MADISON, WI -- The Assembly met November 7 to take up a number of legislative proposals, including several relating to higher education in Wisconsin.
Assembly Bill 553 generally prohibits UW schools and technical colleges from restricting the free speech rights of students and employees. AB 553 also establishes due process guarantees for disciplinary actions against students and employees.
“I voted for AB 553 because it’s vital that students and staff from across the political spectrum feel free to express their opinions on campus,” State Rep. Dave Armstrong (R-Rice Lake) said. “Part of the higher education experience is the give and take of diverse ideas. Protecting free speech benefits all students in the long run, even if they don’t like what they hear.”
Assembly Bill 554 eliminates “minority” status as a consideration for many UW, technical college, and Higher Educational Aids Board (HEAB) programs and instead focuses on “disadvantaged” students.
“I supported AB 554 because it reinforces the US Supreme Court’s recent decision that race-based decision-making in higher education violates the Constitution,” Representative Armstrong said. “AB 554 will help ensure that financial assistance goes to students who actually need it without regard to whether they fit into some racial ‘box’.”
Representative Armstrong also voted for proposals to guarantee college admission to Wisconsin students who meet certain academic criteria (Assembly Bill 370), to give grants to technical colleges for new manufacturing training equipment (Assembly Bill 549), and to update and expand Wisconsin’s technical education equipment grant program for school districts (Assembly Bill 550).
“Wisconsin needs to do a better job of retaining our students, and AB 370 will encourage more of our best and brightest high school students to attend the UW or technical colleges,” Representative Armstrong said. “It’s also critical for Wisconsin’s future that our young people have access to the most current developments in technical education.”
Assembly Bills 370, 549, 550, 553, and 554 – among other proposals passed November 7 – will now go to the Senate for further consideration.