Lawmakers take up bills on education, homelessness, opiods, well water

Lawmakers take up bills on education, homelessness, opiods, well water

State lawmakers are taking up numerous measures Tuesday regarding issues like school accountability, combating homelessness, the opioid epidemic and regulations on high capacity wells.

State Assembly OKs education plan bill

The state Assembly has approved a bill that would inject the Legislature into the writing of a school accountability plan.

The proposal comes after the state Department of Public Instruction released a draft school accountability plan on Friday. Every state is required to submit one to the federal government by Sept. 18.

Wisconsin’s plan calls for cutting the achievement and graduation gaps in half within six years. That would require dramatic improvements in non-white student performance.

The bill requires the education department to respond to any concerns about the plan raised by member of the Legislature’s education committees.

Opponents say it’s not necessary because legislator feedback has been solicited for months.

The Assembly passed the bill on a voice vote Tuesday. It now goes to the state Senate.

Assembly to vote on combating homelessness

Proposals designed to fight homelessness in Wisconsin are up for a vote in the state Assembly.

The four measures have bipartisan support and were expected to easily clear the Assembly on Tuesday.

Some Democrats have argued the proposals don’t go far enough in fighting homelessness. But supporters, including housing advocates, have praised lawmakers for tackling the issue for the first time in years.

One bill would create a new council to coordinate efforts both in government and the private sector to address homelessness.

A second bill would create a pilot a program to prioritize chronically homeless people on the waiting list for federal housing vouchers.

Another proposal would free up more money for transitional housing across the state. And a fourth bill would make $75,000 available to one city for a pilot project to help the homeless find work.

Assembly passes pair of opioid bills

The state Assembly has passed the last two pieces of a legislative package designed to fight opioid abuse.

The first bill would allow involuntary commitment for addicts. The bill sets up the same process for them as for involuntary commitment of alcoholics.

The other bill would ensure someone who suffers an overdose would be immune from probation or parole revocation if he enters a treatment program. District attorneys would have to offer a deferred prosecution that includes treatment if the person is subject to a possession charge. The bill’s provisions would last three years and one month.

The Assembly passed the first bill on a voice vote Tuesday and the second moments later on a 97-0 vote. They now go to the Senate.

The bills are part of an 11-bill package designed to curb opioid abuse. Both the Assembly and Senate have already passed nine measures.

Assembly OKs high-cap well bill

The state Assembly has approved a bill that would relax regulations on high-capacity wells and sent the measure on to Gov. Scott Walker.

The Republican bill would exempt well repairs, replacements, reconstructions and ownership transfers from Department of Natural Resources oversight. It also would require the DNR to study lakes and streams in the central sands region to determine whether special measures are needed to protect ground and surface waters from depletion.

Opponents insist the bill would protect problem wells forever. Supporters say farmers need water for irrigation and regulatory certainty.

The Senate approved the bill last month. Debate in the Assembly went on for about two-and-a-half hours before the chamber finally voted 62-35 to pass the measure.

Walker has signaled he plans to sign the bill, saying Tuesday that protecting agriculture is a priority.