March 16, 2018

This week tens of thousands of students across the country walked out of class to protest gun violence in schools across America. Several thousand students from around the state surrounded the Capitol in Madison, fervently asking lawmakers to pass commonsense gun reform to protect classrooms. 

Just one day after the student protests, Gov. Walker released his "school safety" proposal. The proposal all but ignores the pleas from Wisconsin students who want safe schools. There is nothing in Walker's plan to address the issue of keeping deadly firearms out of the wrong hands by strengthening our background check system. The proposal doesn’t give schools the flexibility to improve safety and it doesn’t stop domestic abusers from getting their hands on deadly firearms. Failing to address the most pressing gun safety issues facing our students, families and communities will only lead to more tragedies.

Democrats have offered a number of commonsense reforms that protect the second amendment for law abiding citizens, while promoting legislation that would keep firearms out of the hands of those who would be potentially harmful. 

What Democrats Are Saying

​ Democratic Proposals

LRB5633 Counselor Grants (Reps. Pope, Bowen, Genrich, Hebl, Considine, Vruwink, Sens. Bewley, Larson, Johnson) would increase categorical aid funding from $3 million to $20 million to expand and extend aid to allow schools to hire more counselors, school social workers, school psychologists and school nurses.

LRB5667 Violent Misdemeanant firearm restriction (Sen. Johnson, Rep. Bowen, Taylor) would prohibit a person from possessing a firearm if the person was convicted of a violent misdemeanor or found not guilty of a violent misdemeanor by reason of mental disease or defect. The prohibition would be for ten years following the most recent conviction, finding, or adjudication.

LRB5634 Community Mental Health Grant (Reps. Pope, Bowen, Genrich, Hebl, Considine, Vruwink, Sens. Bewley, Larson, Johnson) would increase grant funding from $3.25 million to $10.25 million to support integration and co-location of community mental health services in schools.

LRB5635 Mental Health and Identification Grants (Reps. Pope, Bowen, Genrich, Hebl, Considine, Vruwink, Sens. Bewley, Larson, Johnson) would increase funding from $420,000 to $1.42 million to provide training to school district staff and instructional staff  youth mental health first aid and screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment program (SBIRT).

LRB5637 Violence Prevention and Reduction Grants (Reps. Pope, Bowen, Genrich, Hebl, Considine, Vruwink, Sens. Bewley, Larson, Johnson) would create new “Violence Prevention and Reduction” grants as a categorical aid. Grants would be provided to school districts to develop and implement programs to prevent and reduce violence in schools. 

LRB5640 School Safety Closed Session (Reps. Pope, Bowen, Genrich, Hebl, Considine, Vruwink, Sens. Bewley, Larson, Johnson) would allow a school board to go into closed session for the purpose of discussing, developing, reviewing or approving a school safety plan. School safety plans will be exempt from open records law. Under current law, school boards must meet in open session.

LRB5648 School Safety Team (Reps. Pope, Bowen, Genrich, Hebl, Considine, Vruwink, Sens. Bewley, Larson, Johnson) would require school boards and a governing body of a private school to establish a school safety team and a school safety plan. The bill would also require comprehensive security site assessments. 

LRB5655 WISH Expansion (Reps. Pope, Bowen, Genrich, Hebl, Considine, Vruwink, Sens. Bewley, Larson, Johnson) would expand Wisconsin Safe and Healthy (WISH) Schools Training and Technical Assistance Center.  Currently, this center focuses on prevention and intervention programs around alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse, mental health and school safety. 

LRB5610 Problem Gambling Month Resolution (Sen. Taylor) would designate March 2018 as Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

LRB5510 Autism Acceptance Month Resolution (Sen. Taylor) would proclaim April 2018 as Autism Acceptance Month in Wisconsin.

LRB5657 Women’s History Month (Rep. Zamarripa, Taylor) would declare March 2018 as Women’s History Month and celebrate the numerous contributions women of all backgrounds have made to Wisconsin history.

LRB566 Magazine Capacity Limit (Rep. Considine, Taylor, Sen. Johnson) would prohibit a person from selling, transporting, purchasing, transferring, lending, pledging, distributing, importing, possessing, manufacturing, or using a detachable or fixed magazine that has a capacity of more than ten rounds of ammunition for a firearm. A person who violates the prohibition is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

LRB0833 Wisconsin Violent Death Reporting System (Rep. Genrich) would increase funding for the Wisconsin violent death reporting system by $150,000 per fiscal year.

This Week in the Senate

Senate Session

The Senate did not hold a floor period this week. There will be a floor session on Tuesday, March 20 where the Senate will take up a lengthy list of bills.

There are several bills that would have negative consequences to our state including AB748, which would limit the ability for employees to seek damages for workplace discrimination; AB771, which would eliminate regulation authority from local communities for rental properties and historic properties; AB811, which would haphazardly spend millions of dollars to attract millennials that live in large cities to Wisconsin; AB963, which would extend more tax breaks to companies that already have very little tax liability after federal corporate tax cuts; and SB798, a one-time sales and use tax rebate equal to $100 for each qualifying child of an individual, this would cost the state over $122 million per year and would leave the overall state fund balance dismally low. 


Senate Committees

Senate Committee on Education 
The committee held a Public Hearing for a tour at the Data Recognition Corporation's Madison Scoring Center. 

Senate Judiciary and Public Safety
The committee held an Executive Session to vote on two Senate Bills and two Assembly Bills:

  • Senate Bill 807 would require the state to close the Lincoln Hills School and Copper Lake School by July 1, 2020, require the Department of Corrections to establish new Type 1 juvenile correctional facilities, and authorize counties to establish secured residential care centers for youth. The bill would also transfer the supervision of a juvenile under a correctional placement to the county department of human services or social services of the county in which the juvenile was adjudicated delinquent. (Passed, 3-2)

  • Senate Bill 868 would create a Class F felony for entering into a dwelling or other certain places with the intent to commit battery. Currently, it is a Class F felony to enter a dwelling with intent to steal or commit a felony therein. (Passed, 5-0)

  • Assembly Bill 111 would create a crime for intentionally conveying any threat or false information concerning an attempt to use a firearm to injure or kill a person on school property, on transportation provided by a school, or at an event sanctioned by a school. A person who is convicted of the crime is guilty of a Class I felony. (Passed, 5-0)

  • Assembly Bill 666 would create a Class H felony for having sexual contact with an animal. (Passed, 5-0)


The committee also held an Executive Session on Wednesday to vote on two items:

  • Assembly Bill 773 would make certain changes to the discovery of information in court proceedings; procedural requirements relating to class actions; consumer lawsuit lending; the statute of limitations for certain civil actions; agreements by to allow third-party audits of unclaimed property and interest rates for overdue insurance claims. (Passed, 3-2)
  • Assembly Bill 581 would allow a petitioner, if they are a victim advocate, an employee of the county court system, a legal professional, or law enforcement officer to file temporary restraining orders (TRO) in counties within 100 miles of the county seat where they live. Currently, a person may file a TRO where the person resides. (Passed, 5-0)

Senate Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism

The committee held a Public Hearing on Senate Bill 828, which would allow the city of Prescott to become a premier resort area. Premier resort area may impose a tax at a rate of 0.5 percent of the gross receipts from the sale, lease, or rental of goods or services that are subject to the general sales and use tax and are sold by tourism-related retailers.

The committee also held an Executive Session on three Senate Bills:

  • Senate Bill 637 would create a requirement that would specifically apply to rental-purchase agreements, imposes requirements on rental-purchase companies, and exempts rental-purchase companies and rental-purchase agreements from the Wisconsin Consumer Act. (Failed, 4-5)
  • Senate Bill 727 would allow a district to be created by the City of Superior or the City of Eau Claire to impose and collect a food and beverage tax, and may impose and collect a room tax at a maximum rate of 2 percent if the exposition district is approved by local voters in a general election referendum. (Passed, 6-1)
  • Senate Bill 780 would require the Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to make a grant to reimburse the costs of purchasing and installing rollover protective structures for farm tractors. (Passed, 7-0)

Senate Insurance, Financial Services, Constitution and Federalism

The committee held an Executive Session on four bills:

  • Senate Bill 555 / Assembly Bill 469 would make various changes to state law relating to the disposal of personal property stored in a self-service storage facility or self-service storage unit and to towing a vehicle stored in a facility or unit. This bill would also authorize the sale of self-service storage insurance. (Passed, 5-0)
  • Senate Bill 97 would establish a health insurance benefit and loan program for the surviving spouses and dependent children of law enforcement officers and fire fighters employed by the state who die in the line of duty. (Passed, 5-0)
  • Senate Bill 806 would allow the establishment of employer groups to jointly provide health care benefits on a self-funded basis to the employers' eligible employees and their dependents under a health care benefit arrangement. (Passed, 3-2)

Senate Universities and Technical Colleges
The committee held an Executive Session on four executive appointments. Jon Hammes to serve on the board of trustees of the Medical College of Wisconsin and Gerald Whitburn, Cris Paterson and Jason Plante to the UW system Board of Regents.  

This Week in the Assembly

Assembly Session

The assembly concluded its regular floor period for the legislative session. There are no other scheduled floor sessions at this time. 

Assembly Committees

The Assembly did not hold any committee meetings this week. 
Next Week in the Legislature

Senate Committees

There are no committee meetings scheduled at this time. 

Assembly Committees

 There are no committee meetings scheduled at this time. 

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 To view updated committee notices, visit the legislative website and click on Committee Schedule: Wisconsin State Legislature.

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