Legislative Update, September 2016
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
By Michael Welsh, WEDA Director of Legislative Affairs
In what I hope to be the first of many legislative updates from my desk, I want to start by expressing my excitement to be part of the WEDA team. While change can be challenging for all involved, I’m confident WEDA’s decision to hire a full-time legislative affairs director will provide numerous benefits for members and the association as a whole.
Joining the WEDA team is certainly a change for me. As far as the challenges that come with that change, I embrace them. I look forward to becoming an expert on economic development issues, as well as meeting, building relationships with and earning the trust of WEDA members across the state.
Although there will be a learning curve, I am in position to hit the ground running and to start promoting the WEDA legislative agenda from day one. After nearly 20 years working in and around Wisconsin legislative politics—including 12 years as a contract lobbyist—I have a thorough understanding of the legislative process, state government operations and the key players that can impact policy change in the Badger State. In short, I’m excited to put my experience and knowledge to work to meet WEDA’s legislative goals.
Speaking of legislative goals, the WEDA Board—with input from members—is currently in the process of finalizing the association’s legislative agenda for the 2017-18 legislative session. The creation of a regional revolving loan program, tax incremental financing reform and workforce initiatives will almost certainly be part of the conversation, but whatever the final product reflects, it will undoubtedly include key proposals necessary to advance Wisconsin’s economy.
It’s also encouraging that WEDA’s legislative goals should, in many cases, align with the economic development interests of state lawmakers. In fact, in early September, Assembly Republicans released their Forward Agenda, which outlines their broad goals for the 2017-18 legislative session. The document includes a number of job growth and workforce development proposals aimed at encouraging economic growth. More specifically, the Assembly GOP agenda calls for supporting the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and continued commitment to broadband expansion.
Rest assured, heading into the end of the year, WEDA will begin to implement the necessary strategies to put the organization in the best position to meet its legislative and regulatory objectives. In addition to organized legislator outreach and a robust door-to-door lobbying effort in the State Capitol, WEDA will be utilizing the expertise and experience of its members as part of a comprehensive grassroots advocacy program.
There are plenty of work and challenges ahead, but I look forward to partnering with WEDA members to promote economic development and improve Wisconsin’s business climate. If you have any questions, or would simply like to touch base, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.