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Volume 6, Issue 44, Mar 18 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
Chamber Business Hours: Mon-Thu 7:30a-5p, Friday 8a-2p


In this issue:
• HSHS announces hospitals will close a month earlier than first announced;
   Task Force responds, continues work to fill healthcare gaps
 • Alternate side parking ends in Eau Claire
 • State Senate kicks Dana Wachs off Board of Regents
 • Legislature adjourns as State Senate holds final session
 • National and economic stories
 • 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 "+"


Spring Election Tuesday, April 2
   Wisconsin voters go to the polls on Tuesday, April 2, with non-partisan County Board, Municipal, and School Board elections on their ballots. There will also be a party Presidential Preference Primary, and two state constitutional amendments.
   Polls on Election Day will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Early voting is available at local municipalities on weekdays, March 19-29.
   To register to vote, find your polling place, see what's on your ballot, and/or to request and absentee ballot, go to myvote.wi.gov
Chamber local election resources
   The Chamber does not endorse candidates, but provides voter information to help its investors and members of the public make informed decisions. The Chamber's Good Government Council developed Candidate Questionnaires for the Eau Claire County Board, Eau Claire City Council, and the Altoona and Eau Claire School Boards.

Click the link below for information on each office and access to the Chamber Good Government Council Questionnaires:
Spring 2024 Election Guide (Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce) 

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


HSHS announces hospitals will close a month earlier,
Task Force responds, continues work to fill healthcare gaps
   At a news conference last Thursday, leaders of the HSHS/Prevea Recovery Task Force expressed deep disappointment and concern over last Monday's announcement that both HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls and HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire will be closing on March 22, a whole month earlier than initially announced.
    "The abrupt schedule change has left our community with a mere fraction of the time needed to adequately plan and address the impending healthcare crisis. We are here today to underscore our community's resilience and urgent need for resources and healthcare services for Eau Claire and our surrounding communities," said the Task Force in a statement. 
   "What was already short notice to lose these HSHS hospitals and the services of the Prevea Clinics becomes even more of a crisis with these earlier closures," said Dr. Bill Rupp, Co-Chair of the Task Force. "We are committed to working through all this, but this new development makes it even more challenging. We appreciate that there are staffing challenges as Sacred Heart Hospital employees leave for other jobs, but Sacred Heart is a regional level III trauma center and for other emergency rooms in the area every day it remains open is precious.”
   The Task Force statement said it remains unwavering in its commitment to advocate for the best interests of the community: "We will continue to work tirelessly, ensuring that any negative impact on our communities is minimized. We will continue to work with existing and new medical providers who have already undertaken to expand or establish services in the Chippewa Valley Area and make these options available to the public as quickly as possible." 
   The statement included a list of expanded and new services and providers that have come forward since the January announcement that HSHS Hospitals and Prevea Clinics will be closing, including those by: Mayo & Marshfield OB Expansions, Mayo Cancer Patients, Mayo Dialysis, Oakleaf Medical Networks - 26 independent clinics, Pivotal Health, Gateway Counseling, NorthLakes Clinics, The Remedy, Aurora Community Services, Solarte Health, ReforMedicine, Nomi Health/Success Care, Midwest Detox/Wellbrook Recovery, and Spears Pain & Rehab Clinic. 
Status of $15 Million in State Grant Money
   The Task Force said it is in contact with the local system leadership at Marshfield Clinic Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System to accelerate the planning and implementation of services to address the most critical local healthcare gaps created by the closures. This is especially true of investments qualifying for the $15 million in crisis response funding from the state signed into law in late February.

   "Our two major health care systems are in the best position to move expeditiously to identify resources and expertise to provide the hospital services that qualify for the new state funding," said Jerry Jacobson, Co-Chair of the Task Force. "It's critical that we put a specific plan forward for approval by the legislature's Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) and the Department of Health Services (DHS)."
   The legislation enacted in February appropriated $15 million in unspent state funds initially intended for the Chippewa Valley in the 2021-23 state budget to make grants available for hospital services to address critical gaps created by the HSHS closures. The original bill limited eligibility to emergency room services, but the Governor used his partial veto powers to expand the type of services eligible. However, funds awarded to any grant application must be approved by the JFC, which will likely adhere more closely to the original purposes specified in the legislation.
Closure timeline      
   The HSHS announcement last Monday noted that existing patients at Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s will receive care through March 22, 2024. Prevea Health continues to wind-down its Western Wisconsin operations with its last day of patient care to be on or before April 21, 2024, as previously announced; Prevea Western Wisconsin residency clinics and the UW-Stout location are anticipated to provide services through June 30, 2024.
   "All HSHS impacted colleagues previously received legally required notices related to the ultimate closure of the facilities, and the change in timeline for the closure of Sacred Heart will not impact HSHS’ commitment to provide severance and career transition assistance," said HSHS in its statement. "HSHS is coordinating with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to ensure patient care transitions are well-planned and conducted safely. Staff, local fire and EMS and other acute-care facilities have been notified of the new timeline."
More information:
Click here: Task Force website to stay informed and sign up for updates
Task force responds to early closure, updates on progress 
(Leader-Telegram $)
HSHS/Prevea Taskforce holds news conference on early closure of Sacred Heart and plans for $15 million state grant (WEAU 13 News)
HSHS Task Force reacts to early hospital closure, funds being held up in state committee (News 8000.com)
Time Is Almost Up: Sacred Heart Hospital Will Officially Close March 22 (Volume One)
HSHS moves up closure date for St. Joseph's, Sacred Heart (Leader-Telegram $)
2 western Wisconsin hospitals to close their doors (WPR)
HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital now to close on March 22, 2024 (WEAU 13 News)
Sacred Heart Hospital to close earlier than expected (WQOW News 18)
Our View: What is health care? The answer is important for all of us (Leader-Telegram $)


Local stories...

City Manager's Wee
kly Update
(City of Eau Claire)

City Approves Historic Shawtown Neighborhood’s 10-Year Plan
(Volume One)
Shawtown Neighborhood Plan (City of Eau Claire)

SO LONG, ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING: E.C., C.F. Parking Rules Lifted Early
(Volume One)

Sediment collector te
st starts, district to receive $800,000
(Leader-Telegram $)
Lake Altoona sees latest in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sediment collecting testing (WQOW News 18)
Sediment collector up and running on Lake Altoona (WEAU 13 News)
Our View: Optimism for Lake Altoona (Leader-Telegram editorial $)

Upcoming ‘Top Chef’ Season to Display UW-Stout Grad’s Art on Set
(Volume One)

Meeting this week...

City of Eau Claire Plan Commission
2024 Work Plan
 • Monday, Mar 18, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet 

Altoona Board of Education
 • Monday, Mar 18, 6:30 p.m. Meeting information 

Eau Claire Board of Education
• Monday, Mar 18, 7 p.m. Meeting and agenda info.  

Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors
 • Tuesday, Mar 19, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet 

EC Council President & City Manager public input meetings
   Eau Claire City Council President Emily Berge and City Manager Stephanie Hirsch have announced that they will hold four district meetings in four locations around the City in March and April. They also expect to be joined by other members of the City Council and by neighborhood associations.
   According to the announcement of the sessions, they will share citywide and neighborhood-specific updates on topics such as zoning, development, street repair, public safety, parks, and more; provide a resident survey for input, and answer questions.
Dates and locations are:
Central neighborhoods: Eastside Hill, Randall Park, North River Fronts, Third Ward, Downtown
 • Monday, March 18, 6-8 p.m.

    LE Phillips Senior Center - 1616 Bellinger St.
South neighborhoods: Putnam Heights, London Road, Oakwood Hills, Memorial, Randy's, Fairfax/South
  Wednesday, March 2, 6-8 p.m.
    South Middle School Cafeteria - 2115 Mitscher Ave.
West neighborhoods: Buffington, Shawtown, Upper Westside, West Ridge, Silvermine, Sherman Creek, Lamplighter/Crestview
 • Monday, April 1, 6-8 p.m.
    Delong Middle School Cafeteria - 2000 Vine Street
North neighborhoods: Airport, Dells Park, North Side Hill, Princeton Valley, Sundet Park, Wells/Riverview, Pinehurst, Abby/Zephyr Hills
 Thursday, April 18, 6-8 p.m. 
    North High School Commons - 1801 Piedmont Rd.


State Senate kicks Dana Wachs off Board of Regents
   On its final floor day of the current legislative session last Tuesday, the Wisconsin State Senate voted to reject confirmation of Dana Wachs, a former Assembly Member from Eau Claire, to the Universities of Wisconsin Board of Regents.
   Wachs was one of eight appointees of Wisconsin Governor Evers who were effectively fired from state boards by the State Senate on mostly party-line votes. He was appointed by the Governor to the Board of Regents in 2022, but his confirmation had not come up for a vote until last week. Press reports indicated that Republicans ousted Wachs and fellow Regent John Miller over their votes against a compromise with Republicans related to diversity programs and building projects. Wachs is a former Democratic member of the State Assembly from Eau Claire and also previously served on the Eau Claire City Council.
More information:
Gov. Evers Blasts Senate Republicans for Baselessly Firing Six More Gubernatorial Appointees (News release, Office of the Governor)

Roll Call (Wisconsin Senate, March 12)
Wachs 'disappointed' in dismissal from Board of Regents (Leader-Telegram $)
Wisconsin Republicans fire 8 more Evers appointees, including regents and judicial watchdogs (AP)
Senate fires 8 Democratic appointees, including 2 UW Regents (Journal-Sentinel +)
DEI deal votes lead senators to reject two Evers Regent appointees (The Cap Times)

Senate Floor Session Recap: March 12, 2024
(Hamilton Consulting)

More state and regional stories...

Local state legislators speak on political maps, state grant money for hospital closures
(Leader-Telegram $)

Governor Signs 24 New Laws, Vetoes GOP Tax Cut Bills
(Hamilton Consulting)

Gov. Tony Evers signs bills to expand eligibility for water quality projects, allow airgun hunting
(Wisconsin State Journal +)

WMC Applauds Legislature’s Passage of EV Charging Legislation, Encourages Evers to Sign Bill

Republican legislators reject DPI recommendations for new Wisconsin reading curriculum

Political analyst John Frank says Wisconsin critical state in 2024 Election
(WEAU 13 News)

GOP lets absentee 'ballot dump' measure die, leaving door open to false fraud claims
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Bipartisan lawmakers criticize state Senate for 'unfortunate death' of ballot processing bill (Wisconsin State Journal +)

Wisconsin elections review shows recall targeting GOP leader falls short of signatures needed

Robin Vos recall petitions start to falter under scrutiny (The Cap Times)
Elections review shows recall targeting GOP leader falls short of signatures needed (WPR)

Wisconsin Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to absentee ballot drop box ban
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Spring election could also bring change to Wisconsin constitution
(WQOW News 18)

Wisconsin voters to decide on banning private money to help fund elections (AP)

Class rankings, increasingly on the wane, now required for Wisconsin high schools
(Wisconsin State Journal +)

Chippewa Valley UW students present undergraduate research at Wisconsin Capitol
(Leader-Telegram $)

UW’s Rothman touts undergrad research during showcase event (WisBusiness.com)

Wisconsin had record-high construction jobs in January

UW-Milwaukee announces closure of Waukesha campus in 2025, citing declining enrollment

Appleton considered changing rules for short-term rentals, but city stuck with status quo
(Appleton Post-Crescent +)

Milwaukee Wins $36 Million To Rebuild Key Street
(Urban Milwaukee)

Milwaukee Public Schools asking voters to approve $252M

Lyft and Uber to cease operations in Minneapolis after new minimum wage law
(CNN Business)

South Dakota and Minnesota end tuition reciprocity

National and economic stories...

Consumer Price Index comes in hot for second straight month

US consumer sentiment ticks down slightly, but most expect inflation to ease further

U.S. Chamber Wins Lawsuit over NLRB Joint Employer Rule
(US Chamber of Commerce)

Real estate lawsuit settlement upends decades long policies that helped set agent commissions

Biden announces new funding for infrastructure projects; sets Milwaukee as campaign headquarters
(WQOW News 18)

Biden proposes 'historic new program' to address child care shortages
(Route Fifty)

House easily overcomes objections to pass TikTok bill
(Roll Call)

TikTok’s biggest threat just passed the House (Politico)
Video: Rep. Mike Gallagher Speaks with Reporters About TikTok Legislation (C-SPAN)
House Vote 352-65: Yes: Van Orden, Fitzgerald, Gallagher, Grothman, Steil, Tiffany; No: Moore, Pocan

Biden and Trump clinch nominations, setting the stage for a grueling general election rematch

No Labels lays out plan to pick presidential candidate
(The Hill)

RNC sees major cuts to staff as new, Trump-backed leadership takes over

Mike Gallagher doesn't commit to attending RNC, where Trump is almost certain to be nominee
(Journal-Sentinel +)

House Speaker Mike Johnson signals shift on Ukraine to GOP senators
(The Hill)

Putin wins what Russia claims was an "election" for its presidency

Some States Are Looking to Abolish Property Taxes Entirely

17 million cyberattacks a day: How Oklahoma stops 99% of them
(Route Fifty)

Food for thought...

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

Here's Why Trader Joe's Parking Lots Are So Annoyingly Small
(Yahoo! Finance)

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

Mark your calendar:

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

Chamber/UW-Eau Claire Business Community Breakfast
• Tuesday, April 30

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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