Phase I of the 13th annual Capitol Day has come to an end, but the work of WBA and Wisconsin banks to accomplish our legislative priorities remains strong! This year’s Capitol Day kicked off with an introduction by WBA Chairman and President/CEO of Charter Bank, Paul Kohler. During Kohler’s opening remarks, he offered a reminder that “the key to our success is involvement and engagement by bankers,” stating that this is the most critical portion of the legislative session.  

Further underscoring the importance of grassroots advocacy yesterday, the State Assembly passed Assembly Bills 45 and 46 on elder fraud prevention. These bills would allow qualified individuals to temporarily pause transactions where they suspect elder fraud is taking place, refuse power of attorney in certain situations, and allow seniors to name a trusted contact as an extra layer of protection. The bills also provide legal protection to bankers acting in good faith to prevent elder financial fraud and now head to the State Senate. 

The bills and the WBA-backed amendments passed on voice votes.

WBA Assistant Director of Government Affairs John Cronin and President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels hosted this year’s event and welcomed the event’s first of three guest speakers, DFI Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld. Blumenfeld discussed the health of Wisconsin’s financial industry as a direct result of community banks, profitability of banks in 2020, and risks to financial institutions such as cybersecurity and climate change.    

Following Blumenfeld, Government Relations Chair Tom Mews of First National Community Bank, New Richmond, introduced Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who spoke with WBA’s government relations team on the 2021-22 Legislative Session. Speaker Vos started his remarks by thanking bankers for the critical role they’ve played throughout the pandemic, and their longstanding dedication to their communities and the state’s economy.  He discussed his relationship with Gov. Tony Evers, the notable accomplishments so far this session, the state budget, and remaining priorities for the remainder of the session. 

The final speaker of the morning, Sen. Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, addressed the biggest challenges faced by Wisconsin’s economy and the importance of banks within their community. LeMahieu also answered questions posed by Cronin, Oswald Poels, and WBA’s Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff Daryll Lund regarding the dynamic between legislature and the governor’s office, whether Gov. Evers will sign a state budget into law this year, and how Wisconsin bankers can help Wisconsin residents overcome some of the biggest economic challenges.   

Even though Phase 1 of Capitol Day has ended, there is plenty to look forward to! Phase 2 of Capitol Day will involve participating bankers meeting virtually with legislators to continue the conversation on our top priorities. If you missed the event, a recording is available and can be accessed by emailing wbaeducation@wisbank.com to watch the WBA team discuss what has been accomplished for the banking industry in the current session, what is anticipated for its remainder, and what you’ll need to know to discuss priorities with your legislators in the coming weeks.   

Some of these key issues that will play into the conversation include supporting elder fraud prevention legislation (which the Assembly passed yesterday), opposing harmful tax increases in the budget, and supporting pro-agriculture tax change through ECORA. If you are uncertain of an answer to a particular question or if you are interested in speaking with a legislator, please direct these questions to John Cronin for further clarification. 

The 2021 Capitol Day concluded with a video featuring Oswald Poels and Kohler to address the importance of political fundraising for the banking industry’s advancement of legislation, thanking members for their continued support and reminding once again that WBA is not an (R), or a (D), but a (B) for “Banker”.