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Volume 5, Issue 32, Dec 28, 2022
 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



Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

The Chamber offices are closed Dec 26-27 and Jan 2. 


Eggs & Issues: The "State of the County" Address

The Chamber's annual 'State of the County' address, led by Eau Claire County Board Chair Nick Smiar and County Administrator Kathryn Schauf. Hear the highlights of Eau Claire County's work over the past year and its priorities for 2023, plus meet the new County Sheriff and District Attorney. Highlights to be covered include where the county has committed its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars, how it expects to deploy its opioid settlement funds, the new multi-county Rural Partners Network, and what's happening with rural broadband. 

 • Friday, Jan 20, 7:00-8:30 a.m., Pablo Center at the Confluence

    Click here for more details and to register


Don't miss...

"Eau What A Night" - The Chamber's 108th Annual Meeting

 • Wednesday, Jan 25, 2023, Pablo Center at the Confluence

    Click here for details and to register


Registration now open

29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally

Organized by the Chippewa Valley Chamber Alliance - the Chippewa Falls, Menomonie and Eau Claire Chambers of Commerce. Bringing the collective voice of Chippewa Valley business and community leaders to Madison.

Wednesday, Feb 22, 2023, Madison

   Click here for details and to register

In this issue: 

 • Wisconsin Legislative Session kicks off Jan 3

 • RDA continues to look at potential new redevelopment sites

 • State and regional stories

 National and economic news

 • COVID-19 updates 

 • 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 "+"


Wisconsin legislative session kicks off Jan 3

Local lawmakers highlight their priorities

   With the fall election decided and a two-year state budget to enact, the new session of the 2023-25 Wisconsin State Legislature gets underway on January 3. That's the date lawmakers will be settled into their offices, with a large number of new members and others who have moved from the Assembly to the Senate, or just changed office locations.

   The session gets underway with a reelected Democratic Governor, Tony Evers, and increased Republican majorities in the State Senate and Assembly. In our region, all incumbents up for reelection won their races. State Rep. Jesse James of Altoona moved to the State Senate to succeed retiring Sen. Kathy Bernier, with Republican Karen Hurd of Fall Creek elected to fill his Assembly seat. In the 25th Senate District to the north, former Rep. Romaine Quinn, a Republican, won the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley.

Local priorities asserted at Eggs & Issues

   Eight local lawmakers participated in the Chamber's Annual Eggs & Issues: Holiday Legislative Breakfast at the Pablo Center on Friday, December 16. They included State Senator Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire, Dist. 31); Senator-elect Jesse James (R-Altoona, Dist. 23); Representatives Dave Armstrong (R-Rice Lake, Dist. 75), Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire, Dist. 91), Warren Petryk (R-Eleva Dist. 93), Treig Pronschinske (R-Mondovi, Dist. 92), and Rob Summerfield (R-Bloomer, Dist. 67); and Representative-elect Karen Hurd (R-Fall Creek, Dist. 68).

   What to do with the projected state budget surplus and support for the UWEC Science Building were among the top subjects discussed. Each also outlined their personal priorities for the next session, including how that's influenced by their committee assignments. (See the Eggs & Issues recap link below for details.)

Leader-Telegram editorial: UWEC Science Building is "a test of

the Legislature’s very commitment to education"

   An Eau Claire Leader-Telegram editorial on Dec 20 acknowledged the unanimous bi-partisan support from local legislators to secure the final phase of funding for the UWEC Science and Health Sciences Building. Phase one was enacted in the 2019-21 budget, but the state did not follow through on the expected second phase in the 2021-23 budget. This year, the UW System Board of Regents has included the final phase in its proposed capital budget 

   "Getting this funding through is a test of the Legislature’s very commitment to education and to the University of Wisconsin system," asserted the editorial. "It’s also a test of local legislators’ abilities to make colleagues understand the situation." (See link below to read the full editorial.)

   UWEC argues that the new building is not only a critical replacement for the aging and deteriorating Phillips Science Hall, but also promises a far-reaching impact on regional workforce development and rural healthcare access through a partnership with Mayo Clinic Health System. The Chamber has made this one its top legislative priorities for the coming year. It will be included among regional issues discussed at the 29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally on February 22 in Madison.

State leaders discuss priorities, hint at compromises

   With budget deliberations approaching, Governor Tony Evers and Legislative Leaders have been talking about priorities for the next session. In an interview with WisPolitics.com, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he envisions three areas for compromise with the Governor in the upcoming session: Addressing learning loss, tax cuts to help residents with inflation, and innovation to address the state’s demographic challenges. Evers announced last week that the state is ending the year with a record $4.6 billion in its general fund. Evers has said that he is skeptical of flat tax proposals, and said he expects to propose legalization of marijuana. Evers will deliver his budget address on February 15.

More information: 

Recap: Eggs & Issues - Holiday Legislative Breakfast (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

Links to pre-election interviews with local State Senate and Assembly winners (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

Local legislators talk budget surplus, UW-EC building Funding (Leader-Telegram)

Commitment to education must include UW-EC  (Leader-Telegram editorial)

Full list of Assembly Committees and Republican Committee assignments (Speaker Robin Vos)

Full list of State Senate Committees and Republican Committee assignments (Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu)

The new Wisconsin legislative session is around the corner. Here are the leaders in charge of the party agendas. (Journal-Sentinel +)

Wisconsin governor, GOP leaders meet for first time in years (AP)

Tax-cut plans diverge for Wisconsin’s record surplus (The Isthmus)

Wisconsin ends the year with a record $4.6 billion in its general fund (Journal-Sentinel +)

Kaul: 'Critical need' to invest in public safety in 2023-25 budget (The Cap Times)

Criminal justice coalition asks for raises for prosecutors, public defenders in Wisconsin's next budget (WPR)

Vos: Not drawing bright lines to start the new session in the hopes of reaching compromises with Gov Evers (WisPolitics.com)

Audio: WisPolitics interview with Robin Vos (16:55, WisPolitics.com)

Wisconsin Gov. Evers opposes GOP flat income tax cut plan (AP)

Evers to again propose marijuana legalization in state budget (WPR)

Join the Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, and Menomonie Chambers at the:

29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally

 • Wednesday, Feb 22, 2023, Madison

    Click here for details and to register


RDA continues to look at potential new redevelopment sites

   Eau Claire Economic Development Director Aaron White presented another potential area for future work by the City's Redevelopment Authority (RDA) at its meeting last Wednesday. This time the RDA added to its list of potential sites the industrial area on the city's southwest side between the Chippewa River and the Chippewa River State Trail.  

   In other recent meetings, White and the RDA identified potential candidates for efforts including the downtown area bordered by Barstow, Madison, Galloway, and Farwell; the area around the former Walter’s Brewery north of Madison Street, and the Shopko Plaza area. With the current North Barstow and Cannery District areas filling up, the RDA is considering where future activity would benefit the city's economy. 

More information:

Eau Claire Redevelopment Authority

• Wednesday, Dec 21, Agenda Packet

RDA adds southwest Eau Claire industrial area to list of candidates (Leader-Telegram $)


Comparing local property tax bills

   Area property owners have been receiving tax bills showing what they'll owe to local jurisdictions, including their municipality, county government, school district, and technical college. 

   For the City of Eau Claire, tax bills reflect an increase based upon the voters' approval of a tax levy referendum to fund additional public safety positions.

   To provide a comparison and context for each of the line items on your tax bill, Chamber Governmental Affairs Interns Emily Johnston and Mallory Williams created a table comparing tax rates paid for properties in the City of Eau Claire, City of Altoona, and Town of Washington. The comparison shows mill rates for each taxing body, which is the tax rate per thousand based upon property value. Click the link below for details.

More information:

Local mill rates and tax comparisons (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)


Broadband update: Wisconsinites must submit corrections to new national broadband map by Jan. 13

   The Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) is calling on state residents to ensure a new FCC broadband map accurately reflects their internet access. The federal agency last month released a draft of a national map showing broadband access levels around the country. In a recent press release, MadREP Vice President of Talent and Education Gene Dalhoff urged residents to "visit the new FCC map and make sure it correctly reflects the access available at your homes."

   According to the release, the deadline to submit a "challenge" or correction to the map is Jan. 13. MadREP notes three types of challenges can be submitted: availability challenges, mobile availability challenges and location challenges.

"If areas are incorrectly finalized as having access they do not, it will jeopardize the Madison Region's ability to access federal support for broad infrastructure," Dalhoff said. The federal Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program includes $42 billion for broadband expansion, the release notes.

More information:

Broadband update: Wisconsinites must submit corrections to new national broadband map by Jan. 13 (WisBusiness.com)

See the FCC map: https://broadbandmap.fcc.gov/home

Our View: An opportunity for internet access (Leader-Telegram editorial $)


More local stories:


November home sales report: Declining Affordability and Tight Inventories Lead to Slide in Home Sales (Wisconsin Realtors Association)

November home sales plummet 39% in western Wisconsin (Leader-Telegram $)


Lake Hallie board sending two referendum questions to voters in April (Leader-Telegram $)


CF schools to have make-up day in April, others would be in June (Leader-Telegram $)


EC Mayo physician recognized nationally for work in clinical trials (Leader-Telegram $)


Culvers, Kwik Trip slated for CF development (Leader-Telegram $)


State approves $16.5 million health building at Stanley prison (Leader-Telegram $)



Eau Claire Chamber Business Matters podcast

 Episode 12: Eau Claire City Manager Stephanie Hirsch (31:26)


National and economic stories:


U.S. House passes $1.7 trillion bill funding federal government through September, sending it to Biden (CNBC)


Jan. 6 final report alleges Trump engaged in "multi-part conspiracy" (Axios)


Goodbye, 117th Congress (Politico)


Low weekly jobless claims underscore U.S. labor market tightness; Q3 growth revised up (Reuters)


What to Expect for the Economy in 2023 (Curtis Dubay, US Chamber of Commerce)


Why everyone thinks a recession is coming in 2023 (CNBC)


Spurred by regulators, 3M to phase out “forever chemicals” (AP)


Rep. Mike Gallagher’s Plans for the Select Committee on China (The Dispatch)


‘A sea change’: Biden reverses decades of Chinese trade policy (Politico)


Zelensky to Congress: Against All Odds Ukraine Still Stands (Time)


‘Carol of the Bells’ Is More Than a Christmas Favorite. It’s a Ukrainian Cry of Independence. (Christianity Today)


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


Southwest's operation continues to meltdown as other airlines recover from major Christmas storm (The Points Guy)


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:


Inauguration Day

New sessions of the US Congress and Wisconsin Legislature

Inauguration of Wisconsin Gov Tony Evers

 • Tuesday, January 3, 2023


State of the State Address - Gov Tony Evers

 •  Tuesday, Jan 24, 7 p.m., State Capitol


Eggs & Issues: "State of Eau Claire County"

 • Friday, Jan 20, Pablo Center at the Confluence


A Candid Conversation with Ron Kind

Online event by Leader Ethics

 • Tuesday, January 24, 12-1 p.m.


"Eau What A Night:" The Chamber's 108th Annual Meeting

 • Wednesday, January 25, 2023, Pablo Center


Governor's Budget Address - Gov Tony Evers

 • Wednesday, February 15, 7 p.m., State Capitol


Eggs & Issues: State of the City - Eau Claire

 • Friday, Feb 17, Pablo Center at the Confluence


29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally

 • Wednesday, February 22, 2023, Madison


Business Salutes Eau Claire 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 

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