2019 - 2020
Legislative Update for
Wisconsin Technical Colleges
September 27, 2019
Fall Legislative Focus: Improving Transfer, Student-Veterans/Active Duty, and Apprenticeship
The Legislature’s higher education committees have been active this session, holding a number of hearings focused on transfer and smoother transitions between and among higher education institutions across the state. They are also working on the needs of student-veterans and active duty military, as well as apprenticeship. The DBA is appreciative of Assembly Chair Dave Murphy (R-Greenville) and Senate Chair Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) for scheduling several bills of interest to technical colleges, as well as the members for their thoughtful engagement in these discussions. Assembly and Senate Workforce Development Committees have also engaged on a number of apprenticeship-related bills, and we appreciate their work as well. Please see below for more information. Please note the State Senate plans to hold a floor session on October 8, and again on November 5.
AB-189/SB-165 – Transferability of courses between WTCS, the UW System, private and tribally-controlled colleges: The bill was introduced in April, and coauthors Repr. Mark Born and Sen. Duey Stroebel have continued to work with both the UW System and WTCS to refine the legislation to expand the list of universally accepted general education courses. A substitute amendment was introduced in May, followed by a Senate committee hearing that same month. Assembly Colleges and Universities held a public hearing on the bill on September 12, 2019. The DBA continues to work actively on behalf of improving credit transfer and program-to-program articulation, with an overall goal of reducing credit loss and providing clear career pathways, while ensuring academic quality, flexibility and credential portability for students.
AB-371/SB-342 – Uniform course numbering and the transfer of course credits among technical colleges and University of Wisconsin System schools and eliminating certain restrictions on the UW System and WTCS: Introduced in August, the bill received a public hearing in Assembly Colleges and Universities on September 12, 2019. It would require implementation of a uniform course numbering system between UW and WTCS within five years, under which courses with the same number would automatically transfer between and among all institutions. The bill would also delete s. 36.31(1) of the statutes, which is the section that prohibits transfer programs at most technical colleges without Board of Regents approval, and prohibits UW institutions from “broadening the system’s post-high school training mission to include the preparation of persons for semiprofessional or skilled-trade occupations” without approval of the WTCS Board. Unfortunately, uniform course numbering implementation at this stage would be quite complex and costly, and it is unclear at this time, absent a funding source being identified, how the legislation moves forward.
AB-36/SB-44 – Tools of the Trade apprentice scholarships: Introduced in February, the bill would create a program to provide up to $100,000 annually in grants to financially needy technical college students for tools, equipment, and clothing required for their apprenticeship. The program is modeled on the private Tools of the Trade scholarship, created and funded by the Ascendium Education Group, which has helped more than 1,000 Wisconsin apprentices complete their education over the past six years. The bill received public hearings in both the Assembly and Senate workforce development committees in March.
AB-161/SB-142 – Late payment of tuition benefits for student veterans enrolled in UW or a technical college: Introduced in April, the bill would conform state law to federal requirements that no college or university charge late fees or penalties to students whose federal veterans tuition benefits are paid after the school’s tuition payment deadline. The bill received a Senate hearing on August 27, and an Assembly hearing on September 12.
AB-230/SB-205 – Transferring academic credits from military transcripts to UW System schools and technical colleges: Introduced on May 8, this bill allows a student enrolled in a UW school or technical college who served in the military to object to the transfer of academic credit from the student’s military transcript to the UW school or technical college. Current law generally requires our institutions to accept all American Council on Education recommendations included in the joint services transcript, and accept all credits included in a Community College of the Air Force transcript, and award academic credit accordingly. The bill received a Senate hearing September 25.
AB-361/SB-334 – Requirements for colleges when service members are called into active duty: Introduced August 8, the bill provides administrative protections to students who withdraw from a college or university because they are called to active military service for any period of time. Under current law, students receive these protections only if they are called to active duty for a period of 30 days or more. The Assembly held a public hearing on September 12, and the Senate held a public hearing on September 25.
LRB-3579/P1 – Popular election of members of technical college boards: The bill, which would restructure technical college district boards to be elected at-large rather than appointed based on a representation plan, was circulated for co-sponsorship September 5, but to date has not been formally introduced.
Additional bills of interest to technical colleges:
AB-13/SB-17 – Workforce training grants micro-credentials in high-demand fields: Bill was passed out of committee March 28 and is awaiting scheduling in the Senate. It received a public hearing in the Assembly March 6.
AB-23/SB-16 – Career and technical education incentive grants: Bill received a public hearing March 6 in the Assembly. In the Senate, it was passed out of committee March 28 and is awaiting scheduling.
AB-57/SB-88 – Youth apprenticeship: Bill was passed out of committee and is awaiting scheduling in the Senate.
AB-76/SB-103 – Hours of instruction for CNAs: Bill was passed by the Assembly (66-31 vote) on May 15th and received a public hearing in the Senate.
AB-81/SB-89 – Licensure of dental therapists: Bill received a public hearing August 21 in the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.