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Interview with Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, Assembly education committee chair

Interview with Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, Assembly education committee chair

Earlier this week I conducted a brief interview with Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Education, to get his thoughts on the governor’s budget proposal for schools and a couple other K-12 bills he has authored this session. Key takeaways include the impact that federal COVID relief funding will have on the willingness of legislators to agree to state funding increases for schools and the high level of interest in providing funding based on in-person instruction.

You can watch the full conversation below: (more…)

Governor signs bill providing COVID liability protections for schools into law

Governor Evers signed January 2021 Special Session Senate Bill 1 into law this morning (2/25) as 2021 Wisconsin Act 4.  This new law would, among other things, provide businesses, schools and governments with liability protections from COVID-related lawsuits, waive a one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits through mid-March and begin the long overdue process of overhauling the state’s 50-year-old Unemployment Insurance computer system.

The governor’s action came after the state Assembly gave unanimously (89-0) approval to the bill earlier this week. The state Senate last week approved the bill by a 27-3 margin. (more…)

Senate education committee public hearing next week

Senate education committee public hearing next week

The state Senate Committee on Education, chaired by Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, February 23 at 10:30 am in room 411 South of the State Capitol. The committee will consider several appointments and receive public testimony on the following bills:

Senate Bill 39 (Sen. Stroebel) The bill allows a pupil who attends a virtual charter school to participate in interscholastic athletics and extracurricular activities in the pupil’s resident school district. (more…)

State Senate passes bill modernizing the publication of meeting minutes on a bipartisan vote

State Senate passes bill modernizing the publication of meeting minutes on a bipartisan vote

Today (2/16/21) the state Senate approved Senate Bill 55 on a bipartisan vote. The bill would modernize the publication of minutes (proceedings) of meetings held by school boards and other governmental bodies. The WASB supports this bill based on our member-approved resolutions and commends Sen. Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac) and Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) for authoring the bill.

For more on the bill and the WASB’s position see this previous post.

Action now moves to the Assembly where the companion bill (Assembly Bill 60) has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Local Government, chaired by Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville). No notices for a public hearing have been released as of this writing. The bill must still pass the Assembly and be signed by Gov. Evers to become law.

 

JFC directs $65 million in federal funds to districts in proportion to hours of in-person instruction

JFC directs $65 million in federal funds to districts in proportion to hours of in-person instruction

In what may well be an harbinger of a potentially contentious budget struggle over public school funding, the powerful GOP-led Joint Finance Committee (JFC) yesterday voted down, along party lines, a DPI plan to equitably distribute roughly $65 million in federal Coronavirus relief funds to schools (see previous blog post) and replace it with a plan that directs the funding to districts based on the extent to which they are providing in-person instruction.

Wisconsin state statute gives the JFC authority to review and object to the distribution of federal funds by the DPI if they reflect an increase of 5 percent or more above the federal funds indicated in the Chapter 20 appropriations schedule. No vote of the full Legislature nor approval by the governor is required.  

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