SNA-WI Government Affairs December 2017 E-Newsletter
Friday, December 22, 2017
SNA-WI Government Affairs December 2017 E-Newsletter
Senate Bill 159, “The Nutrition Education Act” Update
On Thursday, December 21, Senate Bill 159 passed unanimously on a 7-0 vote out of the Senate Committee on Education. This is very exciting news as this bill is one of our top legislative priorities for the 2017-2018 session!
Two days earlier, SNA-WI President Diane Agrell testified in support of the bill during a public hearing before the Senate Committee on Education. Diane did an excellent job representing SNA-WI and explaining what school nutrition professionals do and why this bill is important to our association. She was also joined by Karen Krchma from the Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (WAND) who explained why this bill is also very important to dietitians. Both gave compelling testimony that focused on making sure students have the knowledge they need to make healthy eating decisions as young people today and adults tomorrow.
The version of the bill that passed is slightly different from the original version. Amendment 1, was also adopted on a unanimous vote by the committee, removed a section of the bill that incorporates a nutrition education component into the health education 0.5 credit that is currently required for graduation from high school. The bill received significant opposition from several groups, mostly due to this section of the bill. Those groups include the WI Association of School Administrators, the WI Association of School Boards, the WI Association of School Business Officials, the WI Association of School District Administrators, the WI Association of School Personnel Administrators, and the WI Council for Administrators of Special Services.
After they made their opposition known, and our government affairs team worked with them and the bill authors to seek a compromise. During discussions, it became clear the only way to get the bill passed was with an amendment to remove the graduation requirement section. These group’s representatives testified at the public hearing and said publicly they would either remain neutral or support the bill if the amendment is adopted. We look forward to seeing them change their official position on the bill in the near future.
Even though Amendment 1 removed the graduation requirement, the bill still updates the state’s nutrition education standards to include instruction on the nutritive value of foods, the importance of a nutritious diet in promoting health, preventing chronic disease, and maintaining a healthy weight as outlined in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. We are very pleased committee members on both sides of the aisle support using the Guidelines as the source for nutrition education.
Since the Nutrition Education Act passed out of committee, it is now available for a vote in the full State Senate. The 2017 – 2018 legislative session is winding down so timing may be a challenge, but the government affairs team will meet with legislators and work on next steps. Those steps include having the bill scheduled for a vote in the Senate and an Executive Session in the Assembly Committee on Education. Stay tuned for more details and future Action Alerts urging members of the Senate and Assembly Committee on Education to support SB 159!
Legislature Gears Up for 2018
Another year is just around the corner and so is another floor period in the Wisconsin State Legislature. Beginning Tuesday, January 16th, both houses can begin scheduling days to vote on legislation. This is typically a very busy and fast-paced time as lawmakers try to get bills passed before the legislature adjourns. Once session ends, legislators transition into campaign mode for the election in November. The next legislative session will begin in January 2019 when the legislature is officially sworn in.
Recently, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R – Rochester) gave an interview in which he talked about his goals for next year and finishing up the current legislative session. Looking ahead to the spring session, Vos had this to say:
“I look at the spring session and we’ll look at how we’re going to deal with economic development in areas around our state that still have unmet needs. One area in our Forward Agenda is how we make sure that every community in our state has the plans in place to make sure they have lots that are buildable if a business wants to come to town. Almost pre-approved…When I look at 2017, we accomplished so much, that 2018 to me is finishing up the loose ends.”
Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D – Oshkosh) also reflected on the past year and looked ahead in a recent interview. Specifically, Hintz said:
“It’s been a tough time for Democrats to come into office. Part of my challenge is to raise the expectations about why we are here, and try to improve the professionalism and work ethic, especially in working together in a coherent message about what we want to accomplish. We are subject to the whims of what happens in political cycles, but I’m a believer that the pendulum may swing but it could use a push and if you’re not in a position to be successful you won’t be successful. No one is going to hand anything to us. We need to make sure we are raising expectations.”
Advocacy Day is Wednesday, March 7, 2018
SNA-WI’s annual Advocacy Day is fast approaching! We are once again teaming up with the Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for a full day of legislative advocacy at the State Capitol.
This is our opportunity to meet with legislators and make sure our professional voice is heard. Our government affairs team provides detailed information to help introduce and coach attendees through legislative meetings. It is a great experience and it helps SNA-WI members form relationships with legislators, which is key to advocacy on behalf of our profession!
To join your colleagues at the State Capitol, please click here to sign up!
Campaign Update – 10th Senate District
On Tuesday, December 19th, voters in the 10th Senate District went to the polls to cast their ballot in a primary election to see who would replace former-Senator Sheila Harsdorf. A veteran of the legislature since 1997, Harsdorf was appointed Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection by Governor Walker on November 10th.
Both Democrats and Republicans voted in the primary to see who would fill the 10th Senate seat on Tuesday, January 16th. On the Republican side, State Representative Adam Jarchow (R – Balsam Lake) defeated State Representative Shannon Zimmerman (R – Hudson) 56% to 44% to advance to the January 16th general election. On the Democratic side, St. Croix County Medical Examiner Patty Schachtner advanced to January 16th with 70% of the vote.
With recent Democratic waves in Virginia and Alabama, Democrats are optimistic they can pick up this seat that has been held by a Republican for decades. However, Republicans are confident their agenda resonates with voters in the area and they will hold onto the seat. No matter who wins on January 16th, turnout is expected to be very low as it was on December 19th.
Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding
On Wednesday, December 6th, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announced the creation of a Blue Ribbon Commission to study school funding. Sen. Luther Olsen (R - Ripon) and Rep. Joel Kitchens (R - Sturgeon Bay) will chair the committee. Other committee members include:
Sen. Alberta Darling (R - River Hills)
Sen. Howard Marklein (R - Spring Green)
Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D - Alma)
Rep. Cody Horlacher (R - Mukwonago)
Rep. Romaine Quinn (R - Rice Lake)
Rep. Sondy Pope (D - Mt. Horeb)
Rep. Jason Fields (D - Glendale)
Ted Neitzke, CEO, CESA 6
Dr. Michelle Langenfeld, Superintendent, Green Bay Area Public Schools
Dr. Joni Burgin, Superintendent, Grantsburg School District
Dan Rossmiller, Director of Government Relations, Wisconsin Association of School Boards
Lori Saqer, Director of Business Operations, Messmer Catholic Schools, Inc.
Dr. Julie Underwood, Professor, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, UW-Madison
Dr. Bill Hughes, Chief Academic Officer, Seton Catholic Schools
Rep. Kitchens and Sen. Olsen held the first Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding on Thursday, December 14th. Sen. Olsen started off the committee by telling members he “really hopes” the goal is to do the right thing and that the report “doesn’t just gather dust on the shelf.”
Kitchens said he is “optimistic” that the work that comes out of the Commission will be enacted because education is changing and the system needs to look at the new direction of education. Kitchens said the “plan is to have this ready for the next budget.” Kitchens and Olsen said they would like to see at least five or six public hearings around Wisconsin because the state is large, and they want to hear from everyone.