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Ken Thompson HeadshotBy Kenneth D. Thompson

As my time as WBA Chair comes to a close on May 31, and I prepare to hand the baton over to Daniel Peterson, I wish to reflect upon the remarkable efforts bankers throughout our state have made this year to ensure the success of our industry. Even as we continue to feel the residual impacts of the pandemic, Wisconsin bankers continue to face every challenge in stride and stand as trusted partners in their communities.

 

Advocacy

This year, over 100 bankers from around the state attended WBA’s annual Capitol Day at the State Capitol in Madison. In addition to hearing from Wisconsin political leaders, bankers met with legislators to convey how issues like credit union expansion, banking regulatory modernization, interchange fee legislation, and elder fraud directly impact their local economies and consumers.

Similarly, many bankers have testified on several WBA key issues in the last year. Your grassroot involvement was critical in preventing bills such as those allowing for the expansion of credit unions from moving past either House. Your engagement in testifying, commenting, and supporting WBA’s efforts further unites our industry.

Education

As bankers continue to embrace new post-pandemic realities, WBA staff too is learning and shifting to best meet the needs of WBA members. Between new hybrid approaches to specific conferences and events geared at keeping our bankers informed — thousands of bankers from throughout the state have benefited from WBA’s adaptability in times of uncertainty which has allowed banks across the state to continue to grow and embrace each challenge faced.

These challenges, though difficult, have also been extremely rewarding. Bankers have shown their innovation and flexibility not only for the sake of their team members, but for their communities. This year, over 100 banks participated in WBA’s fifth annual Power of Community Week to engage with members of their communities through various service events. Throughout the year, the efforts bankers make in establishing connections within the communities they serve prove valuable in aiding the financial wellbeing of our neighbors. Additionally, your efforts assist in shaping the public’s opinion of the banking industry — a valuable perspective to hold especially as we approach election season — continue to explore new ways of embracing technology, and evolve as an industry.

I would also like to extend a sincere ‘thank you’ to WBA President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels and her staff — I speak for many of us when I say I am deeply grateful for the work that the association does for the banking community in Wisconsin and beyond.

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Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

As the 2021–2022 legislative sessions come to a close next month, our Government Relations team at the Wisconsin Bankers Association have been working tirelessly to ensure that the voices and needs of our member banks are heard by our legislators both in Madison and in Washington, D.C.

Grassroots advocacy is foundational to our work at WBA. On January 18, over 100 bankers from across the state met at the State Capitol in Madison for WBA’s annual Capitol Day. Along with advocating for our legislative agenda, bankers had the opportunity to hear from the elected leadership from both parties and several insiders regarding the remainder of the 2021–2022 session and the upcoming November election. I want to thank all of the 2022 Cap Day attendees for your grassroots advocacy for our industry and continued efforts in keeping our legislators informed.

Along with your general advocacy in support of issues affecting our industry, the efforts of WBA-member bankers specifically on the WBA-led banking modernization bill directly helped in this bill clearing two significant hurdles just last week. On Tuesday, the full State Senate unanimously passed SB 596 on a voice vote. Then on Wednesday, the Assembly Committee on Financial Institutions recommended the bill for passage on a 9–0 vote. I am incredibly grateful to bill authors Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and Rep. Terry Katsma (R-Oostburg) for their efforts in advancing this important legislation. The bill is now eligible to be voted on by the full State Assembly, the final step before it would head to Gov. Evers for signature.

This spring, WBA will also be joining both the American Bankers Association (ABA) and Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) for our spring Washington, D.C. visits. These summits, taking place March 7–9 and May 1–4 respectively, are critical in making your voice heard by policymakers in Washington, D.C. Please let me know if you are interested in attending one of these two key summits at your earliest convenience.

2022 is off to a fast start on policy matters and the hectic pace is only expected to continue as we approach several high-profile elections later this year. As always, I know that your grassroots involvement will not only help us shape the future of our industry, but, also, assist us in advocating successfully for the banking industry throughout the remainder of the year.

Each day, bankers work for the economic wellbeing of their customers and communities. On January 18, those efforts were brought to the forefront at the State Capitol. Over 100 bankers attended WBA Capitol Day (a.k.a. “Cap Day”) in Madison; for some, it was the first-time stepping foot into a legislator’s office, and for others, it was an opportunity to build on established relationships with their elected officials.

The day kicked off at the Monona Terrace with a panel discussion moderated by WisPolitics President Jeff Mayers. Participants heard straight from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer, and Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley. Discussion topics included: an outlook for the final two months of the legislative session, the state’s economy, the impact the COVID pandemic continues to have on their communities and constituencies, and ways the Legislature can work to address workforce issues.

Scott Jensen and Chuck Chvala, “The Insiders,” covered many political topics and focused on what this fall’s election likely has in store. They covered the Governor’s race, the US Senate race, and how the candidates in those races will affect other races down the ballot. They also took us back in time to the Tommy Thompson heyday several times to illustrate how much Wisconsin politics has changed over the last 25 years.

Over the lunch hour, Department of Revenue Secretary Peter Barca provided perspective on the state’s economy and outlines several of Gov. Tony Evers’ ongoing priorities as we enter the final year of his first term.

The WBA Government Relations team gave a rundown of state legislative topics, a state government 101 review, and an overview of key 2022 political races to watch. After the prep session was complete, participants headed to the Capitol to advocate on key issues with the unique perspectives only bankers can provide. Legislators learned directly from bankers how issues like credit union expansion, banking regulatory modernization, credit card swipe fees, and elder financial exploitation affect their local economies and constituents.

Thank you to the attendees and sponsors — Bankers’ Bank, FHLBank Chicago, the KeyState Companies, Mastercard, and Visa — who made the event a success! This event is the culmination of the work that the WBA Government Relations staff, Government Relations Committee, Advocacy Officers, and civically engaged bankers do year-round. The positive impact is evident in the feedback WBA receives from legislators and bankers alike — Capitol Day makes a difference!

Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

Grassroots advocacy is at the foundation of WBA’s advocacy efforts to ensure that elected officials in Wisconsin and Washington D.C. understand the impact of their initiatives on the banking industry. The relationships that many of you develop with your representatives play a critical role in the success of WBA’s advocacy priorities. As part of our grassroots advocacy, WBA’s hosts an annual Capitol Day in Madison to help bankers around the state connect with their legislators on issues important to the industry and on actions our government can take to aid in the economic growth and strength of our communities.

As our 2022 Capitol Day quickly approaches, I invite you to join your fellow bankers in meeting face-to-face at the State Capitol to advocate on several key issues affecting the banking industry this session. Few Wisconsin legislators have experience in banking and your grassroot involvement is essential in reinforcing the impact legislative proposals will have on your bank, the industry, and your communities.

As we have mentioned in other publications, there will a public hearing on the credit union powers’ bill — SB 451 — on January 11, just one week before WBA’s Capitol Day. The timing of your attendance and conversations with legislators and their staff will be critical in helping us either defeat any further progress made or amend the bill. Moreover, the credit union industry is hosting their annual Capitol Day a week after ours, so it is imperative that we have a strong showing of bankers on January 18 to offset the large numbers we expect the credit union industry to have present at their event.

The event includes hearing from several State Assembly and Senate leaders, moderated discussions with political insiders Scott Jensen and Chuck Chvala, and WBA’s Government Relations update on the legislative session thus far. This information will provide every attendee the knowledge needed to be prepared for the afternoon of meeting face-to-face with your elected legislators in meetings WBA will schedule.

Again, the relationships bankers build at Capitol Day assist us in advocating successfully for the banking industry throughout the year. I hope you and/or others from your team will join me and your fellow bankers at the State Capitol in Madison on January 18 for WBA’s annual Capitol Day.

WBA Capitol Day January 18, 2022

By John Cronin

The holiday season will soon be upon us. Time with friends and family replete with delicious food, beverages, and treats. These are some of the most exciting weeks of the calendar and include days many of us wait the whole year for. At WBA, we have several high-profile occasions we wait the whole year for, too. In the Government Relations department, Capitol Day takes the cake for us as the most important event we coordinate each year.

So while you’re making your holiday plans, be sure to make a plan to attend WBA’s annual Capitol Day, which will be held just a few short weeks later on Tuesday, January 18. After two years of virtual programing due to COVID-19, I am happy to announce we are returning to an in-person format this year.

In the morning, WBA will be coordinating a panel discussion with legislative leaders and presentations by executive agencies. During lunch, attendees will hear The Insiders — former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen and former Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala — provide perspective on the 2022 elections. In the afternoon, we will go as a group to the State Capitol to meet with legislators on our key issues.

By holding our Capitol Day on January 18, our timing could not be better. The Legislature will conclude its activities for the 2021–22 legislative session next March, and therefore, we are entering the home stretch. There won’t be a better time to have this critical touchpoint with legislators as we look to drive home our arguments on several key topics. The adage “strength in numbers” could not ring truer for an event like this; we want to have as wide a reach as we possibly can!

Meeting face to face with our elected representatives gives us the opportunity to convey the role and value of our industry in the communities they serve. That in turn sets the stage for
relaying our legislative priorities; these may be law or policy changes we need enacted to remain successful, or defense against threats that would negatively impact our members and industry.

Bankers are also trusted members of the communities our elected officials represent. Capitol Day visits create valuable networking opportunities for our members with legislators as well as peer bankers.

We hope to see many of you on January 18 in Madison!

 

The Wisconsin Bankers Association Advocacy Officer list just crested 100, and we are looking for 25 additional banks to designate an Advocacy Officer by the end of the year. The Advocacy Officer program is a leadership opportunity to coordinate regulatory, legislative, and community advocacy efforts for the bank by working with WBA. Advocacy Officers work with other bankers, WBA staff, state, local, and federal levels of government, and other state or national trade groups.

A major event for Advocacy Officers will be the upcoming WBA Capitol Day in Madison on January 18, 2022. Participants will receive training and support to meet with their elected officials in the State Capitol and share their stories about how legislative issues impact their professions and their communities. While this is an important opportunity for Advocacy Officers, you do not need to be an Advocacy Officer to participate in WBA Capitol Day.

If your bank has not yet designated an Advocacy Officer, consider someone who has an interest in public policy, a strong understanding of the banking industry (compliance, credit, external relations, etc.), the ability to speak for the bank on matters of regulatory or public policy, and a fairly flexible schedule that is at their own discretion.

More advocacy officer voices speaking together as one to advance WBA’s legislative agenda can make a meaningful impact on very important issues like credit union expansion of powers and interchange fee prohibition.

Thank you to the banks that have already signed up to participate in the Advocacy Officer program:

American Bank of Beaver Dam
American National Bank – Fox Cities
Associated Bank
Badger Bank
Bank Five Nine
Bank of Lake Mills
Bank of Luxemburg
Bank of Mauston
Bank of Milton
Bank of Prairie du Sac
Bank of Sun Prairie
Bank of Wisconsin Dells
Bankers’ Bank
Baraboo State Bank
BLC Community Bank
Bluff View Bank
BMO Harris Central National Association
Bristol Morgan Bank
Capitol Bank
Charter Bank
Citizens Bank
Citizens First Bank
Citizens State Bank
Citizens State Bank of La Crosse
Citizens State Bank of Loyal
Commerce State Bank
Community Bank of Cameron
Community First Bank
Community State Bank
Cornerstone Community Bank
Dairy State Bank
Denmark State Bank
East Wisconsin Savings Bank
Farmers & Merchants Bank of Kendall
Farmers & Merchants State Bank
First Business Bank
First Citizens State Bank
First Community Bank Milton
First Federal Bank of Wisconsin
First Midwest Bank
First National Community Bank
First State Bank
Flagstar Bank, FSB
Fortifi Bank
Forward Bank
GreenLeaf Bank
Greenwoods State Bank
Horicon Bank
Hustisford State Bank
Incrediblebank
Independence State Bank
Intercity State Bank
Investors Community Bank
Ixonia Bank
John Deere Financial, F.S.B.
Johnson Bank
JPMorgan Chase Bank
Ladysmith Federal Savings and Loan Association
Laona State Bank
mBank
MidWestOne Bank
Monona Bank
Mound City Bank
National Exchange Bank and Trust
Nicolet National Bank
North Shore Bank
Northwestern Bank
Oak Bank
Old National Bank
One Community Bank
Oostburg State Bank
Park Bank
Partners Bank of Wisconsin
Peoples State Bank
PNC Bank
Premier Community Bank
PyraMax Bank, FSB
Quad City Bank and Trust
River Falls State Bank
Royal Bank
SENB Bank
Settlers Bank
Spring Bank
State Bank Financial
State Bank of Chilton
State Bank of Cross Plains
The Bank of Brodhead
The Bank of New Glarus
The Equitable Bank, S.S.B.
The Farmers State Bank of Waupaca
The Huntington National Bank
The International Bank of Amherst
The Park Bank
The Peoples Community Bank
The Pineries Bank
The Port Washington State Bank
The Stephenson National Bank and Trust
Tomahawk Community Bank
Town Bank
U.S. Bank National Association
Unity Bank
Waldo State Bank
Waukesha State Bank
Wells Fargo Bank
Westbury Bank
Wisconsin Bank & Trust
Wolf River Community Bank
WoodTrust Bank