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Volume 5, Issue 51, May 8, 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: 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.
 * 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.
 * The US Chamber's new tool to assess the public policy risks faced by businesses.
 * What you can do to influence federal policies and how the US Chamber is working to combat political polarization.
 • Friday, May 19, 7:00-8:30 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
    Click here for details and to register

Also coming up:
Working Mothers Luncheon
 • Wednesday, May 10, The Florian Gardens

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

In this issue:
 • EC City Council: Fireworks, ARPA decisions
 • Home Builders raise concerns about proposed County zoning provision
 • Altoona selects container park businesses
 • Former intern Nate Kane joins WMC Litigation Center
 • State budget and shared revenue action underway
 • 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 "+"


EC City Council: ARPA funds, fireworks location
   The Eau Claire City Council meets this week, with decisions on allocation of federal ARPA funds and a July 4th fireworks location among its agenda items.
   At its Public Hearing on Monday evening, the Council will have public discussions on its allocation of the remaining uncommitted $4 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds and the location of the July 4th community fireworks display.
   For the ARPA discussion, the first $3 million of the remaining allocation were 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). This week, the public discussion covers the remaining $1 million that would include 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).
$60,000 to study Transportation Utility Fee
   A surprise addition to the use of the funds for fiscal stability projects is 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. During 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 are unfair to 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.
   Other proposed ARPA fund allocations include setting aside $500,000 towards assisting in the possible acquisition of a day shelter location for unhoused individuals, formation of a neighborhood services division to handle services such as parking and code enforcement, and a new asset management system.
Fireworks decision
    The Public Hearing also includes discussion of 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. The Council held a work session on the topic on May 2nd, and is expected to vote on the issues again this Tuesday.
   Monday's agenda also includes a Public Hearing on rezoning .7 acres at 4727 Jeffers Rd from single family to also allow two-family homes (see pages 5-9 of the Monday Agenda Packet).
Tuesday Legislative Session
   The Council's Legislative Session on Tuesday includes votes on the Monday agenda items, plus a purchase option for 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).
Bloomer Brewing downtown Eau Claire tap room
   In related news, the City's Landmarks Commission last week approved signage for Bloomer Brewing Company to open a tap room in downtown Eau Claire at Grand and Graham in the first floor of the historic bank building there. (See pages 5-21 of the May 1 Landmarks Commission Agenda Packet for details.)
More information:
Eau Claire City Council
 • Monday, May 8, 7 p.m., Public Hearing Agenda Packet (21 pages)
 • Tuesday, May 9, 4 p.m., 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 includes $500K to buy daytime homeless shelter in funding proposal (Leader-Telegram $)
Area brewery plans to open new downtown Eau Claire location (WQOW News 18)
Downtown businesses, pickleball club request ARPA funds (Leader-Telegram $)

Home Builders raise concerns about proposed
new EC County zoning code provision
Public hearing Tuesday at Planning & Development Committee   
   The Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association (CVHBA) is raising concerns 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 that will be the subject of a public hearing Tuesday evening at the County Board's Committee on Planning & Development.
   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. CVBHA plans to send a letter and testify at the public hearing, in which it also says it supports many of the other proposed code revisions.
More information:
Public Hearing, Eau Claire County Committee on Planning & Development
 • Tuesday, May 9, 7 p.m., Agenda Packet
Summary of proposed zoning code changes (Eau Claire County)
View the Comprehensive Zoning Code Update (Eau Claire County)

Public Hearing Notice (Eau Claire County)

Altoona selects 5 businesses for container park
   The City of Altoona has selected five businesses for its downtown container park business area, to be known as "The Yard." A special committee reviewed proposals and selected five hospitality businesses and a women's clothing boutique. They include Iron Horse Saloon, Beast & Bonito, Ne-Ne Taco's, EJ 2, and Coulee Boutique. The City received a $1.38 million Neighborhood Investment Grant to launch the project.
More information:
Altoona Container Park Tenants selected (WEAU 13 News)

Five businesses approved for Altoona container park (Leader-Telegram $)
Railroad-Themed Taproom, Three Restaurants, and Boutique Picked for Altoona Container Park (Volume One)

Former Chamber Intern Nate Kane joins WMC Litigation Center
   The WMC Litigation Center, an affiliate of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), announced last week that Nathan Kane has joined the organization as Deputy Director.
   Kane was one of the Eau Claire Chamber's Governmental Affairs Interns in the 2018-19 school year when he was a Senior at UW-Eau Claire. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School at Madison in 2022, then served as a law clerk for the Honorable Rebecca Grassl Bradley of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
  “I am honored to join the talented team at the WMC Litigation Center,” said Kane. “I look forward to using my skills and experience to protect Wisconsin’s business community and free enterprise system.”
  “We are delighted to have Nathan Kane bolster our efforts in protecting against government overreach,” said WMC Litigation Center Executive Director Scott Rosenow. “His background and expertise are a perfect fit for our team as we defend the rights of Wisconsin businesses and the public against excessive and unlawful regulation.”
More information:
WMC Litigation Center Expands to Protect Business & the Public from Government Overreach (WMC)

More local stories:

Dinosaurs lead annual sculpture switch in Eau Claire
(Leader-Telegram $)

DINO-MITE: Scraposaurs Lead Latest Artistic Invasion by Sculpture Tour
(Volume One)

Cornell schools invests in Fab Lab, wins $25,000 state grant
(Leader-Telegram $)

Episode 16: Business Matters Podcast
Lar Xiong, Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce
   VP Investor Engagement Kaylynn Winegar takes time to learn more about Lar Kong Xiong, Business Specialist with the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce. Through conversation we learn more about their new office in Eau Claire and what they plan to do to help business growth in the area.
Click here to listen (14:39)


Joint Finance Committee begins acting on 2023-25 State Budget
Governor, Republican leaders trade barbs on local revenue proposal
   The Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) began acting on provisions of the 2023-25 Biennial State Budget in two meetings last week. The Committee removed a number of the Governor's proposed provisions. It will not be meeting this week as it awaits the latest revenue estimates from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
   Meanwhile, Governor Tony Evers threatened to veto the Republican shared revenue proposal over strings attached for use of new funding in Milwaukee.
   “The state must step up more than what I’ve seen. It’s why I can’t support the Republican plan as is — and frankly, I’ll veto it in its entirety,” said Evers.
   In a joint statement, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) said Evers “should reconsider and work with us before the bill is brought to the floor of the Assembly.”
   State budget deliberations will continue over the next few weeks, with JFC charged with sending a budget to the State Assembly and Senate, then to the Governor's desk for the Fiscal Year that begins on July 1.
More information:
Tax revenue for Wisconsin communities would climb 10% under GOP plan (The Cap Times)
Wisconsin GOP government funding plan comes with strings (AP)
'Attack on local control': Milwaukee leaders decry shared revenue provisions for city (WPR)
Evers promises to veto GOP local aid increase plan (AP)
Shared revenue bill would diminish civilian oversight of police, Milwaukee mayor warns (Journal-Sentinel +)
Evers threat to veto shared revenue plan ‘disappoints’ GOP leaders (The Cap Times)
Wisconsin Republicans kill legalized pot, stadium repairs (AP)
Personal property tax repeal inches closer to reality in Wisconsin (The Cap Times)

More state and regional stories:

Lawmakers introduce election bills intended 'tone down the rhetoric'. Here's what to know about the bills
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Wisconsin lawmakers unveil bipartisan election overhauls

Gov. Evers Calls Special Election for 24th Assembly District
(Office of the Governor)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hints at presidential run in central Wisconsin appearance

Can bipartisan support save arts funding in Wisconsin?
(Wisconsin Examiner)

Wisconsin has among the highest hospital prices in the nation. This bill seeks to help lower them through more transparency
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Wisconsin has seen several hospital mergers in the last year. How could they affect patients?

Gov. Evers Appoints Three Regents to the UW Board of Regents
(Office of the Governor)

Wisconsin 'prime working age' labor force participation among best in the nation

Brown County Sheriff, US Rep. Mike Gallagher hope to boost collaboration with USPS to address fentanyl distribution

Lake Express Ferry begins 20th season of service from Milwaukee


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.
   “Our elected officials keep talking about securing the border and fixing our broken legal immigration system, but nothing ever seems to get done. And the problems just get worse. This coalition of over 430 business organizations has a simple message: ‘inaction on border security and legal immigration is unacceptable,’” said Neil Bradley, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer. “As a nation we cannot afford to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. We know there are reasonable compromises that can help secure our border and meet our workforce needs. We are pushing Congress and the administration to turn those compromises into law."
   Among the Wisconsin-based organizations signing the letter are: Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce, Greater Wausau Chamber of Commerce, Marinette Menominee Area Chamber of Commerce, Mosinee Area Chamber of Commerce, Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce, Portage County Business Council, Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce, Superior-Douglas County Area Chamber of Commerce, Waukesha County Business Alliance, Wisconsin Hotel & Lodging Association, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, and the Wisconsin Restaurant Association.

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)

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 news:

Job growth totals 253,000 in April, beating expectations even as the U.S. economy slows

No good options if Congress fails to raise the debt limit, Yellen says

Realtors defend homebuyers over Biden's 'unnecessary' mortgage rule: 'Not the time for fee increases'
(Fox Business)

How YIMBYs Won Montana
(Bloomberg +)

Former national party head Priebus and Perez: Odd couple of politics

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:

Working Mothers Luncheon
 • Wednesday, May 10, The Florian Gardens

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

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

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