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Capitol Update
By Senator Howard Marklein
March 30, 2018
Legislature Passes School Safety Funding and Juvenile Corrections Reform

The legislature recently sent several packages of legislation to Governor Scott Walker to address a number of critical issues that we are facing in Wisconsin. We sent him a package related to School Safety, a package related to Juvenile Corrections and a package that will provide a tax rebate and sales tax holiday to families in our state.
Governor Walker signed the School Safety Bill into law on Monday, March 26, 2018.  This law allocates $100 million for school safety grants and creates an Office of School Safety within the Department of Justice (DOJ) to create model practices for school safety, to compile school blueprints and geographic information and to provide training and assistance to schools.
The DOJ is tasked with designing the grant program for public, private, independent charter and tribal schools to distribute the $100 million for training, equipment and facilities upgrades. The DOJ will then make the grant awards and oversee grant fulfillment. 
The law also formally requires a school safety plan to be renewed every three years and partners the DOJ with the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to help schools design plans that must include guidelines for responding to school violence.  It prohibits a plan from containing rules that hinder law enforcement response such as requiring a staff member to contact an administrator before calling 911 or prohibiting a school staff person from reporting school violence or a threat directly to law enforcement. An on-site Safety Assessment will now be required at every school.
Many schools already conduct drills for a variety of situations, but they will now be required to perform school violence drills. Threats of violence to a school are also now part of the mandatory reporting requirement for teachers, administrators, counselors, physicians and other educational, medical and health professionals.
I am proud of our work on the School Safety package and I look forward to learning more about how our local schools will apply for these grants and utilize new services and models offered by the DOJ.  
In addition to the School Safety package, the legislature also sent a package related to juvenile corrections to Governor Walker.  This legislation is awaiting Governor Walker’s signature.
The Juvenile Corrections package closes the current juvenile corrections facilities - Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake - by January 1, 2021. The most serious juvenile offenders — those who commit crimes such as murder or first-degree sexual assault — who are currently located at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake, would be housed in new facilities overseen by the state Department of Corrections. Those who commit lesser offenses would be placed in secure residential care centers overseen by county governments with support from the state.
In order to make these changes, the Juvenile Corrections package includes initial approval for one new prison for serious juvenile offenders at an estimated cost of $25 million. The Joint Finance Committee will have to approve this spending in the future.  It also includes $15 million to add capacity for at least 29 offenders at the Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center in Madison and $40 million in grants to help counties cover the costs of building or renovating their own facilities to house juvenile offenders in lower security facilities.
A Legislative Task Force was intricate to the development of the Juvenile Corrections package.  I believe it is a good start to addressing the serious issues at Lincoln Hills and for offering better treatment solutions for young offenders.
Finally, the Governor is now considering a package of legislation that will provide a $100 tax rebate for every child in Wisconsin and a sales tax holiday in August.
Wisconsin families with children under the age of 18 on Dec. 31, 2018 would have to apply for the credit of $100 per child by June 30.  The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) will be creating a website through which to apply. Stay tuned for more info on this.
The Senate narrowed the Sales Tax Holiday bill, which will be held the first weekend of August. The Senate’s plan saves taxpayers approximately $12 million, but will offer consumers some relief as they prepare to go back-to-school.
The package exempts sales tax for clothing purchases of up to $75 on any single item; computer purchases for personal use of up to $750; school computer supplies for personal use of no more than $250; and school supplies of up to $75 per item.  The child tax rebate and sales tax holiday package is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
For more information and to connect with me, visit my website http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein  and subscribe to my weekly E-Update by sending an email to Sen.Marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov. Do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have input, ideas or need assistance with any state-related matters