LED Lighting the Way
Cities from Milwaukee, WI to Glendale, AZ plan to tap stimulus funds to convert traditional streetlights to LED streetlights. They hope to reap two-fold benefits from the conversion - savings and jobs.
First, long term cost savings. LED streetlights use about half the electricity of traditional incandescent lights. The energy savings quickly add up to taxpayer dollar savings while reducing overall energy consumption. LED lights are initially more expensive, however they last up to 7 times longer than traditional street lights, reducing long term maintenance costs.
Second, LED lights represent a potentially high growth new green industry. Not only are there potential new businesses and jobs in producing and installing LED lights, the streetlights could be powered by solar panels and power usage could be monitored and controlled remotely with transmitters. Both technologies represent potential new businesses. Cities who leverage stimulus funds to convert to LED streetlights could spur demand that would create new jobs.
Check out the recent article on stimulus funding for LED streetlights from USA Today.
For a more in-depth look at the potential for the cost savings potential of LED and monitored streetlights, check out the Energy Efficient Steetlights Whitepaper authored by Robert Grow from the Greater Washington (DC) Board of Trade. Grow is a graduate of the ACCE/Ford Foundation Regional Sustainable Development Fellowship. He conducted the streetlight study while going through the year long program.
Card Check Media Coverage
Public debate over the imminent Card Check proposal is heating up. Over the past few days I've seen more than a dozen Card Check related articles and op-eds from local newspapers across the country. If you're local paper isn't covering this vitally important issue, perhaps you owe the editorial board a phone call.
Here are a few recent Card Check related articles and editorials with a choice quote from each:
Greenville News: "Card Check" unfairly favors unions
"American workers have the right to organize, and no one should deny them that liberty. But there is a fair and proper way for that to happen, and it includes a secret-ballot vote away from potential coercion of both employer and union. The current system allows for that. The Senate should reject this bill."
Detroit Free Press: Will the Employee Free Choice Act aid or undo labor's gains?
"Passing EFCA might placate the unions and large portions of the Democratic caucus but it will impede recovery, retard economic prosperity in the future, and further alienate President Obama from the mainstream. On all counts, the EFCA fails as a pragmatic reform that works for the betterment of the economy."
Montgomery Advertiser: Bill mere payoff for union support
"The "Employee Free Choice Act" before the U.S. Congress is an oxymoron. The unions want to do away with secret ballots in elections to form a union at a place of employment"
Las Vegas Sun: Past friends of card check still weighing bill
"...As the debate over the Employee Free Choice Act heats up as labor's top priority, Berkley has yet to offer her support. Why? "That's a good question," Berkley said recently in discussing a bill vigorously opposed by business. "I'm not comfortable enough to sign on to it yet. I suspect that I will. I'm just not there yet."
Gas Tax Hike on the Way for Mass?
A group of business leaders in Massachusetts is advocating for an increase in the state's gas tax. Their rationale: "without investments in roads , bridges, trains, and subways, the state risks losing companies that are hemmed in by bad access and risks hindering workers’ ability to get to paying jobs."
To find out more about the proposal, click HERE to read an article from the Boston Globe.
You could also check out this post from the Boston Chamber's Blog.
The Man in the Middle of Card Check
If you had to name one person as being 'at the center' of the legislative debate about Card Check, you'd have to pick Arlen Specter. The 5 term US Senator from Pennsylvania was the only Republican to vote for The Employee Free Choice Act back in 2007. He is also the only Republican identified who is not stronglyy opposed to the bill this year. So far he has been silent regarding his stance.
His position (or rather non-position) has certainly made him the subject of much attention and speculation from organizations and individuals on both sides of the card check debate. The AP addressed this issue and the possible primary and election implications for Specter (whose term is up in 2010) in an article yesterday.
Click HERE to read the story.
Obama Taking on Health Care
Health care is a perennial issue for chambers. Ever rising insurance premiums put a huge burden on businesses, large numbers of uninsured add cost to the entire system. Well-intentioned state coverage level mandates exacerbate the problem by raising the price floor for insurance. In a nation full of tough policy issues, this one is right up there among the most challenging.
Since the Democratic primaries, President Obama has made health care one of his bailiwick issues (you may remember debates during which Obama and now Sec. of State Clinton squabbled over whose health plan would cover more uninsured Americans). As of last week, following the address to Congress and the release of his 2010 budget, the president is signaling that he isn't waiting to tackle health care.
With several billions in stimulus funds already slated to help digitize medical records and a budget that includes a $630 billion reserve fund to finance health care reform, the money is starting to line up. Following today's nomination of Kansas Governor and former state insurance commissioner Kathleen Sebelius to take over the Department of Health and Human Services (and barring another tax scandal) it seems the leadership is lining up. What remains is a detailed plan. For an interesting look at what an Obama health care plan will look like, check out this article from today's LA Times.
So is health care reform in the next year or two a reality? Or just a big diversion? Weigh in with your thoughts, leave a comment below.
More on the Mileage Tax
Regular Clearinghouse Blog readers will recall an article out of St. Louis speculating about a mileage tax from my Transportation Headlines post last week. This week I dug up another interesting take on the future prospects for a mileage tax to fund transportation, this time from the National Journal's Expert Blog on Transportation.
The blog post is interesting, but you should check out the dozens of expert comments from senior executives, trade association leaders and elected officials.
Click HERE to read the post.
Ambitious Agenda in Cincinnati
Earlier this month in Cincinnati launched a sweeping new regional action plan, Agenda 360. The plan's ambitious goals are to "create 200,000 net jobs in the 15-county region by 2020; add 150,000 young professionals to the work force by that time; and ensure that every household earns at least 250 percent of the federal poverty level." Myrita Craig, formerly the V.P. of small business and programs at the Cincinnati Regional Chamber of Commerce, has been named executive director of the Office of Agenda 360, which will be housed at the chamber to oversee implementation of the plan and report progress to the community.
Incidentally, Myrita Craig is currently participating in the ACCE/Ford Foundation Regional Sustainable Development Fellowship. For more information on this educational opportunity from ACCE click HERE or call Ian Scott at ACCE.
Candidate Recruitment Programs
Many chambers organize candidate recruitment programs to attract knowledgeable, business-friendly candidates to run for local elected office. These programs range from informational sessions to campaign assistance. We have assembled some sample documents from chamber run candidate recruitment programs to help you launch your own program - they are available at PolicyClearinghouse.org.
Thanks to the chambers in Des Moines, Green Bay, and Orlando for sharing information about their programs. If your organization runs a great candidate recruitment or political leadership program, please share it with us, leave a comment below.
There are a wealth of resources on PolicyClearinghouse.org. From survey results to annotated links to sample legislative agendas and award winning communication campaigns, ACCE has a wealth of resources to help make your job a little easier. Check out the site, scroll over the Additional Resources tab, you might be surprised by what you find.
Note: You must be to be logged-in with your ACCE username and password to access the Policy Clearinghouse website.
Looking for tax related resources? The ACCE PolicyClearinghouse can help you access some of the best available. Here are a few examples:
Tax Digest on the Stimulus Package from accounting firm RSM McGladrey - this report outlines the basics of more than 2 dozen business and energy incentives passed in the economic stimulus package. An important resource to share with your members. Download Stimulus Package -TaxDigest
Tax Foundation Special Report 164: Budget Shortfalls in Many States Present Opportunities for Tax Reform - this in-depth report outlines all the state's facing a budget deficit, diagnoses the tax climate in the states with the largest deficits and recommends reforms. Reforms are chiefly based on: broadening tax bases, lowering rates, and eliminating targeted tax credits. Follow this link to access the 1report: http://www.taxfoundation.org/publications/show/24321.html
Council on State Taxation (COST): Fiscal Year 2008 Business Tax Burden Study -Despite the impacts of the recession, business taxes grew 2.7% in fiscal year 2008 to a total of $590 billion nationwide. This study provides an in-depth look at the state and local taxes paid by businesses in 2008. Download 08 -State and Local Business Tax Burden Study
housing development idea...show my ignorance
Someone suggested to me that bringing back the Section 235 mortgage program (was done away with during the Nixon administration) might be a great idea.
I'm not enough of a policy wonk (and I lack the time right now) to fully understand the concept in terms of what its impact would be in the 2nd decade of the 21st century.