Mandatory Paid Sick Leave
Mandatory paid sick leave is a hot issue, particularly for small business. Right now 12 states are considering bills that would require all employees to offer paid sick days to their employees. Washington D.C. and San Francisco have already enacted such legislation.
For more background information on this important issue, check out this AP story from the York (PA) Daily Record: States push laws to require paid sick days.
State Budget Woes
If your state is facing a serious budget deficit, you are not alone. This article from the Council on State Taxation (COST) highlights some states in dire fiscal straits.
Status of the States: Deteriorating Budget Conditions Necessitate Cuts & Special Sessions
Fiscal year 2009 commenced for most states on July 1st, and many states' revenue projections are already looking overly optimistic (refer to the National Conference of State Legislatures' State Budget Update: June 2008). As a result, a handful of states have taken a proactive approach and have either begun immediate budget cuts or have scheduled special sessions.
- New York – Having identified a $26.2 billion budget deficit over the next three years, Gov. Patterson (D) is convening an "emergency economic session" of the legislature today, August 19th. Gov. Patterson is calling for $1 billion in budget cuts by reducing financing for Medicaid, assistance to municipal governments and the City University of New York, while legislative leaders, however, have only identified $200 million in cuts. Further, the Gov. recently created a Council of Economic Advisors to review the state's budget situation and provide the Gov. with additional recommendations to address the state's fiscal crisis. Click here to view the Council's membership.
- Florida – Now leading the nation in the jobless rate (Miami Herald), paired with the fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis and surging energy prices, the states' tax collections fell approximately $1.8 billion below estimated March projections for FY 2009, according to a report issued by state economists August 15th. Pressure is mounting on Gov. Crist (R) to call a special session to address the growing budget shortfall.
- Georgia – As July tax collections plummeted 6.6% from this time last year, Gov. Perdue (R) ordered across-the-board spending cuts of 6%. The state faces a $1.6 billion budget deficit and there are increasing calls for a special session to consider further budget cuts or raise taxes.
- Virginia – On August 15th, Gov. Kaine (D) called for $32 million in new spending cuts to balance the state's current two-year budget. These cuts are in addition to the $17 million in reductions made to the budget in the last fiscal year that will be carried forward into the current state spending plan. In addition, earlier this year, the Gov. and lawmakers eliminated $1 billion from the original spending plan the Gov. had proposed for fiscal year 2009.
Note: this is not an exhaustive list of states addressing budget shortfalls but rather is representative of the economic trends states are currently encountering.
In case you haven't already heard, Card Check (aka The Employee Free Choice Act) is poised to be a major issue for the next congress.
Traditionally, union organizing has been done through secret ballot elections. A union will ask workers at a facility to sign cards indicating an interest in an election. Once 30% of workers have signed, the union can ask the Federal National Labor Relations Board to hold a secret ballot election. Both sides have a chance to make their case to workers during the campaign period, which on average lasts about 40 days. If more than 50% of workers voting choose the union, the union is certified and the employer must begin collective bargaining.
Under Card Check, a union would be certified based only on signatures. Union organizers would ask workers to sign a union authorization card. Once a bare majority had signed, the union would be certified and the employer would have to begin collective bargaining. There would be no secret ballot election — in fact, once more than 50% of workers had signed cards, it would be illegal to hold such an election.
Steven Law, Chief Legal Officer at the US Chamber, explained the pending bill and its implications during a workshop at the ACCE Convention in Pittsburgh. If you missed Steven's presentation, but would like to find out more about Card Check, visit Policy Clearinghouse.org for more details.
Retiring Workforce in Fond du Lac
Rapidly retiring baby boomers are poised to create a major workforce crisis. For an eye-opening look at what the wave of retirees may do to your local economy over then next 20 years, take a look at this study from the Fond du Lac (WI) Association of Commerce.
Click HERE to download detailed results and analysis of the Fond du Lac Retirement and Departure Intentions Survey. You will have to log-in with your ACCE user name and password to view the survey.
ACCE Member Named to Governor's Health Care Panel
Dennis Lauver, President and CEO of the Salina (KS) Chamber of Commerce, was recently appointed to a panel assembled to examine how the latest communications technology can lead to cost savings ing the health care industry in Kansas. Lauver is one of eight Kansans appointed by Governor Sebelius to the panel which will advise policy makers on ways to lower health care costs through better information technology.
Click HERE to read the press release.
Lauver, who is also the incoming chair of the ACCE Government Relations Division, would greatly appreciate any information that chamber colleagues could offer about information technology applied to health care from their regions. You can reach Dennis via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Local Headlines - Gas Prices
Despite the price per barrel of oil leveling and prices at the pump slowly decreasing, gas prices are still making headlines across the country.
- Tax revenue from gas and car sales are down reports the Raleigh News and Observer. High prices at the pump have prompted conservation among consumers, and the decrease in consumption means less money to fund roads and bridges. Gas and automobile taxes supply over half of the NC Department of Transportation's $3.9 billion budget.
- Gas prices have spurred action on alternative fuels in Georgia. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution a team of high ranking state officials, including Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, are rallying for energy independence and want to put Georgia at the forefront of alternative fuel and low cost energy.
- Just when you thought high gas prices were hurting your economy, the Seattle Times reports the dual impact that $120 per barrel for oil is having in Alaska. While the state treasury is flush with revenue from high oil prices, residents in remote towns across the state are facing $7 per gallon for gas in the near future and soaring prices for food. A 10 lb. bag of potatoes in Barrow currently goes for $14.99.
Local Headlines Roundup
Here are some local news stories making headlines across the country today:
- From the Dallas Morning News: DART (Dallas' local transit system) will not raise fares despite soaring fuel costs. Across the countryFares and ridership numbers have increased in tandem with rising gas prices.
- From the Cleveland Plain Dealer: Ford Motor Company hit with a $1.4 million fine for violating state air pollution laws at a casting plant in Brook Park. The plant,scheduled to close in 2010, was not updated with a new furnace system.
- From the Sacramento Bee: Earthquake retrofitting for the nation's 3rd tallest bridge will cost $43 million, estimate Placer County, California officials. The price tag, most of which is expected to be covered by State and Federal bridge funds, underscores the pressing nationwide infrastructure problem.