2015 Legislative Agenda

The Wausau Region Chamber's Legislative Agenda is the guiding document that outlines all of the government-related issues the Chamber has pledged to invest resources into during the course of a specific year. It is updated each fall prior to the next Legislative session and guides the actions of the Chamber's Business Advocacy Committee as they relate to informing, educating and/or advocating about issues on the behalf of the Chamber's members.  

The 2015 Legislative Agenda was officially approved on Dec. 4, 2014.  
It can be downloaded for printing at the following link:

2015 WRCC Legislative Agenda


The complete text of the 2015 Legislative Agenda is as follows:


 

Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce

2015 Legislative Agenda

As the voice of business in the region, the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce (WRCC) is committed to developing a competitive and vibrant business community.  A healthy business climate leads to a better overall quality of life for our community and thus is at the core of the Chamber’s existence.  One of the most substantial impacts the Chamber can have in shaping and influencing the business climate is to engage in the legislative process.  The Chamber provides an indispensable value to members by educating & informing them about current public policy issues and actively advocating to protect and encourage business prosperity in our region.

 1.         Regulatory Rules & Legal Reform

Business owners have consistently cited burdensome regulations and cumbersome legal systems as having a significant negative impact on their ability to effectively run their businesses.  The WRCC understands this burden and will actively advocate for regulatory and legal reform measures that move towards more effective and efficient systems.  In line with this goal, we will pursue the following actions: 

  • Inform members about proposed changes to current unemployment insurance laws
  • Educate our membership about the impending changes to the current workers compensation system
  • Build awareness within our membership about the health care system changes that have been and continue to be implemented at all levels of government and how those changes directly impact their businesses
  • Approve of any steps that achieve better alignment of state and federal regulations so as to improve regulatory consistency and process streamlining
  • Support “patent troll” legislation that seeks to limit patent abuse and control excessive legal costs
  • Encourage legislation that promotes legal expediency and cost-containment as well as tort reform measures
  • Monitor actions related to the National Labor Relations Act and OSHA-related rule changes and/or proposals with the intent of informing members on changes as appropriate

  

2.       Taxation & Government Spending 

High taxes have combined with poorly-controlled government spending to create the image of an unfavorable business climate in Wisconsin.  Recent government actions have worked to improve the business environment and the WRCC will continue to encourage legislative actions that will reduce the overall tax burden for both businesses and individuals while creating specific guidelines for proper government budgeting and spending practices.  In order to achieve this, we will pursue the following actions: 

  • Seek responsible adjustments to current taxes, including but not limited to corporate, property, income and sales tax, in order to achieve the ultimate goal of alleviating the overall tax burden for businesses.
  • Facilitate opportunities for greater cooperation and collaboration among state, regional and local governments
  • Approve implementation of legislation that encourages balancing government budgets at all levels
  • Encourage simplification of the Internal Revenue Code

 

 3.       Education & Workforce Development 

The current lack of skilled workers is a significant concern voiced by employers across all areas of business, most notably in the areas of manufacturing and other technical skills fields.  The WRCC will promote an environment where educators and employers work together to ensure that we are educating and training a workforce that will meet the needs of Wisconsin’s work environment both now and well into the future.  This goal will be pursued through the following actions: 

  • Advocate for initiatives that encourage keeping control of technical college governance at the local level*
  • Support of legislative and regulatory proposals that address the goals of the WRCC Workforce Hub to foster partnerships between regional K-12 schools, colleges and employers with the goal of creating more skilled workers for the long-term growth and support of business in the region
  • Pursuit of initiatives that will sustain programs encouraging collaborations between business and educators, such as the “Your Future” website, the Heavy Metal tours, the Young Entrepreneurs Academy and initiatives to increase the presence of the industrial and manufacturing arts programs in K-12 school systems
  • Collaborations with regional young professionals to encourage actions that will help attract and retain skilled workers in the Wausau region
  • Encourage the support and growth of transportation-related businesses through workforce development initiatives designed to increase the pool of skilled workers*
  • Continued support for the FastForward training grant program administered through the Department of Workforce Development
  • Promotion of funding sources for employers and/or educational institutions to hold educational workforce training & development programs

 

 4.       Economic Development 

Without proper economic structures in place, business cannot be sustained.  The WRCC recognizes this need and will aggressively advocate for legislation that supports the region’s efforts to create, attract and expand quality businesses, industry & jobs.  This will be accomplished through the pursuit of the following actions: 

  • Promote regional Economic Development initiatives, with an emphasis on those that focus on bringing new business and increased employment opportunities to the region
  • Support programs and initiatives which provides increased marketing opportunities & financial assistance for Wisconsin manufacturers
  • Encourage the development and/or continuation of financial assistance programs, including public/private capital venture funds and angel investors
  • Encourage collaborations between local governments to promote growth and business sustainability
  • Support the ArtsWisconsin proposal for the Creative Economy Development Initiative*
  • Assist in the promotion of tourism-related economic development initiatives

 

 5.       Infrastructure & Transportation 

Without the means to efficiently transport products and people, businesses cannot readily access the goods necessary to support themselves.  Maintaining modern roads, rails and air transportation to assist with the movement of products and goods to, from and within the region is a top priority for WRCC. The followings actions will be taken in support of this objective: 

  • Promotion of legislation designed to modernize and maintain roads, rails & air transportation in a responsible and cost-effective way
  • Support the Central Wisconsin Airport in its efforts to help develop legislative proposals to re-establish a Governor’s Council on Aeronautics as well as to develop and advance a bill related to addressing the issue of clear titles on aircraft*

  

6.       Energy & Environment 

Excessively burdensome regulations related to energy and the environment are key factors in reducing Wisconsin’s ability to attract outside businesses, especially manufacturers.  The WRCC will approve of actions that work to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens while still protecting the region’s quality of life and natural beauty, thus making Wisconsin a more competitive and fiscally-attractive option for business.  This will be achieved through the following actions: 

  • Educate members about environmental legislation involving the Climate Action Plan, Clean Air Act and other state and federal actions involving various environmental regulations
  • Inform members on legislation pertaining to mining-related topics
  • Promote government-backed incentives for the use of energy efficiencies
  • Approve legislation that fosters a supportive environment for the development of reliable, cost-efficient alternative energy sources

 

 7.        Elections & Governance 

It is a recognized fact that having a significant business perspective within legislative rulemaking bodies results in the passage of more balanced, budget-focused regulations.  Therefore, the WRCC will work to create an environment in the region that is supportive of local Chamber members who desire to run for offices at local and state levels.  In order to create this environment, the WRCC will undertake the following actions: 

  • Educate our members about the various candidates running for local, state and federal offices
  • Provide clarification on referendums included on regional ballots
  • Develop and hold an educational training program for prospective candidates for non-partisan local offices
  • Encourage local legislative bodies and employers to maintain a meeting schedule that allows for a more diverse body of candidates to participate