is handled and another requiring the opt out must be approved at an annual town meeting or through a referendum.

A Senate companion, by Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, cleared committee this month and is awaiting scheduling.


 4:46 PM 

Sexually violent person placement bill clears Assembly

The Assembly has passed a bill 64-34 dealing with residency requirements for sexually violent people.

Dem Rep. Frederick Kessler, of Milwaukee, joined Republicans in voting in favor.

The amended bill by Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, includes several guidelines for placement. Those include certain distance restrictions, such as not within 1,500 feet of schools, child care operations, public parks, churches or youth centers. The bill, among other things, also sets certain limitations on local sex offender registry requirements, one of the provisions that raised Dem objections.

Rep. Peter Barca tried and failed to refer the bill to the Children and Families Committee. The Kenosha Dem said a topic of such importance requires the Legislature “exercise due caution.”

“This bill has real-world implications,” he said. “I shudder to think that we might victimize someone again.”

Born, though, said the bill and sub amendment are about public safety and finding a reasonable way to return offenders to their counties of origin. He said even sexually violent offenders have constitutional protections, and lawmakers are obliged to uphold them.

“If it was just my preference,” Born said, “we’d never let these people out.”


 3:52 PM 

Senate votes to expand tech education teaching license to vocational topics

The state would expand the new experience-based licensure process for teaching technical education to vocational topics under legislation the Senate approved 19-13 along party lines today.

The technical education license was created in the state budget last year to draw in more avenues to teach those subjects in Wisconsin high schools. The bill would do the same for teaching agriculture, child services, clothing services, food services, housing and equipment services, family and consumer education, family and consumer services, home economics-related occupations, health care-related occupations, business education, and marketing education.

Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, said the bill was nothing more than a “smokescreen” to cover up that schools are dropping agriculture education because districts can’t afford teachers after the state had “cut the hell out of the budgets.” She said being an expert in a field does not make someone qualified to teach and children need to learn critical thinking, not just memorize formulas.

“The only way someone could help a child do that is if they’ve studied not only the subject matter, but the process of learning,” she said.

Republicans countered the bill does not require districts to hire those who qualified to teach those vocational topics, but gives them that option. 

Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, said lawmakers should trust local officials to decide what is best for their students. Those who would be hired to teach these topics, he said, have made a living training others in these fields.

“I’m comfortable with local control and they will make the right decision and right hires to put these people in our classrooms to provide the education needs our kids very badly need in the state of Wisconsin,” he said.


: See newer blog items : : See older blog items :

Quorum Call site feed
Advertisement
Advertisement

wispolitics.com Social News

Follow Us

ABOUT THE BLOG

WisPolitics coverage of news from the Wisconsin Legislature.

BLOG CONTRIBUTORS
Editor: JR Ross
Reporters: Chris Thompson, David Wise

LINKS
· Quorum Call site feed
· Quorum Call on Twitter

LEGISLATIVE LINKS

SESSION INFO
· InSession: Senate | Assembly
· Audio/video coverage
· Session calendar

SEARCH
· Bill database
· Lobbying information
· Notification service

LEGISLATORS
· Download a printable directory
· Leadership rosters
· New faces in 2013
· Find your legislator
· Senate home pages
· Assembly home pages

ARCHIVE

· December 2009
· January 2010
· February 2010
· March 2010
· April 2010
· December 2010
· January 2011
· February 2011
· April 2011
· May 2011
· June 2011
· July 2011
· August 2011
· September 2011
· October 2011
· November 2011
· January 2012
· February 2012
· March 2012
· July 2012
· November 2012
· December 2012
· January 2013
· February 2013
· March 2013
· April 2013
· May 2013
· June 2013
· September 2013
· October 2013
· November 2013
· December 2013
· January 2014
· February 2014
· March 2014
· April 2014
· June 2014
· November 2014
· December 2014
· January 2015
· February 2015
· March 2015
· April 2015
· May 2015
· June 2015
· July 2015
· September 2015
· October 2015
· November 2015
· January 2016
· February 2016
· March 2016
· November 2016
· December 2016
· January 2017
· February 2017
Copyright ©2012 WisPolitics.com All rights reserved. | WisOpinion.com | WisBusiness.com  |  Website development by wisnet.com LLC  | Website design by Makin’ Hey Communications