The Chamber takes your voice to Washington D.C. and demonstrates the local impact of government’s votes and actions on our community and our businesses. After advocating in DC for a long period of time, the Chamber has built a great reputation and will continue to represent our community.

 

 

This is a great opportunity to remind our elected officials of the importance of the economic impact of the La Crosse region, not only in Wisconsin but also Iowa and Minnesota. We shared positions on key business and quality of life issues for the region. It is also a great introduction to lobbying one’s elected officials!

Brian Rude

VP of External and Member Relations, Dairyland Power Cooperative

DC’s Top Issue

Grassland’s notice to many Dairy farmers around the state

  • This was a result of Canada notifying the U.S. that will not take the milk
  • We heard this from Lee Nerison at our Forum a few weeks prior
  • The offices were working hard on this in D.C. to find new dairy processors
  • Update after we left: all farmers found new processors

I work for an accounting firm and am asked about tax planning for the future. ‘What are the legislators proposing’ is a question they pose. By attending this Washington event, I have access to legislators, their staff, and learn what they are doing. In addition, we can share our thoughts about proposed legislation.

Mary Jo Werner

JD, CPA, CFF, Partner , Wipfli

Our Top Issues

Healthcare

  • Companies impacted: Mayo Clinic & Gundersen Health System
  • Allow telehealth: it provides the ability to monitor patients remotely, reducing hospitalizations. This issue resonated with congressmen and women with rural constituents
  • Asked them to adjust Stark Law & Anti-kickback: doesn’t allow for testing (ex. Skin cancer at farm shows) that could help with prevention

Infrastructure

  • Companies impacted: Mathy Construction and Brennan Marine
  • Our message: provide sustainable funding.
  • Support for NESP: Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program – navigational and ecological improvements

It was a Dynamic Week and we learned of the “puzzle pieces” that needed to be put together to make large overhauls possible:

  • When we arrived on Tuesday, they were working to passing a budget that would keep government running (vs. a shutdown) after Friday
  • Tax Reform was introduced by Trump
    • This one page plan was greeted with a standard answer, “I can’t comment until I see details.”
    • Many commented that they learn of initiatives as we, the public finds out
  • Timing is important. We need the changes to Healthcare to be cleared because then we can have funding for infrastructure and tax reforms.

 

It was a record event for us with 13 attendees:

  • We added a new component: dinner the night before our Capitol Hill visits
    • Kind’s Chief of Staff Mike Goodman joined us.
    • He provided dynamics on the hill.
  • Briefings the First morning
    • National Governor’s Association commented when federal government is viewed as weak, people turn to the state to lead
  • Met with all offices in or near our region:
    • Franken, Baldwin, Johnson, Grassley & Ernst (IA), Klobuchar (MN)
      • Six Senate Offices
    • Kind, Grothman, Gallagher, Ryan, Sean Duffy
      • Blum &  Walt (IA & MN)
      • 7 House Offices

Other Issues

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Tax Reform & Regulation

  • Companies impacted: all
  • Marketplace Fairness (forcing online sellers with $50k+ in sales to collect sales tax, providing a fairer advantage to our brick & mortar stores)
    • Case studies taken: Wettsteins & First Supply
    • A bill passed in the Senate last year. We need representatives to sign on.
  • LIFO – Last-in, First Out Accounting
    • Companies impacted: those with inventory
    • Case Study taken: First Supply
    • We asked that this form of accounting be preserved. It is not a tax break as some foresee it.

Workforce

  • Gainful Employment: i.e. holding schools accountable for wage earnings to debt ratio.
      • Case Study Taken: The Salon Professional Academy
    • Our argument: The inability to accurately measure the earning incomes of some of the professions, especially ones that are heavily cash-based, is going to significantly impact some professions with  some schools having to close.
  • People with Disabilities
    • Case Study Taken: Riverfront, Inc.
    • Our concern is that we need all the people who can work in jobs. Any caps and funding cuts would be detrimental and decrease the inroads that have been made.

I was very impressed with the reception we received from the Senators, Congressmen, and their legislative aides. They truly want to hear from their constituency, and traveling with the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce joins local businesses together to address several legislative issues that impact our region.

Mark Binsfeld

Vice President, Business Development , J.F. Brennan Company, Inc.

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