Members of the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Ways and Means heard testimony on Wednesday in support of a bill that would provide small businesses with a tax credit to advertise in local media.
The Wisconsin Newspaper Association is the lead proponent of the bill.
Sponsored by Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville) and Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton), Assembly Bill 762 would provide financial relief to local media and small businesses that have been pummeled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the legislation, businesses with fewer than 100 full-time employees and less than $10 million in revenue would be eligible to receive a tax credit of up to $5,000 for advertising placed in Wisconsin-based media, including newspapers, radio and television stations and online news sites. The credit would expire after five years.
Novak, former editor of the Dodgeville Chronicle, told committee members on Wednesday, “Having worked in the newspaper industry for 25 years, I think this proposed credit will make a real difference. I believe this advertising incentive creates a win-win scenario for small businesses that want to advertise, customers and workers, and for local media.”
Speaking on behalf of the members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association were Mike Hollihan, Multi Media Channels, Richard Lee, Inter-County Cooperative Publishing Association, WNA President Gregg Walker, The Lakeland Times (Minocqua) and WNA executive director Beth Bennett.
“The best way for local business to reach its intended audience is through local media,” Bennett said. “The tax credit created by this legislation will make additional advertising dollars available to enhance local business messaging. Local advertising dollars will, in turn, sustain local journalism.”
Representatives of Wisconsin-based media were joined in supporting the measure by the Rebuild Local News Coalition. The group is comprised of 17 national organizations committed to strengthening local news. They represent more than 3,000 newsrooms, including many in Wisconsin.
“The Rebuild Local News Coalition strongly supports Assembly Bill 762,” Steve Waldman, chair of the coalition and president of Report for America said during Wednesday’s heading. “This smart bill would solve two problems at once — helping small businesses get back on their feet and helping save local news from destruction.”
The bill has gained support from several other state trade associations, including the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, Wisconsin Bankers Association, Wisconsin Community Newspapers, Wisconsin Chiropractic Association, Wisconsin Dental Association, Wisconsin Grocers Association, Wisconsin Independent Businesses, Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, Wisconsin Restaurant Association and the Tavern League of Wisconsin.