Olsen Bills Signed Into Law

On July 1st, Governor Scott Walker signed into law five bills that I authored or led through the legislative process in the Senate. These bills range from ways to improve outcomes in schools and protect students to fixing a bill that was passed last session to helping local governments. Here is a look at these bills.

Assembly Bill 33 fixes a problem with legislation that was enacted last session. This bill concerns cooperative agreements between in-state real estate agents and out-of-state real estate agents. It allows the Real Estate Examining Board (REEB) to develop a form for these cooperative agreements without going through the rule-making process. Under the previously passed law, REEB was required to write a rule and create a form to allow these cooperation agreements. They were not permitted to begin working on the rule until the law went in to effect, which was January 1st of this year, delaying these agreements.

Assembly Bill 37 (AB 37) protects students in our schools against food-borne illnesses. 125 million meals are served to Wisconsin students each school year making the risk for food-borne illness a real concern.  Under current law, while restaurants are required to have at least one person on staff that holds a food protection certificate issued by the Department of Health Services, schools are not. AB 37 requires that any school district or private school that participates in the National School Lunch Program have at least one person on staff that holds a food protection certificate.

Senate Bill 32 (SB 32) is a result of the work done last summer and fall by the Joint Legislative Council Study Committee on the SAGE Program, which I served as the Chair. The goal of SAGE has always been to reduce the achievement gap amongst Wisconsin’s low-income students. After studying this issue, our committee believed that it was important to provide additional flexibilities for schools that currently participate in the SAGE program. Schools in the existing program will be able to continue using these funds to reduce class sizes, but they will also have the choice to provide instructional coaches and one-on-one tutoring. As a result, this bill allows schools to use additional evidence-based instructional alternatives to reduce the achievement gap among their students. Only schools that are currently participating in the SAGE program will be eligible, and like the current SAGE program, schools would enter into a five-year contract with DPI.

Senate Bill 94 is a bill I introduced to update standards for seasonal camping units, which are in a fixed location within a campground permitted by the Department of Health Services (DHS). The bill was introduced at the request of constituents who have encountered regulatory challenges because seasonally operated cabins are regulated in the same way as single family homes that are occupied year-round. The bill would require the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) to promulgate separate dwelling, electrical, and plumbing code standards for these camping units. I appreciated working with Representative Keith Ripp (R-Lodi) on addressing this issue.

Finally, Assembly Bill 82 (AB 82) will fix conflicting language in the guidelines for the duties of the register of deeds and change the law so it will reflect new technology. Under current law, state statute outlines the duties of the register of deeds. They are tasked with filling, indexing, and updating various county records in each of Wisconsin's 72 counties. However, many of the current laws are out-of-date and require cleanup. AB 82 will help update these laws and improve the register of deed's efficiency. I would like to thank Green Lake County’s Register of Deeds, Sarah Guenther, for bringing this issue to my attention.

These new laws will have an impact on the state by providing additional flexibilities for our schools, helping remove government red tape, and making it easier to do business in our great state. I appreciated the opportunity to work with several constituents on these legislative efforts.

If you have any questions about any of the information I have included or if you have suggestions on other topics or issues you would like learn more about, you may call my office toll-free at (800) 991-5541; write me at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI  53708; or e-mail me at: Sen.Olsen@legis.state.wi.us. You can also sign up for our newsletter at our website: http://www.legis.state.wi.us/senate/sen14/news/index.htm.