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Volume 6, Issue 42, Mar 4, 2024
 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 2024 Business Issues Agenda
"Talking Po!nt" Podcast
Contact: Scott Rogers, VP Governmental Affairs


In this issue:
• Governor uses line item veto to modify $15 million healthcare bill
 • Chippewa Valley Rally brings 120 to Madison
 • Employers: Local Youth Apprenticeship Interview Days Mar 12 & 14
 • Evers vetoes GOP tax cut bills
 • Biden signs extension to avoid government shutdown
  Super Tuesday primaries this week
 • Food for thought
 • Mark your calendar
Note on article links: A subscription is required for those marked with "$"
Publications known to have article limits for non-subscribers are marked with "+"


Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast
We've invited members of the State Assembly and Senate who represent the Chippewa Valley to join us for a final update on the current legislative session. We'll get a recap and perspective on how key regional economic priorities fared in the legislature, and discuss still-pending issues that are likely to carry over to the next session.
 • Friday, Mar 15, 7:00-9:00 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
Click here for details and to register

Eggs & Issues: The State of the City - Altoona
Altoona Mayor Brendan Pratt, City Administrator Mike Golat, and members of the City's leadership team will lead a presentation highlighting the accomplishments of the City of Altoona during the past year and its priorities, challenges, and opportunities for the rest of 2023.
 • Friday, Apr 12, 7:00-8:30 a.m., River Prairie Center
Click here for details and to register

Chamber Business Hours:
Mon-Thu 7:30a-5p, Friday 8a-2p


Evers signs $15 million healthcare funding legislation,
modified with vetoes

   Governor Tony Evers last Wednesday signed legislation to make $15 million in state funds available to deal with the healthcare crisis in the Chippewa Valley, but altered it through his veto pen.
   SB 1014 and SB 1015 as written would have transferred $15 million
in unspent state funds from the state building fund to the general fund and established authority for the Department of Health Services (DHS) to provide grants for local emergency rooms, subject to approval by the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance (JFC).
   Evers announced his action on the bills during his luncheon speech to the Chippewa Valley Rally in Madison last Wednesday. He used his line item veto authority to modify the fiscal bill, SB 1015, to broaden eligibility for the funds, and vetoed in its entirety SB 1014, the bill establishing the use of the funds. He then directed DHS to submit a request to JFC to establish a grant process for eligible hospitals and hospital services, with priority for hospitals in Eau Claire and Chippewa Counties.
   The DHS request specifies that recipients must agree to expand capacity at hospitals that accept all payor types, including any of the following services: Increase Emergency Department capacity/service, expand Urgent Care Services, expand Inpatient Psychiatric Unit accepting adults and/or adolescents, expand Inpatient OB/GYN services, expand mental health and/or substance use services, and/or expand or establish hospital-owned and operated ambulance service to transfer patients to an appropriate patient care setting.
   The bills passed the Senate on February 20 and the Assembly on February 22. Local Republicans who proposed the legislation, including Sen. Jesse James (R-Altoona), said the narrower definition of eligible services was the best they could get passed by the legislature. Most Democrats voted no on SB 1014, arguing that the uses needed to be expanded.
   Back in the 2021-22 budget, the state approved $15 million for HSHS to expand their psychiatric mental health bed capacity. HSHS never came to claim those funds, and the money was still waiting to be dispersed.
   What's next: DHS has submitted its parameters to JFC for proposed grants. The next step is up to JFC to determine if they agree with DHS' proposed program or wish to make changes. In the meantime, potentially eligible local entities are expected to develop proposals on how the funds might be most effectively used.
   The Eau Claire Chamber was among a number of organizations who favored passage of the legislation as one step to help mitigate the effects of the coming closures of HSHS and Prevea facilities in the region.
   “We want to thank all of the State Representatives and State Senators from the Chippewa Valley Area for the work they did to bring these bills to the Governor’s desk so he could sign them and make the funds available,“ said Chamber President and CEO Dave Minor.
More information:
Gov. Evers Approves Bill Securing $15 Million in Crisis Response Resources to Support Healthcare Access in Western Wisconsin After Recent Hospital Closure Announcements (News release, Office of the Governor)

Governor's Veto Message (Office of the Governor)
Final Text: SB 1015 (now Act 97 w/partial veto, Wisconsin Legislature)
DHS request letter to Join Finance Committee (Wisconsin DHS)
News coverage:
Evers approves $15 million for healthcare services (Leader-Telegram $)

Gov. Evers signs bill giving $15M to western Wisconsin hospitals, expands funds beyond ERs (WQOW News 18)
Gov. Tony Evers approves grant money for western Wisconsin hospitals; Republicans balk at expansion (Wisconsin State Journal $)
Evers signs bill to help Chippewa Valley hospitals, uses line-item veto (Wisconsin Examiner)
Sen. James celebrates hospital funding, concerned veto excessively expands use (WEAU 13 News)
Chippewa Valley Republican Legislators respond to Gov. Evers' partial veto (WEAU 13 News)
Sen. Smith responds to HSHS veto action (WEAU 13 News)
Local legislators react to $15-million hospital bill signing (WQOW News 18)
Marshfield Clinic Health System responds to Gov. Evers securing crisis response funds (WEAU 13 News)
WHA President, CEO releases statement on Evers’ action on Senate Bills 1014 and 1015 (WEAU 13 News)

30th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally brings 120 business
and community leaders to Madison
   More that 120 area business and community leaders brought the voice of the region to Madison last Wednesday, February 28, for the 30th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally.
   Organized by the Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, and Menomonie Chambers of Commerce, the annual event is designed to connect local leaders with state policymakers on economic issues important to the local economy. This year's issues were particularly focused on "thank you" messages for key priorities enacted in the 2023-25 state budget last year and in other recent legislation. Among those were approval of capital funding for UWEC's Science and Health Science's Building and UW-Stout's Heritage Hall renovation. Delegates also focused on the shared revenue compromise aiding local governments, repeal of the personal property tax, affordable housing legislation, and progress on plans for passenger rail expansion.
   The crisis precipitated by the HSHS and Prevea closures was also a topic of discussion, with the need for immediate state action to mitigate the crisis, and expectations that long term solutions will be needed to address systemic issues with health care financing. At his luncheon address to the Rally, Governor Tony Evers announced his action on legislation to provide $15 million in state assistance (see story above).
   The event opened with a discussion with eight area legislators, including Sens. Jesse James and Jeff Smith, and Reps. Dave Armstrong, Jodi Emerson, Karen Hurd, Clint Moses, Warren Petryk, and Rob Summerfield. Small group teams of participants met individually with 102 legislative offices, attendees heard from representatives of WisDOT and WEDC, and the day concluded with an informal reception.
More information:
2024 Chippewa Valley Rally Issues Book (Chippewa Valley Chamber Alliance)

Chippewa Valley Rally photos (Facebook)
Community leaders gather in Madison for 30th Chippewa Valley Rally (WEAU 13 News)
Video: Chippewa Valley Rally responds to local healthcare crisis (WEAU 13 News)
Local leaders travel to Madison for 30th annual Chippewa Valley Rally (WQOW News 18)

Bill to establish regional crisis mental health centers
goes to the Governor
   A bill to set up five mental health urgent care and observation centers has been passed by both houses of the State Legislature and is on its way to the Governor.
   Authored by Rep. Clint Moses (R-Menomonie) and Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green), the bill "requires the Department of Health Services to establish a certification process for crisis urgent care and observation facilities and a grant program to award grants to develop and support these facilities. Under the bill, a crisis urgent care and observation facility is a treatment facility that admits an individual to prevent, de-escalate, or treat the individual's mental health or substance use disorder and includes the necessary structure and staff to support the individual's needs relating to the mental health or substance use disorder."
   The program would establish the centers across the five DHS regions. Currently, in mental health situations that require emergency detentions, law enforcement must often take patients to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute in Oshkosh, requiring significant time and expenses, as well as a negative experience for patients.
More information:
SB 462 (Wisconsin Legislature)

People in mental health crisis now could get cuffed and taken far from home. This bill could change that. (Green Bay Press-Gazette +)
Urgent mental health care is often hours away. That may soon change. (The Cap Times)

More healthcare stories and information...

HSHS/Prevea Task Force continues work
   The region-wide Task Force created to address the announced closures of HSHS and Prevea facilities in western Wisconsin is continuing its collaborative work.

   The Task Force, along with our local communities and area providers, will continue to work to move forward collectively and to identify solutions that will best serve the Chippewa Valley Region—preparing for a new healthcare landscape in our community and promoting an open dialogue about how best to address future healthcare needs.
   The Task Force is maintaining a website to provide information, as well as an opportunity to sign up to receive updates.
More information:
Click here for the Task Force website to stay informed and sign up for updates

Court rejects bid to keep HSHS hospitals open
(Leader-Telegram $)

Eau Claire County judge denies request to force regional hospitals to delay closure (WPR)

Eau Claire City-County Health Department shares report on HSHS closures
(WEAU 13 News)

EMS committee seeks extension following state law and questions
(Leader-Telegram $)

Healthcare Workforce Training Institute opens new facility, addressing a need for CNAs
(Leader-Telegram $)

Commentary: The Past – and Future – of the Valley’s Economic Resilience
(Tom Giffey, Volume One)

"...it’s vital to remember that our community has demonstrated remarkable flexibility and resourcefulness when faced with serious economic challenges – and can do so again."


Meeting this week:

Eau Claire
Board of Education
 • Monday, Mar 4, 7 p.m. Meeting and agenda info. (Closed session)

City of Eau Claire Plan Commission
2024 Work Plan
 • Monday, Mar 4, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet

Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors
 • Tuesday, Mar 5, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet

More local stories...

City Manager's Weekly Update
(City of Eau Claire)

I-94 construction project starts in March
(Leader-Telegram $)
Multi-year construction project on I-94 in Eau Claire County to start (WEAU 13 News)

Volume One announces 2024 Vanguard Award recipients
(Volume One)

Pablo Center Releases Part of Season 7 Lineup
(Volume One)

Northwestern’s Jacobson Honored as Wis. Banker of the Year
(Volume One)

Upcoming Documentary, Podcast Tell Stories of Uniroyal Tire Plant
(Volume One)

Chippewa County sheriff gets ‘no confidence’ vote from board of supervisors

Employers invited: Youth Apprenticeship Interview Days
 • Tuesday, March 12, Memorial High School
 • Thursday, March 14, North High School
   The Eau Claire Area Youth Apprenticeship Consortium, administered by the Chamber, partnering with Eau Claire Area High Schools to pair high school juniors and seniors with employers through the Youth Apprenticeship (YA) Program. 
   There are many benefits to onboarding Youth Apprentices such as attracting better applicants, instilling company values, benefiting from skilled workers, increased safety, and not to mention a return on your investment!
   Career Pathways include: Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources; Architecture & Construction; Arts, A/V Technology & Communications; Business Administration; Education; Finance; Health Science; Hospitality & Tourism; Information Technology; Manufacturing; Marketing; Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM), Supply Chain; and Transportation, Distribution & Logistics.
   Employers are invited to participate in YA Interview Days. Interviews will be held in person at Memorial High School on March 12th and North High School on March 14th.
More information: 
YA Interview Day Sign Up (Please sign up by March 6th)
Contact Tina Probst with questions

Spring 2024 Election
Tuesday, April 2
Local candidates on the Spring election ballot (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)


State and regional stories...

Gov. Evers Takes Action on Three Bills
(Office of the Governor)
Evers vetoes bulk of late-session GOP tax cut package (WPR)
Gov. Tony Evers vetoes major parts of Republican $2.1 billion income tax cut package (Journal-Sentinel +)

Evers to veto PFAS bill but urges legislators to release money
(The Cap Times)

New election maps shake up races for incumbents now pitted against each other
(Journal-Sentinel +)

National Democrats ramp up efforts on legislative races under new Wisconsin maps
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Wisconsin Supreme Court rejects move to reconsider state's congressional maps
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Joint Finance Committee releases $32M for UW as part of deal limiting DEI programs

Corrections Secretary Kevin Carr to retire amid prison controversy
(The Cap Times)

Wisconsin seniors face housing upheaval as assisted living homes reject Medicaid
(Wisconsin Watch)

Third Ward Milwaukee's 333 Water high-rise has started leasing apartments. Rents start at $2,200
(Journal-Sentinel $)

Universities of Wisconsin names UW-La Crosse chancellor finalists
(WEAU 13 News)

National and economic stories...

Key Fed inflation measure rose 0.4% in January as expected, up 2.8% from a year ago

President Joe Biden signs short-term spending bill to avoid partial government shutdown
How they voted:
 US House 320-99: Yes: Van Orden, Fitzgerald, Grothman, Moore, Pocan, Steil, Tiffany; No: Gallagher
 US Senate: 77-13: Yes: Baldwin; No: Johnson

McConnell will step down as the Senate Republican leader in November after a record run in the job

What to know about Super Tuesday Primaries March 5
 (The Hill)

Haley Continues Her Cross-Country Stump Ahead of Super Tuesday
(Dispatch Politics)

Biden readies for a high-stakes State of the Union amid tight reelection race
(CNN Politics)

Alabama Sen. Katie Britt to deliver Republican State of the Union response

Food for thought...

The Flip Side: Both sides of important issues
(The Flip Side, daily digest)

Ten Myths Sabotaging Social Security Reform (Brian Riedl, The Dispatch)

How Hoboken Has Gone Years Without a Traffic Death

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

Mark your calendar:

Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast
• Friday, Mar 15

Spring 2024 Election
 • Tuesday, April 2
Local candidates on the Spring election ballot

Eggs & Issues: State of the City - Altoona
 • Friday, Apr 12

2024 Human Resource Conference
 • Thursday, Apr 18

Eggs & Issues
• Thursday, May 9

Chamber Royale
 • Thursday, May 16, 2024

Golf Day in Eau Claire
 • Monday, Aug 5, 2024

"Bravo to Business" Awards
 • Thursday, Oct 17, 2024

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

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