By Lorenzo Cruz
The Wisconsin Bankers Association’s (WBA) mission to support our members is rooted in advocacy. However, the advocacy we do on behalf of the banking industry is not successful without your active participation in partnership with WBA. In addition to responding to grassroots email alerts asking you to contact your state or federal elected officials, we need you to participate in our annual Capitol Day in Madison to directly share with legislators the positive impact banks have on Wisconsin’s economy. Since the state legislature only meets in the spring in an election year, WBA’s Capitol Day is just around the corner, scheduled for February 22, 2024.
What is Capitol Day?
The one-day event is held annually in Madison and features updates from WBA staff on key issues impacting banks in Wisconsin as well as a legislative panel and guest speaker. These morning sessions provide the perfect opportunity to gain insight into the political and policy landscape of the state, along with the specific legislation affecting the banking industry prior to heading to small group meetings with state legislators.
In the afternoon, WBA schedules meetings for each banker attending with their elected state legislators determined by Assembly and Senate district. Bankers from all areas of the bank are encouraged to participate in Capitol Day and make their voices heard. While it may seem daunting, our team works diligently to ensure each attendee is prepared with talking points and handouts to have impactful conversations with their legislators. The relationships formed between bankers and their representatives continue to be critical in reinforcing the impact legislative proposals will have on local banks and communities, as well as the industry.
Why Does it Matter?
In 2023, the membership shattered WBA’s Capitol Day attendance record with nearly 200 bankers in attendance for the annual event. Almost half of those present in 2023 were first-time attendees. It is vital that bankers not only continue to voice their opinion on policies impacting them, but also encourage others to provide new perspectives that augment the voices of our seasoned advocates.
By meeting with 75% of the legislators in our state, our presence at the State Capitol this past May unified the voice of Wisconsin’s banking community and resulted in the historic tax parity relief and personal property tax repeal wins we saw passed in the budget this summer. Legislators and staff sincerely value hearing directly from their local bankers (YOU!) on the issues impacting their district.
However, WBA isn’t the only business association to host a government day to educate and lobby legislators on the policy matters that impact their industry. In the past several years, credit union activists and realtors have shown up in larger numbers to represent and advocate for their industries. With many more legislative priorities that we wish to accomplish, including guarding against credit card swipe fees and pushing for financial institution modernization and elder fraud protection, it’s important that we do the same!
With so much at stake, an even larger turnout is warranted for the 2024 event. Our team is hoping to see at least 300 bankers in Madison for WBA Capitol Day. Your voice unequivocally matters to our advocacy success so if you would like to help shape the issues affecting the success of the banking industry, I highly encourage you to mark your calendars for February 22. It is well worth your time and effort.
Taking the Next Step
Equally important to our grassroots initiatives are our political fundraising efforts from an advocacy standpoint. While it is never easy asking for monetary support, the political reality is that in order to maintain existing allies and garner future ones, we need to provide financial support to elected officials and candidates who will aid us in safeguarding the banking industry.
If we neglect this task, we run the risk of a competitor or adversary gaining the advantage to pass legislation or an administrative rule that harms our industry. Legislative issues WBA is defending against, including a change in lien priority, additional regulatory burden in the form of new privacy rules or ESG/fair access concerns, or losing revenue in the form of interchange fees, individually or in combination, would be detrimental to the success of the banking industry if enacted into law.
With the 2024 election season quickly approaching, and campaign spending expected to break even more records, WBA set a goal of raising $300,000 in personal contributions to either Wisbankpac or the Alliance for Bankers Conduit (ABW) in 2023. As of this writing, we are at nearly 75% of this goal. With your help, we can replenish our political fundraising campaign coffers and support the elected officials and candidates who support you!
Your contributions — both monetary and grassroots support — make a tremendous difference. To learn more about all the ways you can help be a strong advocate for your bank and the industry, please visit wisbank.com/advocacy.