Legislative Update

May 13, 2021


Advocacy Alert: AA/AS Legislation Scheduled for a Public Hearing

The Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities has scheduled a hearing for AB-266/SB-291, the bill that would repeal s. 36.31(1), so that approval by the UW Board of Regents would no longer be required before a technical college could offer Associate of Arts/Associate of Science transfer degrees. The hearing is scheduled for May 20th, 2021.

Written or in-person testimony from the technical college community is strongly encouraged. Written testimony can be submitted to LMerrifield@districtboards.org. Deadline is close of business, May 19th, 2021, to be shared with the committee clerk and entered into the record of proceedings.

The Joint Finance Committee continued its work on Thursday, May 12th, allocating $10 million to a contingency fund for the state’s veterans’ homes, and finalizing budgets for several smaller agencies. In addition, final allotments to the state of Wisconsin and WTCS under the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) were made available by the Treasury and Education departments, respectively. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau released an explainer, after Treasury indicated that Wisconsin was eligible to receive approximately $2.5 billion under ARP, rather than the anticipated $3.2 billion. The change was due to a recalculation of Wisconsin’s percentage of unemployed individuals--relative to national unemployment, Wisconsin’s employment figures improved, leading to a smaller share of relief funding. Governor Evers will need to revise his plan for expending the funds, as he had previously released a plan to spend $2.5 billion on economic recovery efforts, and $700 million on the state’s ongoing response to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, bills of interest to the higher education community continue through the legislative process. Summaries of those bills follow.

AB-294/SB-313 – The bill would require that technical colleges remit all student activity and incidental fees to eligible individuals under the Wisconsin GI Bill. It is estimated that technical colleges would forego an additional $266,000 in revenue annually. Technical colleges are currently reimbursed by the state for only 14% of their costs of GI Bill tuition remissions.

AB-195/SB-323 – The bill would designate UW and technical college sports and athletics teams based on the sex of the participants. The bill defines “sex” as the sex assigned at birth, in order to exclude transgender students from participating on a team that matches their gender identity. The bill is written in conflict with rules set by the NJCAA and thus permits colleges and universities to bring litigation against athletic associations. The bill permits students to bring litigation if they were to suffer harm as the result of a violation of the bill’s requirements for sports teams designated based on sex.

LRB-3156 - The bill, being circulated for cosponsorship, would prohibit UW institutions and technical colleges from requiring that students be tested for, or vaccinated against, the 2019 novel coronavirus, as a condition for attendance or presence on campus.

LRB-3305/1 – The bill, being circulated for cosponsorship, proposes setting a ceiling for UW tuition increases, when and if the UW tuition freeze were lifted. The annual cap would be set at the rate of inflation, using the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U).