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Volume 5, Issue 45, March 27, 2023
 Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, Eau Claire, Wis.

Published the first business day of each week

Business Advocate Past Issues

Public Meetings Calendar

Chamber Events Calendar

The Chamber's Advocacy Principles

The Chamber's Business Issues Agenda

Contact: Scott Rogers, VP Governmental Affairs



Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast

With the legislative session in full swing and biennial state budget deliberations underway, we've invited members of the State Assembly and Senate who represent the Chippewa Valley to give us an update and answer questions. Legislators expected to join us so far include Senators Jesse James (R-Altoona) and Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire), and Representatives Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire), Karen Hurd (R-Fall Creek), Warren Petryk (R-Eleva), and Rob Summerfield (R-Bloomer).

 • Friday, Mar 31, 7:00-9:00 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center

    Click here for more details and to register


Annual Chamber/UW-Eau Claire Business Community Breakfast

Wednesday, Apr 19, 7:00-8:30 a.m., UWEC Davies Center

   Click here for details and to register


Eggs & Issues: "State of the City - Altoona" 

Altoona Mayor Brendan Pratt and City Administrator Mike Golat lead a presentation highlighting the accomplishments of the City during the past year, and its priorities for the rest of this 2023.

 • Friday, Apr 21, 7:00-8:30 a.m., River Prairie Center

    Click here for more details and to register

In this issue: 

 • April 4 Election: Altoona & Eau Claire School Board Questionnaires
 • Eau Claire City Council: Orchard Hills annexation, Vehicle Registration Fee

 • State Building Commission deadlocks again on capital budget

 • Report: Wisconsin needs up to 227,000 more housing units by 2030

 • National and economic stories

 • Mark your calendar
Note on article links: A subscription is required for those marked with "$"
Publications known to have article limits for non-subscribers are marked with "+"


April 4 Election: Chamber Good Government Council Questionnaires for Altoona & Eau Claire School Board

Early voting weekdays March 21-31

   With the non-partisan spring election approaching on Tuesday, April 4, the Chamber has published its Good Government Council Questionnaires for the contested Altoona and Eau Claire School Board elections. The Chamber does not endorse candidates, but gives them an opportunity to assert their qualifications and answer questions about issues. In Altoona, there are three candidates for two positions, and in Eau Claire, there are four candidates for two positions. 

Click here to access the questionnaires:

Altoona School Board Questionnaire (Chamber Good Government Council)

Eau Claire School Board Questionnaire (Chamber Good Government Council)


What else is on your ballot

   The April 4 election also includes the race for a 10-year term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, two state Constitutional Amendments, a state advisory referendum, an Eau Claire County advisory referendum, and a tax levy referendum in the Altoona School District. 

   Uncontested local races include Eau Claire City Council President, for which the only candidate is current District 1 Council Member Emily Berge, and three district seats on the Altoona City Council, in which the incumbents are the only ones on the ballot.  

To register to vote and see what's on your ballot, click on: myvote.wi.gov

For more information about state and local elections, click on:

   The Chamber's Guide to the Spring Election (Eau Claire Chamber)


Election day and early voting

Early voting: Local municipalities offer early voting on weekdays through Friday, March 31. Click here for early voting information.

Election day: On Tuesday, April 4, polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Click on myvote.wi.gov to find your polling place.


More election information:

Referendum details and information (School District of Altoona)

Eau Claire Transit to offer free rides to the polls on spring election day (WEAU 13 News)

Video: Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Debate (WISN, 55 mins.)

Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates dispute one another's impartiality (WPR)

How cash bail laws are at stake on Wisconsin’s April ballot (AP)

Former Gov Tommy Thompson supports Workforce Referendum (Spectrum 1 News)


EC City Council: Orchard Hills annexation, Local Vehicle Registration Fee 

   Two major items on the agenda for the Eau Claire City Council this week are the proposed annexation of property from the Town of Washington for the proposed Orchard Hills development, and a vote on whether to impose a $30 Local Vehicle Registration Fee. Both will have Public Discussions on Monday evening followed by a vote at the Legislative Session on Tuesday.

   The annexation was originally approved by the City Council last year under procedures for a unanimous annexation. An Eau Claire County Judge recently vacated the annexation in response to a suit from the Town of Washington, which argued that park land included in the annexation belonging to Eau Claire County would have required the County to be part of the unanimous group. The new petition is under a provision that provides a process for annexation if a majority of owners request it. City staff recommends approval of the annexation. At its meeting last Monday, the Plan Commission deadlocked 4-4 on whether to recommend the annexation. (See pages 54-105 of the Monday Agenda Packet listed below, and the Plan Commission draft minutes on pages 217-221 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below.)

    The Chamber supports the annexation because of its potential to help address the housing shortage, and as the most responsible way to add housing as the city expands, providing more compact development with city services and less sprawl.

Local Vehicle Registration Fee

   The Council is considering a Local Vehicle Registration Fee of $30, which, if passed this week, would take effect on July 1. City officials say the proceeds would be used for transportation projects to reduce reliance on debt and potentially lower special assessments for street projects. (See pages 106-107 of he Monday Agenda Packet linked below.)

Cannery District townhomes

   The Council will also consider an amendment to the general development plan along First Street in the Cannery District for 20 three-story twin homes by Grip Development, which also includes vacating part of Second St. (See pages 5-51 of the Monday Agenda Packet.)

Eau Claire City Council

 • Monday, Mar 27, 7 p.m. Public Hearing Agenda Packet (108 pages)

 • Tuesday, Mar 28, 4 p.m. Legislative Session Agenda Packet (221 pages)

Link to videos of city meetings (City of Eau Claire)

City Council Online Comment Form (City of Eau Claire)

Contact information: City Council members (City of Eau Claire)

Plan Commission splits on annexation, to City Council next (Leader-Telegram $)

Eau Claire wheel tax proposal reaching public hearing, vote (Leader-Telegram $)

Q&A on Eau Claire's wheel tax proposal (Leader-Telegram $)


EC School Board to vote on Montessori contract, mental

health coverage changes

   The Eau Claire Board of Education meets Monday evening. Among items on its agenda are renewal of its contract with the Chippewa Valley Montessori Charter School, and expanding mental health coverage for employees.

   The Montessori contract renewal includes a requirement to develop an action plan to address its diversity. The 4k through 5th grade Montessori School currently serves 302 students, with a largest ever waiting list of 170. A lottery system is used to determine how enrollment slots are allocated. 11.6% of the students are non-white, an increase over the previous year. 

More information:

Eau Claire Board of Education

• Monday, Mar 27, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet

Board of Education members and information

EC school board approves CVMCS contract renewal terms (Leader-Telegram $)

EC school board to consider health insurance adjustments (Leader-Telegram $)


More local stories:


Group recognizes former state Sen. Kathy Bernier of Chippewa Falls for ethical leadership (La Crosse Tribune +)

Former State Sen. Bernier named 2023 LeaderEthics Award recipient (WQOW News 18)


Menomonie Market Co-op Development Gets Cooking (Volume One)


ChippewaValleyVolunteer.com (hosted by Visit Eau Claire)

Chippewa Valley has new one-stop volunteering shop (Leader-Telegram $)


(Almost) Time to Live It Up at These New Housing Options in The Valley (Volume One)


Eau Claire to host one of four State Budget Hearings

Tuesday, Apr 11 at UWEC

   The legislature's Joint Committee on Finance has announced that one of its four public hearings for the forthcoming biennial state budget will be held on Tuesday, April 11, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The other hearings will be April 5 in Waukesha, April 12 in Wisconsin Dells, and April 26 in Minocqua.  

   The public hearings will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude at 5 p.m. Attendees will be asked to fill out a form upon arrival to be added to the queue to testify.

   The JFC has also created an online portal for constituents to provide input. All entries will be circulated to the full committee: Budget comment portal 

More information:

JFC Co-Chairs Announce Dates, Locations of State Budget Public Hearings (Joint Committee on Finance)

Joint Finance Committee hearing scheduled at UW-Eau Claire on April 11 (UWEC)

UW-EC will host April 11 state budget hearing (Leader-Telegram $)


Evers' budget proposes $6.6 billion one-time investments

    According to an analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers' budget outlines nearly $6.6 billion in proposals that would be funded on a one-time basis. Among the most significant are those that comprise about $2 billion in his capital budget. The other uses of one-time funds include $750 million for broadband expansion grants, a $500 million transfer to the budget stabilization fund, a $495 million increase to the statutory balance, $379.4 million to pay off transportation bonds, $300 million for investment and capital grants programs, and $290 million to the body that oversees the Milwaukee Brewers stadium.

See the full list in the LFB memo (Legislative Fiscal Bureau)

For the third straight budget, State Building

Commission ties 4-4 on Evers' capital proposals

   For the third budget in a row, the Wisconsin State Building Commission, on a series of 4-4 party line tie votes, last week sent Governor Tony Evers' proposed capital budget to the legislature without a recommendation.

   The Legislature's Join Committee on Finance will now take up the budget during its deliberations. 

More information:

State Building Commission deadlocks on guv’s capital budget again (WisPolitics.com)

Republicans reject Gov. Tony Evers' $3.8 billion plan for building projects, but it's not over yet. Here's what happens next. (Journal-Sentinel +)


More state and regional stories:


Wisconsin’s new secretary of state Godlewski surprised by appointment (AP)


Wisconsin lawmakers pass bills aimed at reckless driving (WPR)


The Wisconsin Historical Society shows its plans for a new historical center on Capitol Square (WQOW News 18)


Four reasons Minnesota’s roads are so riddled with potholes, and what we could be doing about it (MinnPost)


Report: State needs up to 227,000 more housing units by 2030

   A new report from Forward Analytics, A Housing Hurdle: Demographics Drive Need for More Homes, warns that a housing shortage in Wisconsin is likely to increase over the next 10 years.

   Due to unfavorable demographics and the recent slowdown in home construction, Wisconsin could be facing a severe workforce housing shortage in the next few years. The new study finds that Wisconsin needs to build up to 227,000 new housing units during this decade to solve all of its housing needs.

According to the new study, finding affordable housing is going to be increasingly difficult for young people as the large baby boom generation retires but remains in their homes for another 15 years or more. This effectively shrinks the available workforce housing stock.

   “Growing housing in the next 10 years is crucial for Wisconsin to retain workers,” said Forward Analytics Director Dale Knapp. “And, if the state is to attract new families to solve its workforce problem, it will need to build an additional 60,000 or more housing units on top of the 140,000.”

   “If entry-level housing was more affordable, as many as 52,000 young people could have joined the housing market in 2020,” Knapp said. “However, this study shows that another 20,000 to 30,000 affordable housing units are needed to solve the housing challenges facing many young adults.”

Eau Claire area Housing Study underway

   Locally, Eau Claire County, along with the Cities of Altoona and Eau Claire, have have partnered to undertake a Regional Housing Study. The study will examine housing market conditions across Eau Claire County to identify issues and opportunities that the County and its communities, including Eau Claire and Altoona, may seek to address in the future. Its findings are expected to be released later this spring. 

More information: 

Report: A Housing Hurdle: Demographics Drive Need for More Homes (Forward Analytics)

Eau Claire Regional Housing Study website


National and economic news:


Home sales spike 14.5% in February as the median price drops for the first time in over a decade (CNBC)


U.S. Jobless Claims Fell 1K to 191K in March 18 Week (MarketWatch)


Rep. Derrick Van Orden introduces 2 Veterans’ Affairs Bills (WEAU 13 News)


The era of impossible subscription cancellations is nearing an end (Vox)


'Live free and die'? The sad state of U.S. life expectancy (NPR)


Getting ‘Forever Chemicals’ Out of the Water Supply (The Morning Dispatch)


Economic Viewpoints - current key indicators (US Chamber of Commerce)


The Flip Side: Collection of Right and Left viewpoints on national issues


COVID-19 Updates 


COVID-19 Resources: 

COVID-19 Symptoms & Testing (EC City-County Health Department)
Local COVID-19 Testing Sites (EC City-County Health Department)
Interactive COVID Data Tracker (CDC)
COVID-19: Staying Safe in Your Community (EC City-County Health Dept.)
Eau Claire County COVID-19 Information Hub 
Eau Claire weekly COVID Situation Report 
Eau Claire County COVID-19 Vaccination Page 
Metrics Dashboard
Chippewa Valley COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force


Mark your calendar:


29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally

 • Wednesday, March 29, Madison


Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast

 • Friday, Mar 31, CVTC Business Education Center


Spring Non-Partisan Election

Election 2023: Guide to the Spring Election (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

 • Tuesday, April 4 


2023 Human Resource Conference

 • Thursday, April 6, The Florian Gardens 


Annual Chamber/UW-Eau Claire Business Community Breakfast

• Wednesday, Apr 19, UWEC Davies Center


Eggs & Issues: State of the City - Altoona

 • Friday, April 21, River Prairie Center


Chamber Royale

 • Thursday, May 18, Eau Claire Golf & Country Club


The Chamber's Annual Golf Outing

 • Monday, August 7, 2023


Public Meetings Calendar

Click the link above for the our regularly updated schedule of public meetings.


Thanks for reading this issue of Business Advocate. If you have comments or questions, contact Scott Rogers, Vice President Governmental Affairs, at 715-858-0616 or rogers@eauclairechamber.org