The Wisconsin Bankers Association’s (WBA) state legislative advocacy continues in earnest as we move forward toward the end of the year. Despite the holidays approaching, the state legislature remains very active on several bills of interest to the banking industry. WBA, working alongside many engaged bankers, already achieved many positive results for the industry in the state budget signed by the Governor back in July, most notably the state income tax exemption on certain commercial and ag purpose loans and the repeal of the personal property tax. Nonetheless, there are many other legislative priorities established for WBA by our Government Relations Committee and Board of Directors that are now being discussed among state legislators.
Last week, the Assembly Financial Institutions Committee heard our elder fraud bill. I want to thank the following bankers who took time out of their day to travel to Madison and testify, sharing heartfelt and impactful stories of the need for this elder fraud reform: Debby Bartolerio, First Citizens State Bank; Gary Kuter, Capitol Bank; Karen Schellin, Johnson Financial Group; and Melissa Teeter, Horicon Bank. Additionally, I would like to thank Jennifer Haydon of American National Bank for submitting written testimony. As I’ve stated before, direct involvement from bankers is critical to helping the WBA advocacy team achieve success for the banking industry.
The Association is also working with legislators to have our financial institution modernization bill heard before both the Assembly and Senate committees prior to the end of the year. The likelihood of legislation passing through the full legislature increases if they are heard and moved out of committee prior to the end of the calendar year. With 2024 being an election year, the floor period is scheduled to end in March, but could potentially end sooner.
In addition to these two bills, we are working on several other items including the use of merchant category codes, the acceptance of central bank digital currency by the state, and other topics.
At the same time, the WBA advocacy team has been busy giving presentations to various WBA committees as well as individual bank boards and staff about our activities this session and the ongoing need for political funds. So far, WBA has raised over 70% of our $300,000 goal for 2023, but there are just over 50 days left in the year. We need your help now to achieve this critical investment in the industry’s advocacy future. I know that the economy is challenging right now and asking your management team and board for personal contributions for political purposes can be difficult; however, without meaningful political contributions, WBA is restricted in our abilities to succeed on your behalf. Each year, I personally contribute between $4,000 and $5,000 to WBA’s political accounts because it is important to me to support the industry that has given me so much opportunity throughout my career. I encourage you to consider giving at least $1,000 which qualifies you for the Silver Triangle Club, or $3,000 or more which qualifies you for the Leadership Circle.
Thank you to so many of you who have engaged in our grassroots calls-to-action throughout this year, already contributed to our political funds, or joined us in Madison for Capitol Day or in Washington, D.C. during our annual advocacy trips. Without your engagement, we truly are not as effective as we need to be to achieve our priorities.
To learn more about WBA’s advocacy efforts and to contribute to one or both of our political accounts, please visit wisbank.com/advocacy. If you would like to schedule an advocacy presentation for your bank, please contact a member of our Government Relations team.