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Over 1/3 of Assembly Dems are likely leaving after this session

As has been the case in recent election years, a significant number of state legislators are announcing their intention not to return next session. Some are running for other offices but many are closing the books on public life, at least for the time being. It is important to keep track of these announcements in case the legislators who represent your school districts (in whole or in part) leave office. In some cases, you may be losing a legislator with whom you have a good working relationship and you will be looking to duplicate that with a new face. In other cases, if the relationship wasn’t the best it could be, you have the opportunity to begin anew. With legislative district maps changing as well, you could be in a situation where you are getting new legislators even if they are incumbents. We plan to do more posts on the impact of redistricting on current legislators to help you navigate these changes.
This weekend, Rep. Tod Ohnstad (D-Kenosha) announced his decision to not seek re-election after the conclusion of this session. With that announcement, Wispolitics is reporting that more than a third of the Assembly Democrat caucus will be turning over next year. Democrats in the Assembly currently hold 35 seats with eleven who have publicly announced plans to not return. Two more Assembly Democrats, Reps. Lee Snodgrass (D-Appleton) and Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska) had their districts redrawn to be more favorable to Republicans. More announcements are expected and we will update that post as they are released.

Rep. Kristina Shelton, ranking member of the Assembly education committee, announces she will not seek re-election

Rep. Kristina Shelton (D) has announced that she will not seek re-election to the 90th Assembly District, which primarily represents the City of Green Bay, to spend more time with family and pursue professional opportunities outside of the state Legislature. Prior to her election to the Assembly in 2020, Shelton was a school board member for the Green Bay Area School District and a former physical education teacher. The WASB appreciated Rep. Shelton’s leadership and perspective as a former school board member. We thank her for her service as a state and local elected official.
This is noteworthy to school leaders because, as ranking member of the Assembly Committee on Education, she was the leading voice on K-12 education issues for the Assembly Democratic Caucus. It is unclear who might step into that role for the Assembly Dems as education committee members Rep. Dave Considine (D-Baraboo) is likewise not running for reelection and Rep. LaKeshia Myers (D-Milwaukee) is running in a special election for the 4th state Senate seat. Reps. Deb Andraca (D-Whitefish Bay) and Francesca Hong (D-Madison) also served as committee members this session. Committee memberships for next session won’t be announced until after the November election and likely not until early 2025.

Governor signs legislative maps into law

Democrat Governor Tony Evers today signed the legislative maps into law which were last week approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature. The new maps were drawn and previously submitted by the governor to the state Supreme Court. He approved the maps despite concerns from legislative Democrats that they could be challenged in federal court. (more…)

“Physical activity” mandate on schools barely passes out of committee after lawmaker changes vote

The end of session is a hectic time. Since time is short and things are rushed, the standard of review and vetting of legislative proposals is often limited. There are exceptions, but often these late session bills aren’t necessarily meant to become law, but rather stake out positions for lawmakers to use in their reelection platforms.

It can also be a strange time and a good example of this was the vote in the Assembly Committee on Health, Aging and Long-Term Care on Assembly Bill 1016. This bill, authored by Rep. William Penterman (R-Columbus, pictured), would mandate that public and private voucher schools offer at least 3 hours of “physical activity” per week to all students during school hours with the argument that this will help combat childhood obesity. The bill had an amendment curiously championed by Rep. Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee, pictured) recommended unanimously by the committee that removed the requirement for the “physical activity” to be offered during school hours. Then things got interesting. (more…)