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Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

Since the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s (WBA) inception 130 years ago, advocating on behalf of Wisconsin bankers has been one of our top priorities. WBA reaches across aisles, supporting pro-banking legislators and candidates, with the goal of advocating for and supporting the banking industry.

With Wisconsin’s general election quickly approaching in November and the primary just next week on August 9, I wish to remind all Wisconsin bankers of the importance of not only participating in these two elections, but ultimately making your voice heard on behalf of our industry.

This year, the American Bankers Association (ABA) is once again promoting their “Get Out the Vote” initiative which assists in educating voters on banking issues. I encourage you to visit the ABA’s site to make sure you are registered to vote, know the candidates on your ballot, and where your polling locations are. ABA has also created a toolkit for banks to share with employees to promote voter participation.

As we know, Wisconsin’s election battleground regularly takes the national spotlight and with candidates looking to flip the ballot for several major state offices — Governor, U.S. Senate, and some state Assembly seats, to name a few — little is expected to change this year. In addition to making your voice heard through casting your vote next week (and in November), I encourage bankers to actively participate in our advocacy initiatives in two additional ways.

Take Your Legislator to Work

As WBA’s over 100 Advocacy Officers can attest, the most effective way of advocating for our industry is to meet with legislators in person. Taking this one step further, “Take Your Legislator to Work Day” visits not only allow decision makers to hear about the great work bankers do each day in their communities but see it for themselves.

Your direct involvement in hosting legislators not only assists our elected government officials in further understanding the community banking industry and the impact legislation has on our operations, but also offers an in-depth perspective into Wisconsin’s economy as well as the successes and challenges many of our communities face.

The WBA Government Relations team stands ready to assist your bank in engaging in advocacy-related events, including working with you to schedule a “Take Your Legislator to Work Day” at your bank. If you would like to host, or learn more about hosting a visit, please contact Lorenzo Cruz, vice president – government relations, or me.

Political Contributions

WBA is not concerned with “D” or “R”, but rather “B” as in the “Banking” party. Donating to WBA’s political action funds in support of pro-banking candidates is an easy and significant way to further promote WBA’s legislative agenda and bankers throughout the state.

Wisbankpac is WBA’s registered political action committee. Wisbankpac supports pro-banking candidates throughout Wisconsin by pooling individual banker contributions in order to maximize the overall impact. The Alliance of Bankers for Wisconsin (ABW) — WBA’s state conduit — allows individuals to direct contributions to the candidate(s) of their choosing.

I greatly appreciate your past support and active involvement in WBA’s various advocacy initiatives; however, as with everything else, we need your engagement to continue at an even higher level. It would be ideal if an additional six to eight “Take Your Legislator to Work Day” visits were scheduled between now and December. Furthermore, WBA has a goal of raising $300,000 in our political accounts this calendar year, which will require greater participation than what has occurred in the past. If you are interested in contributing to WBA’s political action funds — be it Wisbankpac or ABW — or learning more about how to contribute, please visit wisbank.com/Give or contact me. Together we will continue to achieve successes for our industry!

By John Cronin

2022 is here. For all of you who made New Year’s resolutions, I hope they remain intact or on track. From a Government Relations standpoint, our goals remain relatively unchanged; we are still striving to accomplish portions of our legislative agenda before the Legislature adjourns for the year in March.

Whether in person or on Zoom, I often get confused looks when I say the Legislature is wrapping up its activity for the rest of the year in March. “Aren’t these people supposed to be working for us year-round?!” The answer is yes, but they’ll stop meeting for floor sessions and committee meetings on bills and resolutions. But don’t worry, legislative staff work year-round on research and constituent service.

So why will state legislative activity come to a halt in just a few weeks? It is an election year! And a very significant one at that. Believe it or not, candidates are going to be on the campaign trail in April already, a full seven months ahead of the general election on November 8. This is Wisconsin after all; we live in a purple state and from the bottom of the ticket to the top, races will be resource-intensive and highly competitive.

WBA and our member bankers will certainly be interested observers for many state and federal races this fall. We will also be supporting pro-banking candidates whose interests are aligned with those of our industry.

With that, I would like to highlight a few key races, and take a way-too-early look at what we may wake up to and see in the news on November 9.

U.S. Senate
As I write this column, Sen. Ron Johnson has just announced that he will seek a third term in the U.S. Senate. Johnson’s decision was one nearly every political observer in Wisconsin was waiting for. Given the split in the U.S. Senate and the competitiveness of this race, Johnson’s bid will ensure the national, political spotlight will remain on Wisconsin. Sen. Johnson is a polarizing figure for sure, but Republicans are enjoying a 2010-esque tailwind in the political environment right now. If that holds, I can see Johnson retaining his seat by a razor thin margin.

Governor
Johnson’s announcement will undoubtedly have a ripple effect on races down the ticket and could play a role in the state’s other high profile race — Governor. I predict odds-on favorite Rebecca Kleefisch will be the GOP nominee facing off against incumbent Democrat Gov. Tony Evers. Since defeating Scott Walker three years ago, Evers has not done much to upset the apple cart in the eyes of the public and will benefit from being the incumbent. He has also delivered on key topics such as increased education funding and tax relief. Kleefisch will be running on her experience and accomplishments during the eight years she was Lieutenant Governor and has already rolled out a concise, but high energy approach to the campaign. Kleefisch will benefit from statewide name recognition and the same strong GOP tailwinds. I’m going to weasel out and put this in the too-close-to-call bucket for now.

Redistricting
Lastly, let’s take a quick look at the Legislature, where the GOP holds a 61-38 edge in the Assembly, and a 21-12 margin in the Senate; strong majorities but not quite veto-proof. The redistricting process remains before the courts, but the GOP has achieved wins that point to generally favorable outcomes for the maps they drew and passed before they were vetoed by the Governor. If the political climate holds, I predict the GOP will pick up additional legislative seats this fall and extend their majorities.

It is going to be an action-packed year, and I’m confident we will see some of the most expensive races in Wisconsin history this fall. Our political “coverage” will continue to ramp up, so stay tuned to all of WBA’s publications for the latest.

Events

A fundamental study of how money functions in the U.S. and world economies. How money supply, the banking system, the Federal Reserve and the federal government are all interrelated, and how changes in the financial system can affect individuals, businesses, and governments on a world-wide basis are covered.

The required textbook for this course is Money and Banking.

IMPORTANT:  Be sure to order the required book for this course.  We recommend that you FIRST select and add your course session to the shopping cart, then select your preferred format of book from the “Recommended Training” options that appear alongside the shopping cart.

Audience: Bank personnel who have not had a formal course in money and banking and who wish to increase their understanding of the banking industry; officer trainees through the mid-management level.

Price: $430

A fundamental study of how money functions in the U.S. and world economies. How money supply, the banking system, the Federal Reserve and the federal government are all interrelated, and how changes in the financial system can affect individuals, businesses, and governments on a world-wide basis are covered.

The required textbook for this course is Money and Banking.

IMPORTANT:  Be sure to order the required book for this course.  We recommend that you FIRST select and add your course session to the shopping cart, then select your preferred format of book from the “Recommended Training” options that appear alongside the shopping cart.

Audience: Bank personnel who have not had a formal course in money and banking and who wish to increase their understanding of the banking industry; officer trainees through the mid-management level.

Price: $430