Oktoberfest in the Capitol 2019 Updates

In October 2019, the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce, along with our partners and members, went to the state capitol in Madison to advocate on behalf of our region and spread Oktoberfest cheer. The following is an update on the issues we took to the capitol and where they stand currently in the legislature. If you have any questions or would like to get more involved on these issues, please email me at benjamin@lacrossechamber.com.

  1. Opportunity Zones
    • The Opportunity Zones bill in the Assembly was introduced in October as AB 532 and was referred to the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means
    • Its counterpart in the Senate, SB 440, is in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Revenue, and Financial Institutions
    • The bills need a public hearing in order to move forward, so it is important that groups continue to advocate on this to make that happen
    • If you would like to contact legislators on this issue to get hearings for the bills, you can follow these links to contact legislators in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Revenue, and Financial Institutions and the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means
    • Legislators expect there to be a hearing on this bill at least in the Assembly, so it is vitally important to contact legislators on the committees above
    • Recently, amendments have been made in both the Senate and the Assembly to alter the language to reflect that it was not passed in 2019
  2. Wisconsin’s Childcare Crisis
    • In the time since Oktoberfest in the Capitol, there have been no new bills introduced related to Wisconsin’s childcare crisis
    • Legislators want to do something about this, they just don’t know what yet and haven’t devoted much time to this issue
    • Representative Billings has requested a summer study committee on this issue, but it still needs to be approved for this summer
    • The DCF has received grant money to look at early childhood and childcare this year, so new solutions on this issue could come from the DCF
    • If you would like to subscribe to receive updates on bills involving childcare, you can do so by following this link to the Wisconsin State Legislature’s page and typing in key words: https://notify.legis.wisconsin.gov/login?ReturnUrl=%2f
  3. Prairie Springs Science Center Phase II
    • Prairie Springs Science Center Phase II will become more important for UWL and the La Crosse community later in 2020, closer to the 2021 budget
    • UWL currently needs DOA Secretary Brennan to sign off on them continuing their design process for the building, but he has not signed off on it yet
  4. Creative Economy Grants
    • The Creative Economy Grants Bills, AB 66 and SB 82, are not expected to be passed at this point
    • Despite bipartisan support, it appears that there are a couple of legislators preventing this from moving forward
  5. September 1 School Start Date
    • There have been no bills introduced since Oktoberfest in the Capitol that would alter the September 1 school start date that is so vital for Wisconsin’s tourism industry
    • It appears that this issue is unlikely to come up this session