{{CFirstName}}, you are receiving this e-newsletter because you have shown interest in public policy issues. Contact us if you don't want to receive future issues.

Volume 5, Issue 52, May 15, 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


Last chance to register
Eggs & Issues: Washington Update with the US Chamber
   Join us for the latest on federal policy issues and their impact on business from John Kirchner, Vice President, Midwest Region, Congressional and Public Affairs Division, US Chamber of Commerce.
 * Insights into what's really happening in Washington that you won't see in the media. Learn how divided government impacts the political atmosphere, prospects for legislative action, and the outcome of specific issues like the debt ceiling debate. Learn what you can do to influence federal policies and how the US Chamber is working to combat political polarization.
 * The US Chamber's new LIBERTY Campaign (Legal Immigration and Border Enforcement Reform This Year) to advocate for improved border security and critical reform of the legal immigration system.
 * The federal role in solving workforce shortages; Prospects for federal permitting reform to improve predictability, efficiency, transparency, and stakeholder input; Efforts to address federal overreach from agencies like the FTC, SEC, CFPB, DOJ, EPA, and IRS; and the US Chamber's new tool to assess the public policy risks faced by businesses.
 • Friday, May 19, 7:00-8:30 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
    Click here for details and to register

Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast
 • Friday, June 16, 7:00-9:00 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
    Registration open soon

City Council President Reception
  The Chamber will host a reception in June for new City Council President Emily Berge, who was elected in April. There is no charge to attend, but advance registration is appreciated.
  • Tuesday, June 20, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Chamber offices
     Click here for details and to register

In this issue:
 • EC City Council: Allocates APRA funds, picks High Bridge for fireworks
 • Four apply for vacant EC District 1 City Council seat
 • Altoona City Council votes to annex 122 acres
 • EC County committee reviewing updated zoning provisions
 • UWEC holds free speech event as debate, legislative interest increases
 • "Where are they now?" - Chamber interns reflect on their experience
 • Wisconsin state budget deliberations continue
 • Title 42 ends as immigration debate heats up
 • 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 "+"


EC City Council: ARPA funds, picks High Bridge for fireworks 
City buying former bank drive-in on Farwell
   At its Legislative Session last Tuesday, the Eau Claire City Council agreed to allocations for most of its remaining American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and picked the High Bridge as the site for the 2023 July 4th fireworks display.
  The ARPA decision included funds discussed in two sessions of the Council: About $3 million of the remaining allocation discussed at the Council's April 24 Public Hearing for a series of priorities including affordable housing; services for the unhoused; initiatives that increase access, equity, and connection; and an inclusive community program (see pages 12-24 of the Council's April 24 Agenda Packet); and another $1 million that included set asides for acquisition of a day shelter, and for fiscal stability one time projects
 (see pages 11-17 of the Monday, May 8, Agenda Packet).
   During Council action on Tuesday, it deleted a proposed $20,000 to study publicly-owned land the city could consider selling for redevelopment because some members were concerned it could cover land in City Parks. That proposal may come back in modified form. 
$60,000 to study Transportation Utility Fee
   The Council also modified a proposal to include among the funds for fiscal stability projects the inclusion of $60,000 for a "Transportation Utility rate case study." 
The use of Transportation Utility Fees (TUF) by some municipalities in the state is the subject of current litigation questioning the statutory authority for their imposition. Business groups have strongly opposed TUFs because they disproportionally assess businesses for street costs. The Chamber last Monday morning contacted City Manager Stephanie Hirsch and each City Council member objecting to the allocation. The Council Tuesday passed a motion by Council Member Jeremy Gragert requiring the question to come back to the Council before a study would take place.
   The Chamber noted that, d
uring public discussions earlier this year about the proposed Local Vehicle Registration Fee, City officials said at that time that they had ruled out TUFs not only because of their questionably legality, but also because they would be a burden on businesses. According to the ARPA funding agenda information, the City wants to use $60,000 to study a possible transition to a TUF if courts rule in favor of its legality.
Fireworks decision goes to High Bridge
   The Council approved, on a 6-4 vote, a staff proposal to move the launch location of the July 4th fireworks to the High Bridge, primarily for safety and cost reasons. The traditional site is Carson Park, which the Eau Claire Express baseball team has urged be retained. A Council vote on April 25 tied 5-5 on the staff recommendation, but reconsidered its decision last week.
   The Council also approved the purchase of the former US Bank Drive Up location at 131 S. Farwell (see pages 198-223 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below), and the final plat by Grip Development for Cannery Crossing Townhomes at 2300 First St in the Cannery District (see pages 242-246 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet).
2024 Capital Budget discussions begin
   After Tuesday's Legislative Session, the Council held a work session to begin discussions of the 2024 Capital Budget. A larger-than-usual amount is expected, primarily because the City anticipates allocating $20 million for water plant projects to completely eliminate PFAS chemicals.
More information:
Eau Claire City Council
 • Monday, May 8, Public Hearing Agenda Packet (21 pages)
 • Tuesday, May 9, Legislative Session Agenda Packet (285 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)
Eau Claire's High Bridge chosen as July 4 fireworks site (Leader-Telegram $)
Eau Claire City Council approves 4th of July fireworks display for High Bridge (WEAU 13 News)
Shelter leaders ask city for 'intentional outreach' before allocating money for new facility (Leader-Telegram $)
THINKING OF LINKING: City’s Purchase of Bank Drive-Thru Will Connect City Hall, Library (Volume One)
City buying Farwell St drive-thru to create plaza in future (Leader-Telegram $)
PFAS work drives up city's plan for '24 capital projects (Leader-Telegram $)

Four candidates seek EC District 1 City Council appointment
City Council vote coming May 23
   Four candidates have applied for the open City Council District 1 seat, which became vacant when Emily Berge was elected in April to the City Council President position. Next Monday, the candidates will make a presentation to the City Council, which will then vote on the appointment at its Tuesday, May 23, Legislative Session. The new Council Member will take office on June 12 and serve until the April 2024 election.
   The four candidates are Joshua Zeug, Jessica Schoen, Randall DeMars, and Nicholas Webber. The Council also conducted 15-minute interviews with each candidate last week, which are now posted on the City's website. 
More information:
District 1 Council Vacancy website - including link to video interviews (City of Eau Claire)
Four hopefuls for Eau Claire City Council seat all have some local government experience (Leader-Telegram $)
Candidates present to Eau Claire City Council for open seat (WQOW News 18)
Eau Claire City Council interviews candidates for District 1 seat (WEAU 13 News)
Madame President: Emily Berge Takes Helm as E.C. City Council President (Volume One)

Chamber reception for new City Council President
   The Chamber will host a reception in June for new City Council President Emily Berge, who was elected in April. We also expect to invite the new District 1 City Council member, who takes office the week before. There is no charge to attend, but advance registration is appreciated.
 Tuesday, June 20, 4:00-5:30 p.m. Chamber offices
    Click here for details and to register

Altoona City Council votes to annex 122 acres
Eau Claire Chamber provides support letter
   The Altoona City Council last Thursday voted to approve a proposed annexation of 122 acres at the northeast side of the City, previously in the Town of Washington.
   Property owners Dale Planert and Frank Lippert requested the annexation. It is anticipated that the property will be developed into housing, potentially with 250 additional households based upon a memo from City Planning Director Taylor Greenwell. The annexation falls within the established Sewer Service Area and the City anticipates extending City services to the development. It already provides emergency services to the area.
   The Chamber provided a letter supporting the annexation because of the benefits of providing further needed housing supply for the community, consistent with the Housing Supply and Affordability section of the Chamber's 2023 Business Issues Agenda.
   "The proposed annexation is in the best interests of the City of Altoona and our wider community because it will foster the type of responsible development that will contribute in a positive way to our local housing needs. The City of Altoona is in the best position to provide the municipal services best suited for the property. It is a logical extension of the City considering the continued demand for housing in our area and Altoona’s positive reputation as a desirable community," wrote the Chamber.
   Some existing neighbors opposed the annexation. Town of Washington Administrator Janelle Henning spoke in opposition and sent letters opposing it. Henning said this and the another anticipated annexation would create "a patchwork of irregular borders" with the Town.
   The next step in the process is for the City of Altoona to consider zoning for the newly-annexed area.
More information:
May 11 City Council Meeting Agenda and Links (City of Altoona)
Video: May 11 Altoona City Council (1 hr, 2 min; City of Altoona)
Chamber Letter of Support (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)
Annexation agenda materials (City of Altoona, 31 pages)

EC County Planning & Development Committee will consider Home Builders concerns about proposed zoning code provision
   At a Public Hearing and committee meeting last Tuesday, the Eau Claire County Planning & Development Committee listened to concerns expressed by the C
hippewa Valley Home Builders Association (CVHBA) about a provision included in the proposed Eau Claire County zoning code update that would require subdivisions to have shared drinking water systems and/or shared wastewater treatment systems if they have lots smaller than 1.5 acres.
   The County is currently working on a comprehensive update of its zoning code intended to clarify and streamline it.
   CVHBA Executive Officer Christina Thrun says her organization supports encouraging developers to use these types of systems whenever possible, but mandating them in all circumstances could be a deterrent to homeowners and may create an adverse impact on creating new housing supply in the County. CVHBA says among its concerns are added costs and developer risk, the necessity of setting up Homeowner Association (HOAs) that may be undesirable to buyers, that such systems are not right for all topography, and may discourage conservation-oriented designs with set asides and small home lots. Thrun spoke at the hearing, along with CVHBA President Pat Smith, and builders Neil Haselwander and Paul Holzinger. Chamber VP Governmental Affairs Scott Rogers also spoke and provided a letter supporting CVHBA's concerns.
   During the hearing and discussion, the comments were well received by the committee and County Director of Planning & Development Rod Eslinger. He said staff members are in discussions with the Health Department and Board of Health regarding the best ways to ensure environmental requirement for new housing in the county. The committee voted to continue the public hearing to its next meeting on May 23.
More information:
Public Hearing, Eau Claire County Committee on Planning & Development
 • Tuesday, May 9, Agenda Packet
Summary of proposed zoning code changes (Eau Claire County)
View the Comprehensive Zoning Code Update (Eau Claire County)
Chamber letter (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

Meeting this week:

Eau Claire Board of Education
 • Monday, May 15, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet
Board of Education members and information

Altoona Board of Education 
 • Monday, May 15, 6:30 p.m., Agenda

Eau Claire Redevelopment Authority
 • Wednesday, Jun 17, 7:30 a.m. Agenda

Full public meetings calendar

UWEC holds free speech event as debate,
legislative interest increases
   Earlier this month, UW-Eau Claire's Menard Center for Constitutional Studies held a panel on the Future of Free Speech on Campus, a timely topic given debates playing out among campuses in Wisconsin and legislative interest in the rights of free speech on college campuses.
   The UWEC forum featured Donald Downs, professor emeritus at UW-Madison; Amna Khalid, associate professor at Carleton College; and Greg Lukianoff, the President and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE).
   The three panelists asserted that the state of free speech on college campuses is the worst it has been in years, and the pressure for censorship is coming from both inside and outside of universities.
   Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Assembly Colleges & Universities Committee has been holding a series of hearings, including one on April 20 at UWEC and one at the State Capitol in Madison last week. The interest comes after a survey of UW System students found most don’t feel free to share their opinions about controversial topics or are unwilling to consider views with which they disagree.
   At the April 20 hearing, UWEC Chancellor James Schmidt reiterated his institution's commitment to free expression:

   "I am convinced that this campus embodies the virtues of open inquiry and intellectual rigor that the UW System was founded on," said Schmidt, "Like all higher education institutions in the past several years, we have welcomed a new generation of students during a polarized political era. But, by maintaining our commitment to each individual’s right to be heard, I believe we have held true to the foundational principles that make higher education a unique environment for growth and exploration."
   Last week, students at UW-Madison demanded the expulsion of a student who posted a racist video. University officials said they would be unable to do that given the first amendment.
   “The mere fact that expression is hateful, or deeply offensive, or deeply disturbing does not make it unprotected by the First Amendment,” constitutional law expert Professor Howard Schweber told The Cap Times, “I think the university got this one right.”
More information:
Future of Free Speech on Campus Panel at UWEC (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)
Chancellor James Schmidt Remarks, April 20 (UWEC, as prepared for delivery)
UW-Madison can’t punish student for racist video, expert says (The Cap Times)
DEI symposium moved off Wisconsin medical campus due to 'disruptive conditions' (Wisconsin State Journal +)
UW System free speech survey shows students reluctant to speak, listen (The Cap Times)
UW System president bans mandatory diversity statements in hiring (The Cap Times)
Free speech, racial equity battles play out on Wisconsin college campuses (PBS Wisconsin)

Where are they now? Chamber Governmental Affairs Interns reflect on their experiences
Final week for 2022-23 interns Emily Johnston & Mallory Williams
   If you've attended an Eggs & Issues breakfast, participated in the Chippewa Valley Rally, or simply read this newsletter each week, you've benefited from the work of the Chamber's two Governmental Affairs Interns, Emily Johnston and Mallory Williams. With UWEC's Spring Semester ending on Friday, this marks the conclusion of their 2022-23 internships.
   The Chamber began the Governmental Affairs internship with UW-Eau Claire in the 1997-98 school year and has now had a total of 30 interns fill this position. In recent weeks, Emily and Mallory have been in touch with past interns, and created a compilation showing what many of those past interns are doing now and the value they received by working with the Chamber:
Where are they Now? Former interns reflect on their time at the Chamber (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

More local stories:

Over 3,300 graduating this month from area UW System campuses
(Leader-Telegram $)

E.C. Artisans Craft New Kiosk for Phoenix Park
(Volume One)

Hotel, Caribou Coffee among new additions to Chippewa Crossing
(Leader-Telegram $)

UK company planning to open battery facility in former EOG Resources sand plant
(Leader-Telegram $)

Chippewa Co administrator to receive new four-year contract
(Leader-Telegram $)

Leadership Eau Claire applications open through June 2
   The Eau Claire Chamber Educational Foundation is accepting applications for our Leadership Eau Claire™ Class of 2024.
   The goal of the program is to enhance participants’ community knowledge and leadership qualities through skill-building exercises, activities, and educational days. During the nine-month program, participants discuss the issues facing the community, develop the leadership skills necessary to assume leadership roles & are provided with opportunities to be further involved in our community.
   Click here for full information. Application deadline is June 2.


Joint Finance Committee resumes meetings this week
Debate continues on local shared revenue, Childcare advocates ramp up efforts
   The Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) resumes meeting this week, with sessions scheduled on Tuesday covering Circuit Courts, the Supreme Court, District Attorneys and the Public Defender; and on Thursday taking up Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the Environmental Improvement Fund and Natural Resources.
   Meanwhile, the debate continues on changes to shared revenue for local governments. Governor Tony Evers has threatened to veto legislation over restrictive provisions, although there are still expectations for negotiations before the proposal takes final shape.
   Childcare advocates also continue to push for state action to address the state's childcare crisis, with the advocacy group Raising Wisconsin pushing for a budget provision to continue funding the Child Care Counts program for families and care providers.
   The Chamber's 2023 Business Issues Agenda includes the following related to childcare:
   "The availability and affordability of childcare has become an increasingly acute issue for employers, families and childcare providers. This has inhibited the ability of families to take full advantage of employment opportunities and for employers to have full access to the potential talent pool." 
   The Chamber agenda asserts that "meaningful public policy solutions to address specific workforce challenges" include:
   "Childcare availability and affordability for working parents: There is an urgent need for innovation on the part of the state to address the funding, business model, and regulatory oversight of early childhood care and education in ways that will effectively deal with availability, affordability and accountability for quality and safety.  This, by necessity, must address the business model for childcare providers, especially in their ability to attract and retain motivated, high quality staff."

More information:
Tuesday Hearing Notice (JFC)
Thursday Hearing Notice (JFC)
Assembly committee backs GOP shared revenue bill along party lines as Republicans work on changes (WisPolitics.com)
Republicans talk shared revenue negotiations, Democrats talk veto (The Center Square)
‘Day Without Child Care’ puts a spotlight on budget provision to help providers, parents (Wisconsin Examiner)
Smith, Emerson implore need for state aid to child care centers (Leader-Telegram $)
Should Wisconsin fund child care like it does roads? Here are some solutions to the child care crisis (Wisconsin State Journal +)
Childcare investment state budget request (Raising Wisconsin)

More state and regional stories:

GOP lawmakers seeking cosponsors for reciprocal credentials bill (WisBusiness.com)

Advocacy group urges for BadgerCare expansion as part of state budget (Leader-Telegram $)

Brewers stadium deal in limbo as Milwaukee County leaders clash with state GOP on funding deal (WPR)

Gov. Evers Signs Bills to Address Carjacking and Reckless Driving in Wisconsin (Office of the Governor)

Wisconsin Governor Signs Bipartisan Bill to Expand Water Quality Protection Programs (Wisconsin Ag Connection)

Farmers react to Gov. Evers signing Wisconsin Act 5 (WEAU 13 News)

Judge to order state Elections Commission to rehear false electors complaint (WisPolitics.com)

Gilbert: What 30 years of voting history tells us about Wisconsin's shifting suburban vote (Journal-Sentinel +)

Health care a top issue for Wisconsinites, report finds (The Cap Times)

Interest in apprenticeships rising amid record participation, tight labor market (WisBusiness.com)

Dept. of Transportation: All aboard for rail planning (WisPolitics.com)

Funeral for slain St. Croix County sheriff’s deputy draws 3,000 mourners (AP)

Milwaukee leaders celebrate ‘topping off’ of $456 million convention center expansion (BizTimes)

Milwaukee is getting new development plans for downtown and Bay View. Here's what you need to know. (Journal-Sentinel $)

Twin Cities sales tax bump will fund affordable housing programs (AP)


As Title 42 expires, immigration debate heats up
US Chamber LIBERTY campaign launched to address border security, immigration reform
   The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched the LIBERTY Campaign (Legal Immigration and Border Enforcement Reform This Year) with a letter to members of Congress, calling on them to address the crisis at our border and the critical workforce shortage before the year’s end. The LIBERTY Campaign is comprised of over 430 business associations from all 50 states, spanning a host of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, restaurants, hospitality, retail, construction, agriculture, engineering, and food processing, among others.
  "The situation on our southern border can be described in one word: chaos," says the Chamber in an updated story. "For the first six months of this fiscal year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has tallied 1,223,067 border encounters on the southwest border. On a year-over-year basis, that’s 160,674 more encounters than over the same period last year."
   "Our current immigration system fails to meet the needs of businesses and imposes significant costs on American communities and our economy. Companies are experiencing significant workforce shortages, and as a result, companies of all sizes and across a host of industries are wrestling with the chronic problems caused by their inability to adequately tap into global talent to meet their needs. These issues can only be addressed with bipartisan Congressional action, and the LIBERTY Campaign is committed to working with all members of Congress who want secure borders and a modernized legal immigration system."
More information:
LIBERTY Campaign website
Coalition letter to Congress (US Chamber of Commerce)
U.S. Chamber and 430+ Business Groups Call for Action on Border Security and Legal Immigration (US Chamber of Commerce)
It's Time to Secure Our Borders and Expand Legal Immigration (US Chamber of Commerce)
Some US cities along the southern border say they have not seen a surge of migrants expected after expiration of Title 42 (CNN)
House and Senate diverge on immigration as border fears mount (Politico)
US House Republicans pass new asylum restrictions as Title 42 ends; Biden promises veto (AP)
House passes GOP border package, bill heads to Senate (NewsNation)

To learn more about immigration reform and other important federal issues, join us at our May breakfast with John Kirchner from the US Chamber:
Eggs & Issues: Washington Update with the US Chamber
 • Friday, May 19, 7:00 a.m. CVTC Business Education Center
    Click here for details and to register

More national and economic stories:

Wholesale prices rose just 0.2% in April, less than estimate as inflation pressures ease (CNBC)

Debt-Ceiling Talks Continue as Report Warns of Possible June Default (Wall Street Journal $)

Fed's Williams warns inflation still too high, will 'take time' to return to 2% (Fox Business)

Biden Administration Targets Power-Plant Emissions in New Climate Initiative (Wall Street Journal $)
U.S. Chamber Warns Proposed Powerplant Rule Could Threaten Reliability and Harm Economy (US Chamber of Commerce)

Workers Are Happier Than They’ve Been in Decades (Wall Street Journal $)
Labor shortages and shifting expectations lead to improvement for millions, survey shows

DeSantis in Iowa warns of GOP ‘culture of losing’ as weather sidelines Trump’s event in the state (AP)

Long popular in Asia, floating solar catches on in US (AP)

‘The Greenest Bullet Train In The World’: Wes Edens Wants To Kickstart U.S. High-Speed Rail With A Vegas-L.A. Line (Forbes +)

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: 
Eau Claire County COVID-19 Information Hub (Eau Claire City-County Health Department)

Mark your calendar:

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

Eggs & Issues: Washington Update with the US Chamber
 • Friday, May 19, CVTC Business Education Center

Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast
 • Friday, June 16, CVTC Business Education Center

EC City Council President Reception
 • Tuesday, June 20, Chamber office

The Chamber's Golf Day in Eau Claire
 • 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 G
overnmental Affairs, at 715-858-0616 or rogers@eauclairechamber.org

This email was sent on behalf of {{TCDisplayName}} located at {{TCADDRAddress1}}{{TCADDRAddress2}}{{TCADDRCity}}{{TCADDRStateProvince}} {{TCADDRPostalCode}}To unsubscribe click here. If you have questions or comments concerning this email contact {{TCDisplayName}} at {{TCEmailAddress}}.