Children First, Public Notice Bills Advance

Two Lassa bills progress as legislative session nears end

Madison — As the final floor sessions of the 2015-2016 legislative session approach, two bills authored by State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) are advancing through the State Legislature.

            One of the measures would allow courts to assign parents to participate in Children First programs outside their home counties.  Children First is a local program that provides employment placement, training, and other support services to non-custodial parents who cannot pay child support because they are unemployed or underemployed. The provision passed the Assembly Tuesday and is awaiting action by the full Senate.

“Children First is successful in helping unemployed parents meet their child support obligations, but not every county has these programs,” Sen. Lassa said. “This measure will allow judges to assign parents to Children First programs in nearby counties, which will help more parents get jobs and stay current on child support.”

Wisconsin’s Children First Program, administered by the Department of Children and Families, assists non-custodial parents who are unemployed or underemployed to obtain jobs.  However, only 21 counties in Wisconsin currently have Children First programs.  The bill would allow courts to assign parents to a program outside the county if the judge determines it is in reasonable driving distance. Sen. Lassa introduced the measure along with Rep. Nancy VanderMeer (R-Tomah).

            “This bill will help non-custodial parents improve their lives, and will make sure their children have the resources they need and deserve,” Sen. Lassa said.

The second bill, which passed the Senate last night, standardizes the deadline by which municipal clerks must publish notice of official budget amendments in local newspapers.  Current statutes contain various notice requirements and have not been updated in decades. The measure has already passed the Assembly; yesterday’s vote sends the bill to the governor for his signature. Sen. Lassa introduced the measure along with Rep. Ed Brooks (R-Reedsburg).

“After working in collaboration with local officials, we believe this legislation provides local governments with a suitable and uniform window to publish any action taken by their governing bodies while also ensuring the public is notified within an appropriate amount of time,” Sen Lassa said.

“With the final days of the current biennial session upon us, I’m working hard to advance bipartisan legislation that serves the public interest,” Sen. Lassa said.

Republican legislative leaders have indicated that both houses will adjourn by sometime in March, significantly earlier than usual.