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Card Check Compromise?

ACCE Webmaster on Monday, May 11, 2009 at 10:15:00 pm 

Is a compromise in the works for the controversial Card Check bill?  This quote from Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), EFCA's chief proponent in the Senate, suggests so...

"Compromises are going to be made. ... It probably won't be card-check because too many people are opposed to it now."

A editorial in today's Washington Post - The Imperfect Union Bill - acknowledges EFCA's inherent flaws but suggests that there are currently unfair barriers to union organization.  The editorial chastises the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace saying, "Instead of engaging in a good-faith effort to fix the problem, the group, the Coalition for a Democratic Workforce, chooses to deny that there is a problem."  

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, last week, released a letter urging the Senate to oppose "union efforts to trump up a so-called "compromise" on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) will further violate worker rights and place an undue burden on small businesses." 

Here are some other articles that suggest a Card Check compromise:

Iowa Independent - Harkin: Not enough support to pass ‘card-check’ bill
Philadelphia Inquirer - Card-check may be stripped from bill

 

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Stimulus: Cities vs. States

ACCE Webmaster on Monday, May 11, 2009 at 9:35:36 pm 

An article in today's Wall Street Journal highlights some of the headbutting going on between mayors and governors over stimulus funds.  The article states:

Across the country, fights between local and state authorities have erupted as federal stimulus money is doled out. About $280 billion of the $787 billion federal stimulus package passed in February is set to flow through state and local governments.

Many mayors are grateful for getting some money they wouldn't have had otherwise. Still, mayors of several cities have blasted their governors for denying them money for big projects, for favoring suburban requests over urban needs, and for taking back state aid after doling out federal dollars.

Click HERE for the full article.

The city vs. state funding struggle, illustrated in this article by Charlotte, New York City, and Providence, underscores how challenging it is to organize and cooperate regionally when money is allocated by political jurisdictions.

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Card Check Passes in Hawaii

ACCE Webmaster on Saturday, May 9, 2009 at 4:51:00 pm 

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported this week that a Card Check provision passed both houses of the Hawaii legislature.  A similar bill passed last year and was vetoed by Gov. Lingle.  The Star-Bulletin's account is below:

The Democrat-controlled state House and Senate gave final approval yesterday to the measure, which permits a union to be certified if a majority of workers sign union authorization cards.

The proposal is mostly limited to agriculture businesses because they’re not covered by federal labor rules, and it exempts businesses with less than $5 million in annual revenues. Similar legislation expanding unions in many more industries nationwide is pending in the U.S. Congress.

The measure now heads to Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, who vetoed a previous “card check” bill last year. Lawmakers would then have to decide whether to use their overwhelming majorities to override her veto, which they declined to do last year.

Check back for more on this important emerging issue.

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Site Selection Magazine Names Top 10

ACCE Webmaster on Friday, May 8, 2009 at 5:52:36 pm 

The May issue of Site Selection magazine listed 2008's 10 top performing economic development groups in the country.  Organizations from cities in the central part of the country dominated.  Chamber led economic development organizations were well represented, claiming 4 of the top 10 spots.  A number of chambers were also listed among the honorable mentions.

Congratulations to all of the top 10 and particularly these ACCE member chambers:

- Cincinnati USA Partnership
- Dallas Regional Chamber
- Greater Houston Partnership
-
Pittsburgh Regional Alliance

Chambers recognized in the honorable mention category include:

- Greater Akron Chamber
- Chattanooga Area Chamber
- Greater Des Moines Partnership
- Fort Worth Chamber

For full results and information about all the 2008 honorees, check out Site Selection magazine.

 

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Politics of Twitter

ACCE Webmaster on Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 6:31:00 pm 

For many of you this won't come a new news, but Twitter is quickly becoming the social media platform of choice for elected officials.  Stateline.org's Kiera Manion-Fischer recently examined the Twitter phenomenon in an article titled: Twitter Becomes a Political Tool.  Here is an excerpt:

"California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) used Twitter Tuesday (April 28) to let people know what his state was doing about swine flu. And one of Schwarzenegger’s would-be successors – San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) – alerted supporters that he would run for the state’s highest office in 2010 via the same process.

Schwarzenegger and Newsom are among a growing number of politicians and agencies taking advantage of the latest tool in text messaging to inform the public and rally support."

The article includes links to Twitter Directories of Congressional Representatives, State Legislators, and other government officials.   Click HERE to read the full article.

Follow the ACCE Policy Clearinghouse on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/ianscottacce

In my Policy Clearinghouse Column for the upcoming issue of ACCE's Chamber Executive magazine I explore social media applications for chamber government affairs programs.  I used Twitter exclusively to conduct interviews and write the column.  Look for the summer issue of Chamber Executive in your mailbox in early June.

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States Making Cuts - Are They Smart, Enough?

ACCE Webmaster on Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 10:01:01 pm 

With many legislative sessions close to wrapping up, state budgets are dominating local headlines.  The general story is that states are favoring expenditure cuts over revenuehikes to close gaping budgets.  That is good news for businesses and taxpayers, particularly in this economy.  But are states making smart cuts?  Are they cutting enough?  Will the cuts cause short term pain, long term consequences or both. 

Check out these articles and leave a comment with your opinion:

Today's Worthington (MN) Daily Globe read - State economic development funding falls victim to budget

"Minnesota economic development programs would be trimmed $21 million in a year when many programs are facing cuts in light of a $4.6 billion state budget deficit."

In Nevada, the Las Vegas Sun announced - Salary cuts, furloughs OK’ed in budget deal

"State workers will take a 4 percent pay cut by being forced to take one furlough day a month while teachers and higher education employees also will be asked to take a 4 percent cut."

The Boston (MA) Globe offered this dire headline  - State budget to be 'doom and gloom' for years to come

"The state’s commitment to health care reform, its funding levels to cities and towns, and the amount of money that goes to education could all be dramatically restructured."

The Detroit (MI) Free Press announced - Michigan lawmakers OK furloughs, budget cuts

"About 300 state employees face layoffs – including 100 State Police troopers – and most state workers will take six unpaid days off before October under a $300 million budget-cutting plan approved by lawmakers today.

The cuts...will slash $41 million in state aid to local communities...and a long list of human services programs would be reduced or wiped out.

The budget cuts are the first step toward erasing a projected $1.3-billion deficit for the current year...the rest of the $1.3-billion deficit will be filled in with about $1 billion in federal stimulus money."

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Health Care Reform Policy options

ACCE Webmaster on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 1:51:37 am 

Download 042809 Health Care Description of Policy Option

For better and for worse, it looks Washington DC is set to do something serious about health care reform.  Our job is to provide input so the result is "for better".

Lets read this and give input about how to end up with policy that helps.

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Blue Law Battles

ACCE Webmaster on Friday, May 1, 2009 at 8:16:37 pm 

A countywide vote is underway in Lubbock, TX to allow expanded alcohol sales and mixed beverage permits for restaurants. The official election day is May 5, but early voting is open.  Voter turn out for this single issue is already the second best in history, second only to the 2008 Presidential Election. 

For background information about the petition to call this election, check out www.letlubbockvote.org.  Leaders from the Lubbock Chamber have been involved in this issue for several months.

In Alabama, H.B. 373, also know as the Free the Hops Bill, has made a long, arduous trek to the state senate.  The bill, supported by the Birmingham Regional Chamber, would change the maximum alcohol by volume (ABV) for beer from 6% to 13.9%.  Many craft beers and imports have an AVB over 6% and, thus, are not currently sold in Alabama.  The law also inhibits the micro brew and brew pub industry.  A final senate vote is pending.

For more info, check out www.freethehops.org or the Caputo Report - the Birmingham Chamber's Official Policy Blog.

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Carbon Capture Legislation

Ian Scott on Friday, May 1, 2009 at 12:32:00 am 

As congress starts to debate cap-and-trade legislation designed to drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the coal rich state of Montana is developing policy that would allow CO2 to be buried underground.

Montana is not alone in its plans to liquefy and bury CO2, states from New Jersey to Missouri are also looking at carbon sequestration projects.  This is a pressing issue since C02 is under heavy fire and more than 50% of our electrical power comes from coal fired plants.

The potential legal issues related to carbon sequestration, however, are extremely complex and would requiring in-depth policy making.  The problem, not many people know much about burying carbon dioxide.

For a detailed look at this important issue, check out this article from Stateline.org: States retooling laws to bury coal's CO2

Stateline.org is is a nonprofit, nonpartisan online news site that practices journalism in the public interest by reporting on emerging trends and issues in state policy and politics.  It is a project of the Pew Center for the States, a division of the Pew Charitable Trust.

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Statehouse Belt Tightening

Ian Scott on Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 11:25:20 pm 

Everyone is cost cutting these days, even state legislators.

In Illinois, House Speaker Michael Madigan has introduced H.B. 4445 - legislation that would eliminate raises for representatives and top state officials, including the newly seated Governor, and force lawmaker furloughs.  Cutting raises is expected to save $1.1 million. 

Not to be left out of lawmaker haircuts, California is one-upping Illinois with a proposal to slash elected official's salaries by 10%.  The proposal quickly drew support from Gov. Schwarzenegger who said, "state government needs to cut back just like every California family and business is doing."

One state not in on the trimming is North Dakota where a bill sent to Gov. Hoeven would raise legislator's pay $6 per day to $141 daily during the legislative session.  Lawmakers would get another $7 per day bump next year.

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