State Legislatures in Special Session
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.
Make Your Newsletter Matter
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.
Oklahoma Immigration Law Put On Hold
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.