Regulatory Reform in Ohio

Ian Scott on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:15:55 pm 

Two regulatory reform bills are working their way through the Ohio House.  Both could have a significant positive impact on businesses in the state.

The Small Business Regulatory Relief Act (Ohio HB 311)would require state agencies to conduct a cost-benefit analysis on each rule and regulation to ensure that it does not pose an undue burden on small businesses.  In addition, HB 311 creates the office of the Ohio Small Business Ombudsperson to act as a liaison between small businesses and state agencies.  Further, HB 311 establishes the Small Business Regulatory Review Board to review agency regulations and cost-benefit analysis, and ensure that small businesses are not being disproportionately impacted by these regulations.

The Common Sense Regulation Act(HB 230) was reported out of the House State Government Committee last week.  HB 230 would develop a system by which individuals and small businesses can be electronically informed when new rules or regulations are being developed.  In addition, HB 230 would provide for an ombudsperson at each state agency, establish the office of the small business advocate, and create the small business round-table to ensure that small businesses have an avenue to receive information and have their concerns and questions addressed.  HB 230 would also create customer service standards for each state agency employee to ensure that small businesses are being treated fairly and consistently in each of their interactions with regulatory bodies.

How refreshing to see a couple of positive policy notes this Wednesday afternoon.  If you have examples of good, pro-business legislation on the move in your state, please share by leaving a comment.

Thanks to the advocacy team at COSE (Council on Smaller Enterprise) for the background write ups on HB 311 and HB 230.

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Bangor Chamber Opposes TABOR

Ian Scott on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 3:29:01 pm 

An update to last week's posting about the TABOR ballot referendum in Maine - The Bangor Chamber has come out in opposition to the measure.  Here is their statement in relation to Question 4 (TABOR) and Question 2 (excise tax reduction)

"While we fully support efforts to improve Maine's business climate and economic development, our board does not believe that either of these ballot proposals would accomplish that," said John N. Diamond, chairman of the Chamber's board of directors. "Both proposals contain elements that the board believes could seriously undermine local infrastructure as well as Maine's economic competitiveness. In light of that, the board believes that passage of either proposal would be detrimental to our region and our state."

Click for the whole news item from the Bangor Daily News

The Portland (ME) Regional Chamber also opposes TABOR.  Their website offers a great history of Tax and Expenditure limiting legislation in Maine over the past 20-25 years.  Click HERE for that brief history.

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TABOR in Maine

Ian Scott on Monday, October 12, 2009 at 5:30:37 pm 

Last month we featured a blog post about a TABOR (Tax Payer Bil of Rights) ballot referendum in Washington State.  Well, it is on the ballot in Maine too.

Voters in the Pine Tree State will decide on Question 4 - The Maine Tax Relief Initiative.  This is state's second vote on a TABOR provision, a similar measure was rejected in 2006.

Like other TABOR laws, the measure would cap government spending at the previous year's budget with and adjustments for inflation and population growth.  Any spending over the set limit would require voter approval via ballot referendum.  The cap applies to the general fund, but also special revenue funds like transportation.  This proposal would use 2010, a year of significantly reduced tax revenue, as the baseline budget  year. 

Here are links to local organizations on both sides of the debate:

The Maine Chamber of Commerce has not taken a position on the issue.  In a press release dated Sept 22, the Chamber announced that their board was unable to reach a consensus.

The Androscoggin County Chamber held a forum of the Tabor Initiative July 29, 2009.  Chamber President Chip Morrison moderated.  The panelists provided a clear recap of the arguments for and against TABOR and took questions.  Click HERE to watch video of the forum.
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State Budget Woes Abound

Ian Scott on Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 12:55:52 am 

A blog post last week featured a link to a news article about the Lansing Chamber's "Countdown to Shutdown" billboard.  Well, news out of Michigan suggests they are right on track.

The Detroit News reported todaythat Michigan Governor Jill Granholm sent letters informing state employees of a layoff starting Oct 1 - tomorrow.  The thousands of pink slips were sent because state leaders have failed to pass a constitutionally mandated budget before Oct 1.

Click here to read more: Granholm sends layoff notices ahead of shutdown

Michigan isn't the only state with budget woes.  The Wall Street Journal reported today, "state tax revenues in the second quarter plunged 17% from a year earlier."  Declining tax revenue is forcing states to reevaluate service levels.

Click to read:  Falling Tax Revenues Slam States

Do you have ideas for "smart cuts" to help state and local governments balance revenue and expenditure?  Leave a comment or share them on the Policy Clearinghouse Group on LinkedIn.

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Senate Dems Propose Cap and Trade

Ian Scott on Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 12:30:08 am 

Senators Boxer and Kerry today introduced legislation to cap carbon emissions.  The bill is similar in nature to proposals in the House of Representatives, but sets even larger reduction targets.

This proposal comes roughly two months before negotiators plan to discuss an international climate change treaty in Copenhagen.

Read more about this issue from the Washington Post: Senate Democrats Seek Political Traction on Climate Bill

For sample energy policy statements from local chambers of commerce, check out the Policy Clearinghouse.

Have you surveyed your chamber members about their opinions on Energy Policy, Cap and Trade, and Climate Change?  If so, please leave a comment and share your results.

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Sheboyagan Shores

Mick Fleming on Monday, September 28, 2009 at 5:36:46 pm 

Very interesting 20-hour trip to Sheboygan, Wisconsin last week. I visited with a few dozen chamber leaders, most of whom were good Cheeseheads who make frequent trips to Lambeau Field. Following my formal after-dinner remarks -- the infamous "Deathbed Confessions" speech -- I followed the group to the nearly ubiquitous hospitality suite. During dinner, I had been assured by my hosts that "Suite 427 will rock!" I can't say that the assembled mid-westerners were rocking, but they were certainly sharing.

During the informal gathering that stretched long into the night, I bounced from one conversation to the next.: a local brewery's need for help with marketing . . . a struggle to restore demand for boat engines . . . an interim CEO whose city council was trying to pull the chamber's already lean bed tax funding. One communications director was shifting from printed to electronic communications and another was reviving a dormant glossy magazine. A story from a chamber leader who was fighting the likelihood of new state fees led to a revelation about another who was working behind the scenes on a governor's race still 18 months away. One of the chamber leaders had her head buried in one hand, with her cell phone in the other, as she tried to deal with a personnel issue at 10 p.m. In the hospitality suite, I heard exclamations about the short-sighted decisions of sponsors and the suffering being endured in various industry sectors, as well as the recession-busting success of others. One guy needed Badger tickets for a VIP and the other needed help saving their hospital -- both scored useful contacts somewhere in the room.

There on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, on a balmy September evening, I listened to the stories that are chamber life. Thanks for sharing.

Next stops? Nashville and Beijing.

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Critique of Spokane Proposition 4

Ian Scott on Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 5:25:53 pm 

Last month we posted about Spokane's Proposition 4, also know as the "Community Bill of Rights."  This collection of 9 amendments to the city charter would confer city residents the right to a locally-based economy, affordable housing, affordable health care, renewable energy, and  prevailing wages and apprenticeships.  And that's just 5 of the 9 amendments!  This 1,135 word proposal would impact everything from land use to labor relations in Spokane.

The Proposition's text is extremely (perhaps intentionally) vague, and it includes no discussion of how to pay for the rights that it would guarantee

Proposition 4 also opens the door to massive litigation by stating: "Residents, workers, neighborhoods, neighborhood councils, and the City of Spokane shall have the right to enforce the Community Bill of Rights."

This week the Washington Policy Center released Citizens' Guide to Proposition 4, a straightforward critique of the Community Bill of Rights proposal.  Their key finding were:

  • The Community Bill of Rights will expand government entitlement programs, not individual rights.
  • Taxpayers could be on the hook to pay for proposed programs that have no funding mechanism in place.
  • The broad policy agenda is not affordable under the cities current budget.
  • The measure will likely face scrutiny in the courts under the state's "single subject law."

Download Citizens Guide to Spokane Prop 4

Because of the scope and potential impact of this proposal, and the probability that it could become contagious, you owe it to your community to follow what's happening in Spokane.  Check out my post from Aug 30 - Spokane "Neighborhood Bill of Rights" - for links and more information.

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Attracting Air Service to the FL Panhandle

Ian Scott on Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 12:55:41 am 

The Pensacola Bay Area (FL) Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with other chambers and economic development agencies in Northwest Florida to help bring service from Southwest Airlines to the Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport.

Their Pledge Luv campaign ( asks area residents to submit pledges to buy a specified dollar amount of Southwest gift cards as soon as Southwest Airlines announces service to the Pensacola airport.  Each pledge is a binding legal agreement.  Cool idea!

Why Pledge Luv you ask?  LUV is the stock exchange moniker for Southwest Airlines, which is based at Dallas Love Field Airport and uses a hear as part of their logo.

Click to go to the Pensacola Chamber Website -

Click for local press coverage - New airline looking to boost local economy

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Chamber Headline Roundup

Ian Scott on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 12:38:52 am 

Here are several chamber related headlines from the past week that caught my attention.

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Michigan Chamber Foundation Launches "Great Ideas" Forum

Ian Scott on Monday, September 21, 2009 at 5:40:16 pm 

The Michigan Chamber Foundation has launched a new project that aims to collect and discuss innovative, creative and transformative ideas to help advance quality of life in Michigan.  The project is supported by a website - - that will allow citizens of Michigan to submit potentially great ideas comment on the ideas of others.

There are few constraints on submissions.  The project welcomes innovative ideas for new programs/efforts/concepts at the neighborhood, local, regional or statewide level.  It also accepts links to other examples.

Great ideas will be organized into six categories:

  • Rebuilding Communities & Transportation
  • Enjoying Michigan's Vast Resources
  • Achieving a Healthy Michigan
  • Revitalizing Michigan's Economy
  • Improving Education Attainment
  • Modernizing Government at All Levels

Click to visit the Great Ideas for Michigan website or read more in this article from the Detroit Free Press.

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