State News

Committee strikes proposal allowing students to opt out of segregated fees

Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Monday that makes it easier for patients to acquire CBD oil, which is made from marijuana and is used to treat children who suffer from seizures.

The state’s powerful Joint Finance Committee eliminated Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal Thursday that would have allowed UW System students to opt out of paying segregated fees.

The committee co-chaired by state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, and state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, suggested to consider the 83 removed items as non-budget legislation in standing committees, according to a letter sent to other members of the committee.

The proposal to allow students to opt-out of segregated fees can still get passed in the future, but would not be a part of the 2017-’19 budget.

Proponents of the opt-out have argued that it would allow students to save money by not paying fees that could go toward funding groups they don’t use or support.

The Associated Students of Madison, along with UW System Student Representatives, however, have campaigned against the proposal. The Legislative Affairs Committee orchestrated the campaign “Save Our Orgs” and argued that the proposal could mean the end of essential groups like Badger Catholic, Working Class Student Union, Sex-Out-Loud and the student government, which serves as the student shared governance body.

“Removing the opt-out from the state budget is a huge win for Wisconsin students,” said Sally Rohrer, the chair of the Associated Students of Madison’s Legislative Affairs committee.

Rohrer emphasized in a statement how student services that are funded by segregated fees act as outlets for diverse student groups to have a voice on campus.

During a Joint Finance Committee hearing in UW-Platteville Tuesday, members of ASM joined other UW System students to express their concern over the opt-out and request its removal from the budget.

“Because of the actions of Sen. Darling and Rep. Nygren, survivors of sexual assault won’t lose health resources, students who have no good transportation options will still be able to ride the bus across campus and student organizations won’t have to charge money to members in order to operate,” Rohrer said.

Other policy items removed include requiring campuses to establish a plan for students to receive three-year degrees, freedom of expression throughout the UW System and establishing provisions on faculty teaching workload. Requirements that students have an internship or other work experience before graduation also will no longer be a part of the budget.

The committee also struck a requirement for public and private voucher schools that ensures they teach a certain amount of hours. 

Nina Bertelsen contributed to this report. 

UPDATE April 5, 6:13 p.m.: This article was updated to include additional information. 

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