The state Legislature has wrapped up until January. A few of the items to report on include:
Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act Elimination: Senate bill 490, which would end Wisconsin FMLA, ended the year still in committee. There is no Assembly companion bill for this bad measure, which would – among other things – end the right to use paid sick leave while on family leave to care for a child or other family member. Keep sharing the WEAC action alert at www.weac.org/take-action.
Wisconsin Retirement System Changes: AB324/SB190 is the same bill introduced last session by Senator Duey Stroebel to increase the minimum retirement age and change the way earnings are calculated. Right now, it sits in committee. There is an overall lack of interest and enthusiasm at this time in the Legislature for the bill. We’ll stay vigilant, though, and alert you if anything changes.
Grievance Procedures for Teachers: SB 419 / AB 503 threatens teachers’ rights to access the statutory grievance procedure that includes review by an impartial hearing officer. It would essentially preclude access to the grievance procedure for teacher nonrenewals and any form of discipline where there is not a financial consequence – such as a letter of reprimand. The bill is in committee.
Bills we’re watching: Link to a list of all the bills we’re watching, along with the state budget wrap-up, at www.weac.org/budget.
Micro-credentials. Please share this blurb in your local member communications:
WEAC members can now sign up for NEA Micro-Credentials through the WEA Academy Website. WEAC members have access to over 100 FREE online micro-credential courses. Micro-credentials are a competency based recognition issued for formal and informal professional learning experiences in areas such as bully and sexual harassment prevention, working with English language learners and classroom management. Create your micro-credential account today to get started!Not a WEAC member yet? Sign Up Now!
Summer Academy. Plan now to assemble your local team for the WEAC Leadership Academy. It will take place July 30-August 1 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Not sure about the Academy? Watch this one-minute video to find out what it’s all about.
U.S. Tax Plan. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a tax plan that eliminates the federal tax deduction that allows educators to deduct up to $250 of the money we spend on our classrooms and students. The bill expands a tax loophole for the wealthiest to pay for private school expenses while cutting tax deductions for the middle class. The elimination of most of the state and local tax deductions would blow a hole in state and local revenue to support public education and risk funding for nearly 250,000 education jobs, including 4,680 in Wisconsin. Here’s what to expect next:
The U.S. Senate is expected to take up its version of the tax plan after Thanksgiving. It’s version does not include elimination of the educator tax deduction – in fact it would double the deduction to $500. The Senate version also includes partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which provides an opening to stall or defeat the measure.
Following the Senate action, Congress is expected to act quickly – jamming the tax plan through in a total of just four weeks.
You can expect regular updates through WEAC’s Connecting Leaders and Staff alerts, as well as possibly some patch-through calls to members if necessary from the NEA.
Please share our updates on the tax plan with your members, across email, in person and through social media. This is the time to lift up noise on the issue – there’s a short timeline and educators need to be front-and-center with a full-court press.