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Amended legislation to delay reading screener/allow CESAs to provide literacy training appears stalled in Assembly

The Senate will be holding a full chamber session today (February 20th) to vote on numerous bills, including several that directly affect K-12 education. The chamber will be mirroring much of the Assembly’s action that is planned for later in the day. While the Senate is expected to meet a few more times into mid-March, the Assembly will be meeting for the final time on Thursday (February 22nd). This means that any action taken today by the Senate, that has not previously been approved by the Assembly, will face tough odds of making it to the governor’s desk.

One of the bills that is up on the Senate floor calendar (Senate Bill 990) would allow CESAs to provide early literacy training required as part of 2023 Act 20. This bill had an amendment added that makes the first administration of the new statewide reading screener in the 2024-25 school year optional so schools have enough time to train staff, set up IT and other prep work. It had come to our attention from multiple school administrators that there is strong concern and uncertainty in the timeline for acquisition of the statewide screener and whether there will be sufficient time for schools to implement it in time for the 2024-25 school year. This amendment is needed to make the timeline more manageable and increase the likelihood for successful implementation of the new statewide reading screener. 

Since the Assembly will be wrapping up their work for the 2023-24 legislative session, it is very important that the Assembly Bill 1069 (Assembly companion to SB 990 with identical language/amendment) make it to the Assembly floor this week. It is currently not noticed for Tuesday or Thursday. It is our understanding that vendors are objecting to CESAs being allowed to compete with them to provide training to schools on early literacy. If you share these concerns and support this amended bill, it is vitally important to contact your state Assembly Rep. ASAP.

Other education bills being voted on in the Senate today are below. Read the WASB’s previous blog post for more information on the Assembly session. (more…)

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…)

Assembly to hold session on Feb. 15 and 20, Senate Education Committee will vote on proposals today

Capitol Rotunda ImageThe business before the end of session continues this week with the announcement of two Assembly floor sessions and a Senate Education Committee executive session. Education focused proposals will take up a large portion of the Assembly agenda in the coming days. The chamber is set to take up the legislative packages for the Task Forces on Human Trafficking, Childhood Obesity, and Truancy in K-12 Education. Also on the docket are several curricular mandates, teacher licensing pathway changes, a grant program for threat detection software, private choice/independent charter school funding and regulation, and school accountability issues including introducing bidding thresholds for schools.

Today in anticipation of the final Senate sessions, the Senate Education Committee will be voting on the proposals it heard testimony on last week in its public hearing. Read below to find more information on the bills receiving action this week. (more…)

Capitol Watch: Both houses in floor session, Assembly education committee will vote on proposals

With the clock ticking on the legislative session, lawmakers in Madison will meet for a busy week as they hold votes on their final policy initiatives before adjourning. K-12 education issues will take a central focus this week, with the Senate voting tomorrow on 6 bills previously heard by the Senate Education Committee. The Assembly Education Committee will also be meeting tomorrow to vote on the bills the committee heard testimony on last week. It is expected that the Assembly will also be convening at the end of next week. This means the bills recommended for passage by the committee tomorrow, will likely form the bulk of the chambers remaining education-focused action.

Read below to see the bills set to see action this week. As always, please reach out to the Government Relations Team if you have any questions. (more…)