Indianapolis Hopes to Apply Transit Lessons from Denver
A group of 60 Indianapolis business and civic leaders recently visited Denver, CO on the 2008 Leadership Exchange, a new intercity visit program launched by the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce.
Mass transit and transit oriented development were two primary topics examined on the group's inaugural Leadership Exchange trip to Denver. The group was particularly interested in studying the regional approach to transit adopted to plan and finance Denver's FasTracks system. FasTracks is the Denver region's 12-year comprehensive plan to build and operate high-speed rail lines, expand bus service and build new park-n-Rides to efficiently move greater Denver's 2.5 million residents across the region.
To read more about the Indianapolis Chamber's 2008 Leadership Exchange and see what Chamber President Roland Dorson has to say about regional cooperation, click HERE.
Intercity visits are a great way to drive public debate about important issues like transit, education, workforce housing and downtown development. They bring your community leaders together to experience first hand how another city is addressing similar issues.
If you are interested to learn how an intercity visit program similar to the Indianapolis Chamber's 2008 Leadership Exchange can become a hallmark event for your chamber, visit www.acce.org/icv. There you will find a wealth of resources about intercity visits including sample budgets, itineraries and marketing materials. If you'd like a complementary copy of ACCE's A Guide to Intercity Visits call or email Ian Scott at (703) 998-3530 or email@example.com.
Chambers take a Stand on Ballot Initiatives
Voters in thirty-six states will decide 152 ballot initiatives today. There weren't any on my ballot in Fredericksburg, VA this morning, but there is a good chance you voted on at least one.
From a renewable energy mandate in California, to an income tax repeal in Massachusetts, to a proposal that would make English the official language in Missouri; there are dozens of ballot measures with serious business implications. Over the past few months, chambers of commerce have spent a lot of time, money and effort rallying support or opposition, here are some examples:
Pasadena (CA) Chamber of Commerce
The Pasadena Chamber Board of Directors unanimously opposed Propositions 7 and 10, both would institute renewable energy and alternative fuel standards. There was unanimous support for Proposition 11, a measure that would appoint a redistricting committee to redraw state senate lines. The board split on support for a $350 million school bond. 12 propositions made this year's ballot in California. Click HERE to read more about the Pasadena Chamber's positions.
North Shore (MA) Chamber of Commerce
The Board of Directors of the North Shore Chamber Board of Directors voted unanimously to oppose Massachusetts Question 1, a measure that would repeal state income tax. Their position is based on the belief that removing the state income tax would result in dire consequences for businesses in already economically-trying times. Click HERE to visit the North Shore Chamber Blog to read their rationale.
Howard County (MD) Chamber of Commerce
The Howard County Chamber is but one of many in Maryland to support Question 2, a constitutional amendment that would legalize slot machines in the state and dedicate roughly 50% of gross revenue from slots to an education trust fund. The chamber joins teachers groups, unions and others from across the state who see slots as a solution to the possibility of slashing services or raising taxes. Supporters also argue that allowing slots in Maryland will keep dollars at home that currently go to neighboring West Virginia or Pennsylvania. Click HERE for the coalition website in support of Question 2.
Greater Phoenix (AZ) Chamber of Commerce
The Phoenix Chamber took positions on 7 statewide ballot initiatives. One that has drawn significant attention is Proposition 200, also know as the Payday Loan Reform Act. Proposition 200 would protect the right of payday lenders to operate, but would set guidelines on fees and lending terms. The Phoenix Chamber, along with many other chambers, non-profit groups and community leaders opposes Proposition 200. The coalition group Arizonans for Responsible Lending, issues a press release on their website (www.200isnoreform.com) that quotes Todd Sanders of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce regarding the Chamber’s opposition to Prop 200: “With this kind of solution, and in particular, one industry, you’re never going to have the option to change it, and you’re going to voter-protect one industry.”
Chicagoland Chamber opposes Daley Dumpster Plan
The Chicagoland Chamber joined the LakeView East Chamber, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and condo owners associations from across Chicago last Friday to speak out in opposition to Mayor Daley's proposed commercial dumpster fee.
The fee, which would range from $100 to $300 depending on the size of the dumpster, would apply to all dumpsters, even those on private property. Daley hopes the new fees will raise $9 million next year and perhaps $25 million in subsequent years. Business associations are worried about the impact on small businesses that are already struggling in this economy.
"Tanya Triche, staff attorney for the Illinois Retail Merchants Association said a small grocery store with multiple dumpsters could end up paying an extra $600 a year in a city that already has the nation’s highest sales tax.
“Why pay additional fees here when you can put a store in Orland Park, in Elgin, or Indiana, where the cost of doing business is significantly less,” she said."
Click HERE to read the full article from the Chicago Sun-Times.
Detroit Chamber, Michigan Governor Petition for Big 3 Help
In an open letter published in the Detroit Free Press last Friday, Dick Blouse, President and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber joined Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) in a letter urging quicker distribution of federal loans to assist the Big 3 automakers: Chrysler, Ford and GM.
Last year Congress authorized $25 billion in low interest loans to help American automakers retool manufacturing to meet new fuel efficiency standards and compete in a changing global marketplace. The appropriated funds will be administered by the Department of Energy which has suggested that it may take a year and a half to disburse the loans. That is too long say Blouse and Granholm.
"It is an unprecedented time considering the American autos are facing a faltering global economy, an acute credit crunch, intense worldwide competition, shifting consumer demand, and expanded government regulations – all at the same time. Waiting to get much-needed resources to an industry where all of these forces are putting considerable pressure on severely strained companies is not an option.
The automotive industry, of which the American companies comprise a significant portion of the market, is an integral part of the nation’s economy. Over 13 million auto-related jobs are found throughout the country in every state. Delaying the federal loans will jeopardize countless workers across the nation."
The Detroit Chamber and the Governor are calling for the Department of Energy to expedite loan processing and help the Big 3 now.
To read the full article, click HERE.
EPA CO2 Regulation Pending
Global warming is a politically charged issue, but regardless of where you fall on the global warming spectrum from true believer to ardent skeptic, one issue that chamber leaders can agree on is the potentially serious impact of EPA greenhouse gas regulation.
Following the 2007 Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts vs EPA, the EPA was instructed to institute regulations to control greenhouse gas emission. They are currently in an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) phase and collecting public feedback on proposed regulation for CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
The pending EPA regulations would subject 98% of industrial buildings and hundreds of thousands of commercial sector properties to cumbersome, costly new regulation. The U.S. Chamber opposes CO2 regulation by the EPA on the grounds that it would cause 'regulatory chaos,' and is urging Congress to pass legislation preventing EPA from regulating greenhouse gas.
An article on PolicyClearinghouse.org provides a detailed overview, links and additional information.
Member Profiles: Michelle Griffin Young
Since joining the Government Relations Division roundtable at the 2008 ACCE Convention in Pittsburgh, Michelle has become an active participant in the Government Relations Division. Last Friday afternoon she took time to answer my four questions
ACCE: How did you get started in chamber work, and what keeps you in the industry?
Michelle: I started in chamber work as a college intern with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I was a broadcast journalism and political science major. After graduation I stayed on full-time with the US Chamber, working for a separate 501c3 focused on education. In that role I traveled around the country doing video interviews with CEOs on education partnerships. Later I moved into a communications role, and under Tom Donahue, I worked on the Federation Partnership program.
After 10 years in DC, I decided it was time to move back home to Pennsylvania. I worked as a representative for the county for a couple of years, during which time I was frequently in Harrisburg. All along, I worked frequently with the Lehigh Valley Chamber, and when they wanted to expand their public policy and advocacy agenda, I was eager to take on that role.
I firmly believe that business makes the world thrive, and chamber work lets me help businesses grow. Also, I'm a people person, and I think everyone should be proactively engaged. The chamber lets me work with people, and stay active in the community.
ACCE: What policy issues are currently occupying your time?
Michelle: Healthcare, transportation and taxes are the biggest three right now. We also started an energy and environment committee five months ago, and their work is ramping up. I also produce the chamber's weekly television show, Business Matters, and leading up to the election, we've conducted interviews with candidates for state and local office.
Click HERE to see clips from Business Matters, which airs every Monday at 7:30pm on WFMZ 69 in eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey.
ACCE: What are the biggest challenges your chamber/community currently face?
Michelle: I think the region's biggest challenge is revitalization of our urban cores. Our chamber foundation has set a goal of reenergizing and attracting residents to our cities' urban cores by 2015. Stronger central cities will help address problems caused by suburbanization such as traffic congestion and sewage, water and other infrastructure expansion. Vibrant urban cores will also help us attract and keep young people trained at the area's great universities
ACCE: Finish this sentence. Never again will I ...
Michelle: Never again will I not follow up on networking contacts. It was my News Year's resolution this year to keep in touch; you never know when folks you meet can be important partners in the future.
This Member Profile was also featued in the October Policy Clearinghouse/GR Division e-Newsletter.
City Council Training Question
I had this question come in from an ACCE members last week, and would appreciate any advice or feedback you could offer:
"I would like information on training/orientation classes for city council candidates. Specifically I am interested in the curriculum and structure of programs to educate people who are running (or considering running) for city council. This would include an overview of business issues, but may also address Roberts Rules of Order, ethics and other issues pertinent for elected officials."
If you have information to share could you please email or call me, Ian Scott, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 998-3530.
Ballot Initiatives to Watch
There is a good chance that if you vote next Tuesday, you will vote not only for candidates, but also yea or nay on an initiative. Voters in thirty-six states will decide 152 ballot initiatives this year.
Ballot initiatives and referendums are a major part of American elections. The number of initiatives has steadily increased every decade since the 1960's. During the past century west coast states have led the way with Oregon, California and Colorado atop the ballot initiative count and North Dakota and Arizona rounding out the top five.
According to the Initiative and Referendum Institute at USC, while tax and spending issues typically dominate in ballot initiatives, social issues are at the forefront this year. Their annual Ballot Watch report identifies all the measures hitting ballots nationwide and discusses trends. Gay marriage, abortion and animal rights are getting a lot of attention this year, but there are also number of business issues on the ballot.
Colorado Amendment 47, for example, would establish a right to work and prohibit mandatory union membership or dues payment. An Oregon measure would prohibit use of union dues for political purposes. Nevada, Louisiana, Oregon and Ohio all have propositions restricting use of eminent domain. California and Missouri voters will decide on renewable energy mandates.
For a full list of ballot initatives and analysis of nationwide trends, click to download the 2008 Ballotwatch 2008 Election Preview:
Survey Says...Card Check is #1 Issue
Results from the 2008 ACCE State Chamber Policy Survey are in and Card Check is the top concern for State Chambers of Commerce. Among list of 40 policy priorities, 89% of survey respondents ranked Card Check as either a priority or active issue with over half describing Card Check as one of their top policy concerns.
Renewable energy portfolio mandates tied Card Check with 89% listing the issue as priority or active. Roadblocks to new power plant construction and cost of health insurance were just behind, each with 84%. Rounding out the top five was state fiscal responsibility with 74%.
West Virginia Chamber Launches Health Care Agenda
Earlier this month Steve Roberts, President of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, rolled out a health care agenda with ten "pragmatic recommendations" around which the chamber believes there are "opportunities for consensus and advancement." The ten points are:
- Health Insurance - greater availability through tax incentives and small group pools.
- Electronic Medical Records
- Prevent Cost-Shift - funding of state health care programs should cover full cost, not shift partial costs onto private sector
- Personal Responsibility
- More Medical Education - more doctors and nurses for the state.
- Medical Homes - designed to promote healthy lifestyles, improve interaction between doctor and patient and use technology and care processes to coordinate health care services more timely, appropriately and cost-effectively.
- Community Care Clinics - resources to expand capability of community based and rural health clinics.
- Oral Health Initiative - preventative dental care
- Worksite Wellness - network of businesses and certified wellness centers and clinic to provide specialized intervention programs to at-risk employees.
- End-of-life Care - more planning and better understanding of options available during severe illness.
Click HERE to read more about each item in the Chamber's Health Care Agenda.
Click HERE to for an interview with Steve Roberts about the Health Care Agenda.