Legislative Update for Wisconsin Technical Colleges

March 22, 2022


End of Session

After a frantic January and February, the Legislature says they’re done for this session. The Assembly adjourned the evening of February 24 pursuant to SJR-1, indicating the end of their session. The Senate followed suit on March 8. The Legislature can call itself into extraordinary session at any time but is not expected to do so. Any bills that have not passed both houses are dead, and must be re-introduced in the next legislative session, which will begin in January, 2023. The Governor has called for bills in batches since the end of session, and several are still awaiting his call. As of March 18th, 47 Assembly bills were enacted into law since January 2021, with 1 partially vetoed, 26 vetoed, and 10 enrolled bills awaiting final action. From the Senate, 146 bills were enacted into law, 22 have been vetoed, and another 45 enrolled bills still waiting. We’ll update you as necessary.

In the interest of brevity and readability, stalled legislation has been excluded from this report. As always, you may direct questions to Layla Merrifield. You can view prior Legislative Updates archived on our web site. If this update was forwarded to you, you can sign up to receive updates directly on our Legislative Advocacy page.

Legislators leaving office at the end of this term:


State Senate:

State Assembly:

In addition, Representatives Barb Dittrich and Dan Knodl have been redistricted into the same district, as have Representatives Cody Horlacher and Chuck Wichgers. Additional retirements may be announced in the coming weeks.

Bills of Interest to Technical Colleges:

  1. AB-56/SB-76 Under current law, local units of government and tax increment districts (TIDs) receive state aid to compensate for personal property taxes that they would have collected on tax exempt computers and certain machinery. The legislation clarifies that following termination of a TID, the amount of aid that would have been paid to the TID is distributed to the other underlying taxing jurisdictions. The Assembly passed the bill on a voice vote June 22nd, with the Senate concurring the following day. Signed by the Governor (Act 61).
  2. AB-115/SB-125 would create an individual income tax subtraction for tuition paid for apprenticeship programs. The bill was recommended for passage by both Workforce Development committees in April. The Senate bill passed the Senate 19-13 on October 25th, and the Assembly concurred the following day on a vote of 60-35. The Governor vetoed the legislation on December 6, 2021, noting that it is duplicative of an existing individual income tax deduction for apprenticeship tuition and would not benefit all programs equally.
  3. AB-227/SB-252 would extend the time during which tax increments may be allocated and expenditures for project costs may be made for tax incremental district number 2 in the city of Wisconsin Dells and would extend the time during which expenditures for project costs may be made for tax incremental district number 3 in the city of Wisconsin Dells. Senate Substitute Amendment 1 to SB-252 would also require that annual municipal TID reports must also include the value of new construction in each TID, less the value of improvements removed from each district. In addition, the bill requires the annual reports to include an analysis of the impact on property taxes and levy limits resulting from the value of new construction less improvements removed in each tax incremental district. The Senate voted to pass the bill as amended on January 25, the Assembly concurred February 17, and it was signed by the Governor March 4, 2022 (Act 142).
  4. AB-294/SB-313 would expand the technical college fees that are covered by the Wisconsin GI Bill to require activity fee and other incidental fee remissions. Both higher education committees voted to recommend for passage, but neither house scheduled a floor vote.
  5. AB-413/SB-409 would prohibit anti-racism and anti-sexism student instruction and anti-racism and anti-sexism training for employees of UW and technical colleges. Assembly Amendment 1 made various changes to the bill, including that faculty could not “compel” students to adopt certain tenets or beliefs, while specifying that the bill would not limit academic freedom. This legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 21-12, on February 22. It was concurred in by the Assembly, with 60 ayes, 33 noes, and 2 paired votes, that same day. The bill has not yet been sent to the Governor for action, but is generally expected to be vetoed.
  6. AB-428/SB-421 was introduced by the Joint Legislative Council on June 25, 2021, and would add to the membership of the Higher Educational Aids Board (HEAB) one member of a tribal college’s board, one tribal college financial aid administrator, and one tribal college student, in order to provide equitable representation to tribal colleges. The bill was amended in the Assembly to add “alternating appointees consisting of one member of the governing body of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa College for a term, followed by one member of the governing body of the College of Menominee Nation for the next term, and continuing this alternation of terms thereafter.” The Assembly passed the bill as amended on February 22, 2022. The Senate took no action.
  7. AB-475/SB-448 would include with a referendum question for issuing bonds a statement of the estimated interest accruing on the amount of the bonds. The Assembly Committee on Government Accountability voted for passage 4-2. On the Senate side, the Committee on Government Operations, Legal Review, and Consumer Protection voted 3-2 for passage. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 20-12, on February 15, 2022. The Assembly did not schedule a floor vote.
  8. AB-515/SB-517 would lower from five years to three years the residency requirement for the tuition and fee remission program for veterans and dependents enrolled at UW and technical colleges, and the equivalent grant program for those enrolled at private nonprofit colleges. The Assembly bill passed that house on February 23, 2022, and the bill received a hearing at the Senate committee, but did not move any further.
  9. AB-635/SB-605 Resident tuition at University of Wisconsin System institutions and technical colleges as applied to relocated service members and their children and spouses. Signed by the Governor (Act 159).
  10. AB-735/SB-747 would establish standards related to free speech and academic freedom at UW and technical colleges and provide certain penalties. The district board would be required to both refrain from restricting free speech, even if the speech is discriminatory harassment, and at the same time, prevent individuals from using their speech to disrupt others’ speech, without violating the disrupters’ free speech. Assembly Substitute Amendment 1 specified that all indoor and outdoor public areas must be considered public forums, required annual First Amendment surveys, and specified maximum damages of $100,000 could be awarded to plaintiffs whose expressive rights are violated under the bill. The Assembly committee on Colleges and Universities recommended the bill for passage, as amended, by an 8-4 vote on January 26, 2022. However, the Senate did not take it up and the Assembly did not schedule a floor vote.
  11. AB-741/SB-711 would provide that, if UW and technical colleges require COVID-19 vaccinations for students, and if a student chose to leave their program of study as a result of that requirement, then the UW or technical college would be required to refund tuition for the entirety of the student’s program. The Assembly committee recommended the bill for passage 10-4 on January 26, 2022, but it was not scheduled for a floor vote. The Senate took no action.
  12. AB-757/SB-487 would create a nonresident tuition exemption at UW and technical colleges for the child or spouse of an active-duty member of the US armed forces, if the service member resided in this state at the time the person was accepted for admission, but the service member was subsequently relocated and stationed in another state. No action was taken.
  13. AB-836/SB-847 would require the System Board to work with technical colleges to establish part-time police academy programs offered by at least two technical colleges. The bill passed the Assembly 59-33 on January 25, 2022. DBA appreciated the Senate author’s offering an amendment, at the request of WTCS, and approved by the Senate higher education committee. However, the Senate concurred in the Assembly version, 21-12, on February 22, 2022. The Governor has not yet acted on this legislation, but he announced last week that he will make available $1.0 million in ARPA funds for any colleges interested in providing pilot part-time academies.
  14. AB-885/SB-837 would eliminate immunity from liability for public campus administrators for violations of individual expressive rights under the declaration of rights in the Wisconsin Constitution. Singling out public campus administrators from all other public officials, the bill provides that none of the following applies or may be used as a defense to claims made under the bill: (a) statutory immunity; (b) statutory limitations on damages; (c) any claim that the rights, privileges, or immunities under the state and federal Constitutions were not clearly established at the time of the conduct; or (d) any claim that the campus administrator was acting in good faith or believed their actions were lawful. The bill passed the Assembly 60-34, with 2 paired votes, on February 22. The Senate voted to concur on March 8, 2022. It awaits action by the Governor.
  15. AB-941/SB-929 would provide scholarships and grants intended to boost recruitment for commercial driver licensing programs. For students enrolled in technical college CDL programs, the scholarship would equal 50% of tuition. However, the bill’s designated funding source would be federal American Rescue Plan funds under the Governor’s control. The bill passed the Assembly February 17 and passed the Senate on March 8. It awaits action by the Governor.
  16. AB-944/SB-908 would expand veterans remissions at UW and technical colleges to include fee remission for nondegree and noncredit courses. While the DBA continues to support fee remissions for veterans, we have expressed concern that the state has not increased its reimbursement even as benefits have expanded, leaving colleges with a 14% reimbursement rate in the most recent year. The Assembly committee on colleges and universities held a public hearing February 10, 2022. The Senate took no action.
  17. AB-973/SB-981 among other provisions, would require technical colleges to award “partial credit” for apprenticeship courses; require technical colleges to award transcripted credit for youth apprenticeship courses, rather than advanced standing, in all cases; and require technical colleges to apply youth apprenticeship credits to associate degrees. Assembly Substitute Amendment 1, removed the “partial credit” requirement, among other changes. The Assembly passed the bill as amended 62-30 on February 17. The Senate committee on economic and workforce development held a public hearing February 23, then recommended passage by a vote of 3-2 on February 24, 2022. However, due to concerns raised by the DBA and WTCS around mandating credits, the Senate declined to hold a floor vote.
  18. AB-1055/SB-984 would provide grants to technical colleges to provide additional nurse aide training in areas with nurse aide shortages. The bill was introduced late in the session on February 17, 2022, and did not receive hearings.
  19. AB-1057 would prohibit UW and technical colleges from reducing financial aid packages when students receive privately financed scholarships. This bill was inspired by a UW-Madison student who received a Rotary scholarship, which reduced other elements of the student’s financial aid package, according to federal cost of attendance and financial need calculations. The bill received a hearing on March 8, 2022, but no further action was taken.
  20. AB-1081/SB-1022 would require UW and technical colleges to collect and report data identifying the number of qualified applicants denied enrollment in a nursing degree program because of capacity constraints, and to submit a plan increase capacity in the 10-year period following the plan’s submission. Given a handful of late session bills around various workforce shortages, it appears likely we will continue to see interest in recruitment and program capacity for essential occupations as shortages grow more acute.
  21. AB-1088 would provide UW and technical college tuition remissions for and grants to support foster care and other out-of-home care placement students. Another late introduction, this bill was not taken up, but interest in supporting students who have aged out of foster care continues to be a topic of interest in the Legislature.