State Senate Adjourns for 2016 Without Acting on Some High-Profile Education Bills

The state Senate adjourned for the 2015-16 session following a late-night on the floor Tuesday (March 15). Earlier, the state Assembly adjourned for the session on Feb. 18.

In order to become law, bills must pass both houses of the Legislature in identical form, and then be signed by the governor.

Among the bills affecting K-12 education that were not passed by both houses in identical form, and are thus officially dead for this session, are:

  • Assembly Bill 481/Senate Bill 355 , which would have imposed restrictions on the scheduling of school referendums and the use of certain types of borrowing by school districts. Under those bills, unless a school board experiences a natural disaster or fire, it could only schedule a referendum vote at a spring or general election. If a referendum vote fails or if school district electors block a borrowing attempt, the district would be prohibited from trying again for at least a year. The WASB opposed these bills. (See previous post.)

  • Assembly Bill 517/Senate Bill 470 , which would have imposed a statewide mandate on high schools to report certain crime-related incidents to the DPI, beginning in 2017-18. Private voucher high schools and independent charter high schools would have been subject to the same requirement under the bill. The WASB opposed these bills. (See previous post.)
  • Assembly Bill 846/Senate Bill 589, which would have permitted a person who has a license to carry a concealed weapon (CCW licensees) to possess a firearm on the grounds of a school and to possess a firearm in a building on the grounds of a school where instruction is provided unless the school board posts signs at all entrances that notify the licensee not to enter or remain in the building while possessing a firearm. Under current state law, CCW licensees may not carry firearms in or on school grounds. The WASB opposed these bills. (See previous post.)
  • Assembly Bill 239, which would have required a school board, upon parental request, to excuse a student enrolled in grades 3 through 12 from taking any examination required under state or federal law, except an exam required for high school graduation (e.g., civics exam). The bill would prohibit DPI from considering students that opt-out of required testing when calculating school report cards.   This bill would also have require schools to provide parents or guardians with a series of cumbersome notifications. The WASB was neutral on this bill but expressed strong concerns about the burden it would have imposed on districts. (See previous post.)
  • Assembly Bill 873, which would have required the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) to be subject to the state’s public records and open meetings laws. The WASB did not take a position on this bill, but has opposed related legislation in past sessions.

While we expect similar versions of each of these bills will be reintroduced in the 2017-18 legislative session, we do not anticipate legislators will be back in floor session to take up any new or additional legislation until January 3, 2017, when the 103rd Wisconsin State Legislature convenes for Inauguration Day.