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The ACCE Policy Clearinghouse Blog is moving. Chamber of commerce leaders will now find the most recent state and local public policy news and information on the ACCE website at - While you are there, take a look at ACCE's other blogs: Chamber Spotlight - A look at our members and their achievements in the news. Mick's Blog and Travelogue - Observations, travel and musings from ACCE President Mick Fleming. ACCE Convention Blog - Find the latest information on speakers, events, restaurants, hotels and educational sessions for the ACCE Annual Convention. Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
You don't have to look far to find reasons for negativity in this economy. That's why articles that provide a glimmer of optimism (actual optimism, not just political spin) catch my attention. I ran across just such an article while enjoying the beautiful weather on my back patio over the Labor Day weekend. This Sunday the Washington Post ran a column called Five Myths About US Exports authored by Bruce Katz and Jonathan Rothwell from the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program. What you thought you knew about exports may surprise you. What should inspire all chamber leaders to think more... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
Chambers across Florida continue the fight against Amendment 4, a ballot measure that would have voters - not the representatives they elected - approve any amendments to the local land use plan, which every Florida community is obligated to have. In practice this means citizens would regularly decide hundreds of technical land-use and zoning issues at the ballot box every year. For more details about Florida Amendment 4, check out Ballotpedia. Supporters have labeled the amendment "Hometown Democracy." Opponents have called it the "Vote on Everything” amendment. In the Monday Florida Times-Union, columnist Abel Harding said this about Amendment 4:... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
You don't have to search long to find articles about public pension liability these days. And they are appearing in the biggest publications from high profile authors. Last Friday the Wall Street Journal ran an opinion column from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger focused on the retirement cost of California's public sector workforce. Here's an excerpt: As former Speaker of the State Assembly and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown pointed out earlier this year in the San Francisco Chronicle, roughly 80 cents of every government dollar in California goes to employee compensation and benefits. Those costs have been rising fast. Spending... Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
Today the Chicago Tribune ran a 'watchdog' type story highlighting two suburban Chicago police officials who's salaries jumped by more than 50% in their last year of employment. The author draws the link between inflated final year salaries and every escalating pension liability. Here's an excerpt: Towns have long been aware of the financial time bomb created by pension deficits, but what happened in Chicago Ridge was hardly unique. Some municipalities are sweetening deals for their top police and fire administrators even as they call for pension reform in Springfield. Illinois' pension system -- including police, fire and public-sector employees... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
Public pension liability is a looming crisis that threatens long term fiscal stability in almost every state. A 2008 study by the Pew Center on the States found that there is a $1 trillion gap (yes, trillion with a T) between the money set aside by states for public sector pensions and the projected cost of fulfilling pension promises. Potential solutions to this problem have generally included: contributing more to public pension funds, improving investment fund oversight, and raising the retirement age and reducing benefits for newly hired public employees. None of these reform measures directly impact existing retirees, but... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
The city of Richmond, VAis hoping to alleviate confusion and congestion for downtown drivers by converting one-way streets into two-way streets. City leaders and urban planners hope the move will make Richmond, particulary the convention center area, a more walkable, drivable and commerce-friendly destination. Here's an excerpt from a Richmond Times-Dispatch article: Richmond is poised to take a much bigger step that promises to transform the neighborhoods around the convention center, making them easier to navigate by car and much friendlier to people on foot or bicycle. The city is about to hire a consultant to determine the most efficient... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
Readers interested in yesterday's post about the Department of Education's Race to the Top program will probably be intrigued by an article from tracing the emergence of a common curriculum. Here is an excerpt: "...the push for common standards didn’t start with the federal government. Rather, it began in the states. In 2005, the National Governors Association led an initiative to get states to use the same measures to calculate graduation rates. That initiative evolved into a broader effort over the past year, as education officials from 48 states — Alaska and Texas did not participate — worked on... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
This November, in addition to picking their Congressional Representatives, voters will decide on a host of important ballot measures. That is nothing new. Last year, an off-year election, voters in six states decided on 26 statewide ballot measures ranging from gay marriage to gambling to medical marijuana. This year, however, many of billions of dollars will be at stake on the ballot. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 146 statewide measures have qualified for the ballot this November. Many of those measures will have serious ramifications on state budgets and taxpayers. For example, voters in Washington State (one... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
Congratulations to the 2010 ACCE Chamber of the Year winners: East St. Tammany (LA) Chamber of Commerce Greater Owensboro (KY) Chamber of Commerce Oak Ridge (TN) Chamber of Commerce Tulsa (OK) Metro Chamber One winner was selected from between two award finalists in each of the four total revenue categories. Winners were announced at the ACCE Convention in Milwaukee on August 5th. For more information about the award and to read the program synopsizes from the winners go to Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
Yesterday the Department of Education announced winners for phase 2 of the Race to the Top program. Nine states, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, plus the District of Columbia will split $4.35 billion in Federal grants to enhance K-12 education. First round winners Tennessee and Delaware split $600 million in March. The program was funded by the economic stimulus package. In all, 46 states and DC have applied for Race to the Top funding. To meet funding eligibility requirements, states have had to quickly implement education reform policies including: promoting charter schools, including... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
For small businesses, going green and sustainable has been shown to save money, motivate employees and illustrate a commitment to the community and environment. It is also a powerful marketing and branding tool, especially in today's economy. Join ACCE tomorrow (July 27) at 1pm for a Peer to Peer Connection tele-seminar to hear first-hand from two members of the Lancaster (PA) Chamber how Green Plus has changed the way they do business. You’ll also have a chance to talk with Dan Arnold, Director of Operations, from the Lancaster Chamber about launching, marketing and implementing Green Plus. Participants can expect to:... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
More than 11,000 Gulf Coast residents gathered today at the Cajundome in Lafayette, LA for a rally to oppose the moratorium on offshore exploration. The crowd included public officials, business leaders and other citizens concerned about the economic havoc the drilling moratorium is already causing in Louisiana. Their argument is pretty simple. The moratorium has done more than halt new oil and gas exploration; it has brought to a standstill economic recovery in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast. The oil and gas industry is the primary economic driver in many of Louisiana’s costal parishes, directly employing tens of thousands... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
Successful regional leadership demands perseverance. As participant in the first round of the ACCE-Ford Foundation Regional Sustainable Development Fellowship in 2006, Gayle Anderson, President and CEO of the Greater Winston-Salem (NC) Chamber, began creating a development strategy for a key area in the Triad, North Carolina region. She set out to create a combined land use and transportation master plan for a 7,500 acre area between the Triad region’s three major cities – Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem. This piece of land, now know as Heart of the Triad, is home to several major employers, borders the region’s airport, and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
In late June, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels announced that the state would conduct a comprehensive review of sentencing guidelines and the prison system. The goal for this effort is to reduce growth in the state's prison population. The Pew Center on the States is assisting with the effort. Indiana Chamber CEO Kevin Brinegar wrote an editorial in support of the governor's proposal saying: "The more thoughtful we can be about housing and rehabilitating offenders, the more dollars the state will have for education, economic development and other public safety initiatives." Read more at: Many benefits of reducing state's prison population.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
By now you probably know that the US Justice Department is suing the State of Arizona over the constitutionality of SB 1070, the controversial immigration reform measure that has received national attention since it signed in to law this April. To read more about the federal lawsuit click here. For a business perspective on the Arizona bill, check out my interview with Tucson Chamber CEO Jack Camper, CCE. You may not know that, so far, this legal challenge isn't deterring other states from working on similar immigration legislation to present next year. According to the Washington Post: "Lawmakers in 20... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
Jack Camper, CCE, IOM President and CEO Tuscon (AZ) Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Arizona SB 1070, the state’s effort at immigration reform, has drawn national attention since it was signed by Governor Brewer in late April. The bill has been the subject of dozens of headline articles and editorials in major papers throughout the country and was even a major discussion item during Mexican President Filipe Calderon’s official White House visit last week. Controversy has centered on a provision in the bill which obligates law enforcement and other public officials, during a lawful contact, to determine the immigration status when... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
Besides grilling burgers and watching fireworks, I used the long 4th of July weekend to catch up on some reading. One article I dug into with gusto was the cover story from the June 28th issue of Time magazine - Inside the Dire Financial State of the States. The article sheds light on overlapping policy and political challenges that comprise the financial crisis facing most state governments. While many in the business and government communities have foreseen this crisis for some time, it has barely generated a blip on the national radar. Yet, as this article illustrates, Americans are already... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
Having cleared the House by a 219-206 margin, the DISCLOSE Act will now move to the Senate where supporters expect some changes. House sponsor Rep. Van Hollen (D-MD) is was quoted in The Hill saying: "They (The Senate) may have to make changes without harming the core of the bill," he said Wednesday evening. "In other words, no substantial changes." The bill is not expected to come up for discussion until after debate closes on financial reform regulation. Any changes to the bill would force a re-vote in the House that would slow down passage. For more on the potential... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
For 46 states July 1 is budget day. Last year, at least 6 states missed their budget deadlines and others passes temporary fixes. Despite equally daunting revenue challenges, budget battles have been less protracted this year. Here's how the blog described it: "With the notable exceptions of California, which adjourned without a budget on Monday, and New York, which is already three months overdue for a budget, state lawmakers elsewhere are finding more common ground this year. That could be because it’s an election year and restless voters may not be in the mood for politics as usual." Click... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
Despite concern from some Democrats, the DISCLOSE Act passed the House Rules Committee yesterday and is currently on the House floor where it may face a vote as early as today. I'm sure many Policy Clearinghouse Blog readers have been tracking the DISCLOSE -“Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections”- Act (also called the Schumer-Van Hollen Bill). In case you haven't, here is a brief recap of the bill's key points: CEOs of organizations sponsoring a political ad must appear on screen to “stand by their ad,” and in cases where money is funneled to an association,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
A federal judge in the US District Court in New Orleans has overturned the Obama administration's moratorium on offshore drilling. In his ruling Judge Feldman wrote: ''What seems clear is that the federal government has been pressed by what happened on the Deepwater Horizon into an otherwise sweeping confirmation that all Gulf deepwater drilling activities put us all in a universal threat of irreparable harm.'' While legal wrangling over this issue is not over (the White House has already promised an appeal), the ruling will come as welcomed news to many chambers in Louisiana. A dozen chambers have signed on... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
Working in coordination with Gov. Bobby Jindal and local elected leaders, dozens of chambers in Louisiana have formed the Gulf Economic Survival Team (GEST). Their primary goal is to urge the Obama Administration to rescind the six month moratorium on offshore drilling at depths greater than 500 feet. They contend that the drilling moratorium will cost the region thousands of jobs and impact the economy for years to come. The Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association compiled a report detailing the economic impact of the deepwater drilling moratorium. Click here to access the report. Chambers in Louisiana, spearheaded by Drake... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
Partners for Livable Communities (PLC) and the Institute for Sustainable Development have announced five finalists for the 2010 Green Plus Chamber of Commerce Award. The finalists are: Greater Cleveland (OH) Partnership / Council on Smaller Enterprises for their extensive array of educational, technical assistance and incentive programs to help members become more sustainable, especially in the area of energy efficiency. St. Louis (MO) Regional Chamber and Growth Association for leadership in he creation of the Climate Prosperity Project, a national effort to help chambers around the nation understand how conservation, efficiency and innovation can catalyze job creation. Greater Syracuse (NY)... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse
If you are still trying to make sense of what health care reform means for your small business members, I strongly suggest that you check out the Council of Smaller Enterprise's Health Care Reform Game Plan. This online brochure that Steve Millard and his team at COSE have put together provides a straightforward, concise overview of the 2010 Health Care Reform legislation, complete with definitions and action steps. The legislation roll-out time line on pages 3-4 is particularly helpful. Click here to access the report. Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2010 at Policy Clearinghouse