Opening Day = Economic Impact
It is finally spring and the prospect of opening day has thousands of baseball fans salivating. The St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association (RCGA) reminds us that, in addition to bats and mitts, our communities can look forward to dollars and cents.
A study released Friday by the St. Louis RCGA estimates the economic impact of the Cardinals at more than $280 million. That's more than just tickets and hot dogs; its lodging, transportation, dining and retail for 3 million fans, plus employment at the stadium and all the hospitality venues supported by the games. Click HERE or visit the RCGA page for more details.
As far as sports are concerned, I've got a one track mind until after tonight's NCAA Championship game in Detroit. Go Heels!
Maryland Internet Sales Tax
Legislators in Maryland have proposed a tax on internet commerce to help plug budget deficit gaps.
The tax is modeled on a 2008 internet sales tax that passed in New York in 2008. Legal challenge by Amazon and Overstock.com to the New York tax failed; an appeal to that ruling is pending. According to the Gaithersburg, MD Gazette:
The sales tax would be collected by affiliates of Amazon and similar retailers based in Maryland that earn commissions for sending Maryland customers to those retailers through referrals, such as a banner on their Internet sites.
The Maryland Chamber opposes this tax which it says "attempts to end run constitutional prohibitions on state sales tax nexus." California and Hawaii are considering a similar tax. This is certainly a contagious issue.
Click HERE to read more.
Card Check Gone? Not by a Long Shot.
If you think Specter's announcement that he opposes Card Check means that the issue will go away then think again.
According to a recent article from Politico, unions will use the upcoming legislative break to rekindle the battle:
Richard L. Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, told POLITICO during an interview at the group’s headquarters: “We hope to take good advantage of the recess to reconnect with our members. The other side is declaring victory, but this is just starting.”
The US Chamber continues to work on this high priority issue, and is preparing new TV ads and running print ads in select markets.
Check out Politico's article: Unions renew battle over union law
ACCE DIALogue Featuring Sen. Trent Lott
ACCE is hosting a DIALogue teleseminar featuring the Honorable Trent Lott on April 14 at 1pm eastern. This is a rare chance to hear a seasoned DC veteran discuss the most pressing federal issues of the day - stimulus funds, future appropriations, and business/government relations.
Expect candid insight and plenty of opportunity for interaction and questions.
For more information and to register, click HERE.
Hawaii Card Check
The Card Check bill may have hit a speed bump in Washington last week, but in Honolulu it is still going strong. The Hawaii Legislature is moving forward with their own version of Card Check (SB 1621) at the State level.
Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle is critical of the bill:
"At this time it would be one more negative aspect of doing business in Hawaii and we're trying to turn that around and create jobs right now."
"We think that's an important right in America, for a worker to be able to make that decision (whether to unionize) and be able to make it in the privacy of the voting booth, not because someone approaches you and asks you to sign up."
Lingle, who vetoed a similar bill last year, has promised to another veto if it passes in 2009.
For more on the Card Check Bill in Hawaii, click HERE.
Got That Border Crossing Feeling?
Starting June 1st, new regulations will demand that every US citizen entering the country via land or sea present a passport. Under current regulation, a government issued photo ID is acceptable at the busy border crossings into the US from Mexico or Canada.
This new regulation could have a serious economic impact on border cities like Detroit, Buffalo, El Paso and McAllen where workers and good move across the national border on a daily basis.
See what the Detroit Chamber's and ACCE's own Sarah Hubbard had to stay about the changes in a USA Today article:
The requirement could delay the hundreds of thousands of people and billions of dollars of goods that enter the U.S. each day by land, said Sarah Hubbard, vice president of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.
"I don't think this change is on the radar screen of most people that will be affected," Hubbard said. About $1 billion of goods per day - largely Canadian auto parts - arrive in Detroit in trucks crossing the Ambassador Bridge from Canada, she said.
Prescription Discount Card in Rhode Island
RIRx, a statewide discount prescription drug program, launched last week in Rhode Island. The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce played an instrumental role in creating the program, and is leading the public awareness campaign.
The downloadable card is available for free to any state resident. It offers an average discount of approximately 30% on name brand and generic prescription drugs. It is not an insurance plan.
"The cost of health care is a top concern for Rhode Island's residents," said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. "With unemployment on the rise, due to the stalling economy, many individuals and families are finding themselves without health insurance. RIRx is designed give our residents access to much needed healthcare cost savings."
For more information check out: http://www.rirx.com/
For the Providence Chamber's press release check about he RIRx program, click HERE.
Even After Specter, Card Check Still Key
Business leaders and proponents of the secret ballot had reason to cheer last week when Sen. Arlen Specter announce that he would not support Card Check and would not vote for cloture on the bill. But as the Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel editorialized, "the real test ... is yet to come."
According to Strassel and many other beltway observers, Card Check is not over:
"In theory, his (Specter's) decision to join his 40 GOP colleagues in a filibuster kills the bill. In reality, the business community just moved into a far more dangerous phase. Big Labor spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama and other Democrats and get card check; it won't give up. And the unions know the corporate world has a history of fracturing."
So the onus is business to keep up the pressure and stay together. Her last paragraph sums it up:
"...the lesson of card check so far is that, united, the business world still wields extraordinary clout. ... Business's continued unity, or lack of it, will decide what happens next."
Click HERE to read the full editorial.
Guns in the Workplace in Alabama
Proposed legislation in Alabama would prevent employers from establishing rules the prohibit firearms in workplace parking lots. This highly politicized issue has both property rights and workplace safety ramifications.
As of now, at least eight states: Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi and Oklahoma, have statutes that prohibit employers from banning weapons on their own property. State legislatures in Ohio and Indiana have previously considered and rejected legislation restricting business owners from banning guns in the workplace.
Check out the Caputo Report: The Official Public Policy Blog of the Birmingham Regional Chamberfor more information on the Alabama bill, a link to the bill's text, and an online opinion poll.
Check out the Guns in the Workplace page at PolicyClearinghouse.org for more information.
Click HERE to read the NRA's position on the guns in the workplace issue.
Click HERE for an article from USA Today that provides a nationwide overview of 'guns in the workplace' laws.
Americans Realize Importance of Infrastructure
A recent survey by Kansas City headquartered architecture and engineering consulting firm HNTB found that, "Americans overwhelmingly believe the nation's infrastructure is crumbling and are willing to spend more of their tax dollars to fix it."
According to HNTB's press release about the America THINKS survey:
"...four in five (81 percent) Americans agree making sacrifices to pay for infrastructure improvements now will make the difference between a more prosperous or a more difficult future for the next generation. Almost seven in ten (68 percent) are willing to pay more taxes to support highway and bridge maintenance and new construction."
The survey also asked questions about how stimulus infrastructure funds should be spent and about preferences for how infrastructure funds should be raised. You might be surprised at the support for congestion priced toll roads.
Click HERE for more info.