Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) this week announced who will lead all the Assembly Committees that will convene in the 2013-14 legislative session, including two committees that will focus on K-12 education issues.
State Rep. Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake) will return as Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, a position he held in the 2011-12 legislative session. A former school board member and president, Rep. Kestell was first elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1998, and has been re-elected since 2000. Rep. Kestell is currently a member of the Education Commission of the States, and the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, and released this statement upon his selection.
Newly-elected freshman Rep. John Jagler (R-Watertown) will serve as the Vice-Chair. Rep.-elect Jagler is a former reporter and newscaster for Newsradio 620 WTMJ in Milwaukee who served as the Communications Director for Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald during the past two years.
The Assembly Urban Education Committee will be chaired by Rep. Don Pridemore (R-Erin). (This committee is expected to focus on legislation related to expanding vouchers and independent charters.) During the 2011-12 legislative session, Rep. Pridemore was a member of the Assembly Education Committee and chaired the Assembly Committee on Children and Families. Previously, Rep. Pridemore was a member of the Assembly Education Reform Committee, from 2005 through 2010, serving as its chair during the 2007-08 legislative session. Rep. Pridemore also served on the 2010 Legislative Council Special Study Committee on School Safety.
Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) will serve as Vice-Chair of Assembly Urban Education Committee. A former private school teacher, Rep. Thiesfeldt served on the Assembly Education Committee last session. He is currently serving on the 2012 Legislative Council Special Committee on Reporting Child Abuse and Child Neglect.
Last Friday, Senate Majority Leader-elect Scott Fitzgerald appointed the GOP members of Senate standing committees. Appointed to the Senate Education Committee are: Sen. Luther Olsen of Ripon, Chair; Sen.-elect Paul Farrow of Pewaukee; Sen. Alberta Darling of River Hills; Sen. Leah Vukmir of Wauwatosa; and Sen.-elect Rick Gudex of Fond du Lac.
Sen. Olsen returns as Chair after serving in that position during the 2011-12 session. He served on the Berlin Area School Board from 1976-97, and as its president from 1986-95. Sen. Olsen was elected to the Senate in 2004, after serving in the state Assembly for 10 years. An officer in the Education Commission of the States, Olsen is also currently serving as the Chair of the Legislative Council Special Committee on Improving Educational Opportunities in High School.
Sen.-elect Farrow is a former member of the Richmond School Board. Farrow was elected to the state Assembly in 2010 and was just elected to the state Senate in a Dec. 4 special election. (See item in Inside Scoop, below.) Farrow currently serves as the Vice Chair of Legislative Council Special Committee on Improving Educational Opportunities in High School.
As of this writing, Senate Democrats had yet to make their committee appointments.