By Lorenzo Cruz
With the start of the new year, many of us have taken time to reflect upon the accomplishments of the last year. For the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) and our members, 2023 was full of success. Of note, our team of dedicated banking advocates helped to secure a historic victory in the state budget, which will save the industry tens of millions of dollars annually through a state tax exemption on certain commercial and ag purpose loans. Without the grassroots and financial advocacy support of the membership, this monumental achievement would not have been possible. So, as you begin to consider your resolutions for the year ahead, I hope that you consider actively engaging in WBA’s political advocacy efforts in 2024.
As always, there are a plethora of ways for bankers to be involved with WBA’s advocacy efforts to aid in shaping the future of our industry. Being an election year, it is ever so important that bankers are present to make their voices heard. Capitol Day, the Association’s most important and largest advocacy event of the year, will take place on February 22 in Madison at the Monona Terrace. The one-day event is a great opportunity for all bankers, regardless of advocacy experience, to gain insight on policy issues impacting the Wisconsin banking industry and make direct connections with their elected legislators. These meetings, which occur in small groups based on Assembly or Senate district, are an effective way for WBA and the membership to share our legislative priorities with policymakers.
On the financial front, it is no secret that election years bring with them political campaigns that are skyrocketing in cost. Being “B” for “Banker,” it is more important than ever that we are prepared to support pro-banking candidates on both sides of the aisle.
At the individual level, bankers should consider becoming a member of the Silver Triangle Club or Leadership Circle by making a personal contribution to Wisbankpac or the Alliance of Bankers Conduit (ABW). At the bank level, an organization can achieve Gold Triangle recognition by meeting certain aggregate contribution amounts to the PAC and ABW. These contribution levels are based on the asset size of the bank.
After the big win in the budget, the WBA government relations team continues to lobby at the State Capitol in support of our top three priorities: elder fraud, financial institution modernization, and trust code updates. Our team is also playing defense on issues regarding privacy, Merchant Category Codes (MCC), Environmental Social Governance (ESG), and credit card swipe fees.
As the Legislature turns its focus on passing legislation over the next three months, WBA calls upon our members to remain engaged in the process both financially and on a grassroots level. Political activism allows our collective voice to stand out and be heard.