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Retiring Workforce in Fond du Lac

ACCE Webmaster on Tuesday, August 12, 2008 at 11:59:29 pm 

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.

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ACCE Member Named to Governor's Health Care Panel

ACCE Webmaster on Tuesday, August 12, 2008 at 12:11:03 am 

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:  dlauver@salinakansas.org

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Local Headlines - Gas Prices

ACCE Webmaster on Thursday, August 7, 2008 at 7:25:53 pm 

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.
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Local Headlines Roundup

ACCE Webmaster on Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 11:43:31 pm 

Here are some local news stories making headlines across the country today:

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State Legislatures in Special Session

ACCE Webmaster on Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 12:06:43 am 

State legislatures in Kentucky, Nevada and Virginia convened special sessions starting today, all are scheduled to address important budget and funding issues.

In Kentucky, Governor Steve Beshear called a special session to tackle public pension reform.  The Kentucky Chamber has actively lobbied for a solution to what it describes as a "severely under-funded public pension plans" in the Commonwealth. The special session comes after the Senate and House each passed pension reform legislation during the regular session but failed to agree on a common proposal. Leaders from both houses have already reached an agreement on many of the sticking points.

To get a detailed summary of the proposed plan, check out Frankfort Inside Out, the Kentucky Chamber's policy newsletter.

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine called legislators back to Richmond to discuss a new transportation funding package.  The proposal, which may raise as much as $1.1 billion per year, will replace taxes and fees that were once collected by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA).  The Virginia Supreme Court ruled in February that granting authority to the NVTA to collect taxes was unconstitutional.

Nevada legislators are back in session to discuss a budget shortfall in the state.  Some have suggested cutting a 4% pay increase for state employees as a way to bridge the state's $974 million budget deficit.

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Make Your Newsletter Matter

ACCE Webmaster on Tuesday, June 17, 2008 at 9:50:00 pm 

If no one knows what you are doing, then why do it at all?

I ask chamber leaders this question every day, and I ask it to remind them that communication is one of the most important things a chamber must do to meet their member's expectations.

Keep your newsletter stories concise and your headlines bold and large. I recommend that articles not exceed 150 words and your headlines should be no less than 20-point font.  Remember, the number one goal of a newsletter is for your members to read it. Sometimes we get caught up in the trials of producing the newsletter and we forget to focus on whether or not our members will actually read it.

In this day and age, you and your members are bombarded with thousands of communications per day via the internet, television, newspapers, etc. So take a risk and be bold with your communication and get members to read your messages.

The best way to be bold with your communication is to highlight chamber efforts that matter to every member on the front page of your newsletter. This often means that advocacy should be the front page of practically every newsletter.

Hundreds of members do not really care how much fun a handful of members had at the last golf tournament.  Golf tournaments and pictures of your board of directors are important, but not important enough to be on the front page of your newsletter. Those types of things belong beyond page two.

The only message that should be on the front page of your newsletter are the things that matter to every member. Economic development, advocacy, how you are solving local problems and impacting the your economy; are things that every member cares about.  Fluffy golf tournament pictures and stories only matter to the few when the purpose of your communication effort is to convince the many that your chamber really matters.

- Shaun Lumachi, President, Chamber Advocacy

For more information about Chamber Advocacy, click HERE.

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Oklahoma Immigration Law Put On Hold

ACCE Webmaster on Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 5:15:12 pm 

Yesterday a federal district court judge delayed enforcement of a portion of Oklahoma's immigration legislation pertaining to employment on the grounds that is it probably unconstitutional.

The US Chamber of Commerce, together with the State Chamber of Oklahoma, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the Tulsa Metro Chamber, the Oklahoma Restaurant Association and the Oklahoma Hotel and Lodging Association, filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Oklahoma's HB 1804 this February.

The bill, which went in to effect on November 1, 2007, is dubbed the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act.  It restricts undocumented immigrants from obtaining an ID or receiving any public assistance, obligates police to check the legal status of anyone arrested for any reason, and mandates deportation for anyone without proper legal resident status. The law also makes it a felony to provide shelter, employment or transportation to an illegal immigrant; obligating employers to verify the legal status of their employees. Sanctions including increased taxes, contract termination and litigation are imposed on companies who fail to comply.

The injunction is a big win for the Oklahoma business community.  According to Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center (NCLC) which represents the U.S. Chamber in the litigation, "The Oklahoma law unfairly shifts the burden of immigration enforcement from government onto the backs of businesses."  She added, "Piecemeal state legislation is not the answer to our nation's immigration problems."

Click HERE to read the press release from the US Chamber of Commerce.

Click HERE to read the story from the Kansas City Star.

For background information about Oklahoma's immigration legislation visit PolicyClearinghouse.org.

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Stop Hugging Elected Officials. Start Holding Them Accountable

ACCE Webmaster on Monday, May 19, 2008 at 12:12:00 am 

Publishing a vote record on your elected officials is one of the most important tools a chamber government affairs program can provide the business community. Your chamber's vote record is the only public link between your position on proposed laws and how your elected officials voted on those potential laws.

If you do not keep a vote record, you are not holding your elected officials accountable for their votes and how those votes impact the businesses you represent.

Most people think raising money and playing politics is an elected official's job. Not true. Elected officials have one primary responsibility: to vote. Your chamber, therefore, has a responsibility to hold elected officials accountable to your business community by comparing their votes with your positions.

Many other organizations hold the same elected officials accountable to the people they represent, maybe that is why they get more of what they want and you get less of what you want.

- Shaun Lumachi, President, Chamber Advocacy

For more information about Chamber Advocacy, click HERE.

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Chamber Government Affairs Programs that Work

ACCE Webmaster on Friday, May 2, 2008 at 5:00:00 pm 

Each year, at every level of government, policy is enacted that affects the business community. As the representative of the business community, chambers of commerce are responsible for having an active voice in the creation and implementation of such policy. Ask yourself this question: was our chamber at the table? You must answer affirmatively.

It is incumbent upon a chamber of commerce to have an active and effective government affairs program to add value to membership.  Moreover, it is imperative that a chamber of commerce drive policy, not simply watch as policy is created. 

There are four fundamentals to creating a program that will bring the necessary level of advocacy to your chamber.  They are:

  1. Local, regional, statewide, and national public policy development.  Having a well developed policy platform from which to advocate is crucial to effectively driving public policy.
  2. Actively track issues that impact you membership. Creating a system to follow every development regarding pertinent policy issues is paramount.
  3. Expand your reputation as a respected advocate.  By establishing a policy platform and actively monitoring the issues affecting your membership  your presence in the community will be heightened.  Become the “expert†on issues.
  4. Creating a membership that is aware of how the political process impacts their business.  Communication with your membership is vital to the success of your program.

An effective government affairs program should motivate your members to engage in the political process and impact issues, legislation and elections. Creating grassroots activism is the goal for any program. To educate and mobilize your grassroots base, each of the preceding fundamentals are vital.

“Government affairs,†“policy platform,†and “grassroots advocacy†may not be the sexy buzz words that typically motivate your membership.  They are, however, the key to protecting your member’s from onerous policy that could directly impact their ability to grow their business and create jobs.

- Shaun Lumachi, President, Chamber Advocacy

For more information about Chamber Advocacy click HERE.

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2007 Business Tax Estimates

ACCE Webmaster on Friday, April 25, 2008 at 5:56:28 pm 

ACCE recently posted an interesting comparison study on the state and local taxes businesses paid in 2007.  The study includes comparative data from all 50 states and also includes information on the amount of tax paid related to the level of service provided.

This useful study was produced by Ernst and Young in cooperation with The Council on State Taxation (COST).  It is available for download by ACCE members on PolicyClearinghouse.org.

ACCE members, click HERE to link to this valuable research.

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