Welcome to the UW System Government Relations Newsletter. The UW System Office of Government Relations provides legislative and political updates that impact the University of Wisconsin System at the state and federal level.

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STATE RELATIONS

legislative audit bureau report 

As part of the Legislative Audit Bureau report on the State of Wisconsin FY2019-20 Financial Statements (CAFR), the Auditor’s Report identified UW System issues in information technology (IT) security policies, procedures, and controls.  See the briefing sheet for a detailed explanation of each issue and audit recommendations.

 

Assembly Committee Appointments

The Assembly committee appointments for the 2021-22 session have been announced. The committees impacting UW System include:

A full list of standing committees, including chairs and members, can be found here.

 

2021-22 Legislative Calendar 

The new legislative session began on Monday, January 4, 2021.  The first order of business was to adopt the joint resolution organizing the session and creating the calendar.  The following is the draft calendar included in the resolution:

  • January 4, 2021 – 2021 - Inauguration
  • January 5 to 7, 2021 - Floorperiod
  • January 12, 2021 - Floorperiod
  • January 26 to 28, 2021 - Floorperiod
  • February 16 to 18, 2021 - Floorperiod
  • March 16 to 25, 2021- Floorperiod
  • April 13 to 15, 2021 - Floorperiod
  • May 11 to 13, 2021 - Floorperiod
  • June 8 to 30, 2021, OR budget passage - Floorperiod
  • September 28 to 30, 2021 - Floorperiod
  • October 12 to 14, 2021 - Floorperiod
  • November 2 to 11, 2021 - Floorperiod
  • January 18 to 27, 2022 - Floorperiod
  • February 15 to 24, 2022 - Floorperiod
  • March 8 to 10, 2022 - Last general-business Floorperiod
  • April 19 to 21, 2022 - Limited-business Floorperiod
  • May 17 and 18, 2022 - Veto Review Floorperiod
  • January 3, 2023 – 2023 - Inauguration

 Governor Evers State of the State Address

Governor Tony Evers will deliver the virtual 2021 State of the State address on Tuesday, January 12, 2021.  The livestream will begin at 7:00 p.m. 

FEDERAL RELATIONS

117th Congress convenes 

The 117th Congress convened on Sunday, January 3, 2021.  While the reality of the ongoing COIVD-19 pandemic resulted in a day that was without the usual pomp and circumstance of the start of a new session, Members of Congress were sworn in on the House floor and Speaker Pelosi was formally re-elected to her position as Speaker of the House.  In the Senate, while Senators were sworn in, party control was determined by the January 5th elections in Georgia.  Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock prevailed over the incumbent candidates and will be the new Democratic senators from Georgia.  As such, the Senate will be split 50-50 with Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris being the tie breaking vote upon her swearing in.

 

Calendar Updates

The House of Representatives previously released the expected legislative calendar for the 117th Congress, which can be viewed here.  In late December, the Senate released the expected legislative calendar, which can be viewed here.  While both of these calendars are subject to change, they provide a good outlook of when Congress will be in session.  Each year, CQ/Roll Call puts out a calendar that allows you to view the overlap, which can be seen here, if interested.

 

Consolidated Appropriations Act Update

In the waning days of the 116th Congress, the House and Senate passed legislation, which was eventually signed by President Trump, to both fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year and provide some targeted COVID-19 relief.  Should you be interested, you can view the full text of the enrolled bill here.  As the bill is several thousand pages long, the summaries provided by the House Appropriations Committee may be of particular interest.  You can view a division-by-division summary of the appropriations provisions here, a division-by-division summary of the COVID-19 relief provisions here, and a division-by-division summary of the authorizing provisions here.   

While there are serval provisions of note to higher education, the bullet points below, which are provided in the linked summaries, are worth highlighting.   

As it relates to the omnibus spending bill:

  • The bill provides $24.5 billion for federal student aid programs.  Within this amount, the legislation provides a $150 increase to the maximum Pell Grant amount and $880 million for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and $1.2 billion for Federal Work Study.
  • The underlying legislation provides $2.5 billion for higher education programs.  Within this amount, the legislation provides $1.1 billion for Federal TRIO programs, $368 million for GEAR Up, and $7 million for the Centers of Excellence for Veteran Student Success Program.

As part of the COVID-19 related provisions contained in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act within the bill, the legislation provides:

  • $22.7 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief fund.  Of that amount, $20.2 billion will be awarded to public and private institutions of higher education via a formula outlined in the bill which seeks to take into account the differences between full-time versus headcount enrollment. 

Finally, in the authorizing portions of the legislation, there is language that seeks to simplify the FAFSA and expand access to Pell grants, including to incarcerated individuals.

 

 

 

LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVES

The Government Relations team closely monitors legislation that could impact the University of Wisconsin System and regularly shares that information with their colleagues at institutions throughout the System for review and comment. Each bill being tracked by the government relations team is sent to campuses and UW System administration staff for review.