ALERT: Support WASB-Initiated Bipartisan Bill to Modernize Publishing of Meeting Proceedings

thiesfeldtAssembly Education Committee chairman, state Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac, pictured), Rep. Jason Fields (D-Milwaukee), Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) and Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) are asking fellow lawmakers to sign on to a proposal to update and modernize the requirement for government entities to publish meeting proceedings (minutes) in local newspapers.  This proposal could save many school districts thousands of dollars a year in publishing costs. We encourage you to contact your legislator and ask them to sign on as a co-author of LRB 0506 – publication of minutes. The deadline is February 7.

The WASB worked with Rep. Thiesfeldt’s office to develop the proposal based on Resolution 1.60 approved by the 2016 Delegate Assembly:

1.60 Elimination/Reduction of Newspaper Notice/Publishing Requirements The WASB supports legislation allowing school districts to publish statutorily-required notices electronically on the school district website and other social media maintained by the school district in lieu of publishing these notices in newspapers. (2016-13)

The proposed bill will allow school districts, municipalities, counties, and technical colleges to satisfy the legal requirements to publish board meeting proceedings by posting them on a website and one public place. Current law generally requires school board meeting proceedings to be placed in the local newspaper at a cost to the district if a newspaper is published within the school district boundaries. Proceedings are the records of previously conducted business meetings of legislative bodies.

The bill would not change current law requirements that notice of all upcoming meetings of a governmental body shall be given as required by law.  Thus, notices such  as annual meeting notices, election-related notices and and other legal notices that are currently required to be published in the newspaper would continue to be required to be published in a newspaper. Interestingly, the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Public Schools, and most townships are already exempt from this requirement to publish proceedings in newspapers.

This bill does not prevent a governing board from continuing to pay to publish meeting proceedings in the local newspaper if it wishes. If no website is available, minutes must continue to be published as the law currently requires.

This bill provides more local control and decision-making and we encourage you to contact your legislators and urge them to sign up as co-authors of this bill.

Along with WASB, the bill is supported by Wisconsin Counties Association, Wisconsin Technical College District Boards Association, School Administrators Alliance, Wisconsin League of Municipalities, Dane County Cities’ & Villages’ Association, the Southeastern Wisconsin Schools Alliance and the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance.  The bill is strongly opposed by the newspaper industry as evidenced by the AP story linked below:

Wisconsin newspapers are pledging to fight a bipartisan effort in the state Legislature to eliminate a requirement that meeting minutes of government entities be published in local newspapers

See the memo from Rep. Thiesfeldt on the proposed bill.