Your WBA advocacy team has been busy this summer! I would like to make the membership aware of several key examples of how the association has been working on our behalf. First, the newest Wisconsin State Budget, recently signed by Gov. Tony Evers, is mostly neutral when it comes to issues impacting Wisconsin's banks. It contains no major legislative victories, but also no major losses. While not exciting news, it powerfully demonstrates the importance of advocacy for our industry in the coming years. The WBA advocacy team worked hard and long hours on defense to achieve that "neutral" result by preventing many negative items from being added to the budget.
Shortly after the budget was signed, the WBA advocacy team met with new Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, joined by representatives from Associated Bank. The small group discussed the state of Wisconsin banks and potential elder fraud legislation. Kaul made an impromptu addition to the agenda by taking an extra half-hour to ask multiple questions about hemp and issues related to recreational marijuana as a result of recent changes in Illinois.
Additionally, with rumors circulating (at the time of this writing) of yet another credit union acquisition of a Wisconsin bank, the WBA reached out to the entire Wisconsin Congressional Delegation to point out the obvious: taxpayers should be livid every time a credit union leverages their tax-exemption to purchase a tax-paying bank. WBA's letter called on our federal representatives to take action on this unbalanced arrangement by leveling the financial services sector's tax and regulatory responsibilities. You can read the full letter here on WBA's website.
As important as the association's advocacy actions are, as an industry, we also need to speak up for ourselves. Many WBA members did just that by answering WBA's grassroots advocacy call related to delaying the implementation of CECL. In early July, over 220 members answered the call and sent letters to their member of Congress asking them to support legislation (S. 1564/H.R. 3182) delaying the implementation of FASB's CECL standard until regulators fully study and understand the effect this new standard will have on financial institutions, their customers, and their communities.
Over 100 banks have also demonstrated their commitment to speaking up for our industry by designating an Advocacy Officer at their institution. Created last year at the direction of the WBA Board, the Advocacy Officer role is the point person who leads their bank's advocacy efforts, encouraging their coworkers to participate, coordinating "Take Your Legislator to Work" events, and providing the WBA advocacy team with input on key legislative and regulatory issues.
It will take all of us to achieve positive results, but I am confident that Wisconsin's bankers and our association are well-equipped to defend and promote our industry through our advocacy efforts.
Meloy is CEO of First Business Bank, Madison and WBA Chair.