Written by: David Allen

Our lobbyist, Shawn Pfaff, and WAA Board Member, David Allen, have been meeting with representatives on behalf of the WAA. After more than a half-dozen total Capitol meetings, they discovered a couple big things. One, there is an interest in our industry. Lawmakers are curious about our industry and realize that on-line auctions have become more prevalent and that state law may be possibly outdated to reflect the expanding presence of on-line auctions in WI.  Two, lawmakers want to know what direction WAA would like to go in possible legislation. 

Meeting 1 – David and Shawn met with state Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point). Sen. Testin spoke at the WAA Convention in January. Testin is interested in our issues and wants to be helpful moving forward i.e. be the Senate lead sponsor on our possible legislation. Testin asked them to come back in a few weeks to share with him a draft of possible legislation that we want to pursue. 

Meeting 2 – David and Shawn met with state Rep. Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) who is the Assistant Democratic Leader of the state Assembly. She is David’s home state Rep. Rep. Hesselbein has a deep interest in the auction industry and wants to be helpful. She asked that we keep her updated with a possible bill draft and also encouraged to make sure any legislation we work on be bipartisan. She also took a photo with David for the Middleton newspaper and shot a video that she will be sharing on her social media accounts with David where David was doing an auctioneer tongue twister. 

Meeting 3 – David and Shawn met with state Rep. Cody Horlacher (R-Mukwonago) along with Steve Schwerbel who is a staffer with state Rep. Romaine Quinn (R-Rice Lake). Quinn was our legislative champion last session and currently sits on the Assembly Licensing Committee. Horlacher is the Chair of the Assembly Licensing Committee, which is most likely where our bill will be referred to once it is introduced. Horlacher is a free-marketer and comes from the mindset that there should be fewer standards for licensing credentials. He was the author of legislation last session that would have lessened licensing credentials. That legislation did NOT become law.

Horlacher told them that he prefers legislation that creates more opportunities for licensed auctioneers instead of extending licensing credentials to those that conduct on-line auctions. He encouraged WAA to find instances where on-line auctions have more advantages due to lack of regulation that licensed auctioneers have. And, if we find those instances, he would work with WAA to “level the playing field” by reducing regulatory barriers for licensed auctioneers. He also said that he has not heard of any impelling reason that cries out for increased licensing for on-line auctions. He asked us to work with the Dept. of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) to find out if there have been any outrageous instances of fraud or abuse by on-line auctioneers that have caused damage to individuals and that may need legislation to prevent those instances from happening again. Horlacher’s insight is important because he is the Chair of the Committee. 

Meeting 4 – David and Shawn met with state Rep. Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc). Rep. Kurtz is our sponsor for our WAA Capitol Day on April 18, 2019. Rep. Kurtz has an interest in our issue and wants to be helpful to us in obtaining whatever information we may need from the DSPS to find out the economic impact of the auction industry in Wisconsin and whatever violations of auction practices that may have occurred with on-line auctions.

Next Steps

Step 1 – WAA needs to determine what components it would like in possible legislation to “modernize” current auctioneer laws.  WAA needs to provide Sen. Testin and Rep. Quinn, our possible bicameral legislative bill sponsors, drafting instructions within the next three weeks in order to possibly have a bill draft by our April 18 Capitol Day. This means WAA needs to decide what exactly it wants in possible legislation that modernizes the industry. Then, once WAA decides, it will have to make sure that our legislative sponsors agree with those changes and determine if has any chance to move forward in Chair Horlacher’s Assembly Licensing Committee based on Horlacher’s insight detailed above. And, we will want to sure any possible legislation has bipartisan support.

Step 2 – David and Shawn should meet with the DSPS Sec.-designee Dawn Crim and her senior staff to introduce ourselves and discuss what are some possible current regulations/rules could be applied and/or removed that modernizes the industry when it comes to “leveling the playing field” between licensed auctioneers and those that are not.

Step 3 –  WAA members in the next few weeks or so have to provide answers to the questions raised above. Those answers should factor in the real-time analysis detailed above of where things stand with key lawmakers in the Capitol, so WAA legislative committee members can provide direction moving forward with WAA’s legislative strategy between now and our Capitol Day on April 18.

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We look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow for our Day on the Hill! 

We look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow for our Day on the Hill! 

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