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Chamber Wins 3 Emmy Awards

Tania Kohut on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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The Greater Memphis, Tenn., Chamber’s Communications & Programming Team recently brought home three Mid-South Emmy Awards in the Writing, Editing and Arts categories for “The Soundtrack Project.”

The Project, a series of eight documentary shorts – or movements – produced by the Greater Memphis Chamber, began in 2010 as a partnership between the Chamber and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. The shorts bring together and highlight Memphis’ arts community and the local small business community through narrated stories and original music composed by symphony musicians.

“These multimedia movements serve as both a local point of pride and as a snapshot of Memphis’s business community for a global audience,” said John Moore, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber.  “You really get a sense of the authentic and determined spirit of our small business owners when you watch each video.”

According to the chamber’s press release, the businesses featured in the Soundtrack Project were chosen by the Chamber’s Small Business Council. The businesses then shared their experiences with Running Pony Productions, John Hubbell, Lance Murphey and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra who worked together to produce the final movements. The Symphony assigned three of its composers to work with the team, sending them on factory visits, citizenship swearing-ins, helicopter flights and canoe rides, to name a few.  Inspired by their interactions with the small businesses, the composers created original works, which when merged with the story, produced an insightful and honest movement for each short. 

Perhaps more Emmys are in the chamber’s future? Following overwhelming positive response, the chamber plans to produce more Soundtrack Project documentary shorts in the future. 

 

 

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Stateline 2013 State of the States

Chaaron Pearson on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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Stateline recently released its 13th annual State of the States looking at what key issues legislatures are debating this year.

Part One: Politics

This was the year of big majorities in state houses.

Part Two: Budgets

States are climbing out of their budget deficits, but Washington’s budget woes might dampen the rebound.

Part Three: Social Issues

States are moving faster than Washington on social issues.

Part Four: Environment

The nation is still recovering from 2012’s natural disasters and the forecast for 2013 doesn’t look much better.

Part Five: Health Care

The Affordable Care Act will bring the U.S. closer than ever to universal health insurance. Just how close it gets will be up to individual states.

Tags: 2013 State of the States, State of the States, Stateline

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For Your Members: Unconstitutional NLRB Recess Appointments

Chaaron Pearson on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 8:00:00 am 
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As you may know, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in Noel Canning v. NLRB that three members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) were unlawfully appointed in January 2012, and the NLRB therefore lacked a quorum to conduct official business. Small businesses may have NLRB matters pending or recently decided that may be affected by the Noel Canning decision. In some cases, employers must act fast to benefit from the decision. Here is a memorandum of the potential effects of the decision prepared by the law firm that successfully argued the case on behalf of the U.S. Chamber and Noel Canning.

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Big business gets involved with corrections reform

Chaaron Pearson on Friday, February 1, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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The Texas Association of Business (TAB) has decided to make criminal justice reform a key focus of its legislative priorities. TAB is pushing to expand evidenced-based rehabilitation and corrections programs,  reduce drug sentencing laws  and modify some state licensing laws.

TAB President Bill Hammond says: “We’re sending too many people to the slammer. The taxpayers and the business community are both being harmed.” 

The move is a part of a recent national trend favoring corrections reform, but TAB’s new role could be the biggest that business has played yet. TAB admits it lacks criminal justice expertise, but it favors “good public policy” and believes reforms to the current corrections system will help it stay competitive. 

Read more: Big-business lobby enters fray on criminal justice reforms

ACCE corrections reform resources:

 Chamberpedia: Corrections Reform

Chamber Executive: Pitching Evidence Based Policy: Getting More Bang From Your State’s Buck

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For Your Members: Don’t Wait to File New H1-B Petitions

Tania Kohut on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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Here’s an item your members should take note of if they hire foreign nationals. This news alert, courtesy of Kansas City, MO, law firm Lathrop & Gage, LLP, came to ACCE’s attention from Mary Birch, former president of the Overland Park (KS) Chamber of Commerce. Today, Mary is the firm’s government relations coordinator.

The alert is reprinted here with permission from Lathrop & Gage, LLP.
 

Increase in Demand for H-1B Quota Suggests Employers Should Not Wait Beyond April 1, 2013, to File New H-1B Petitions

Employers who hire foreign nationals often do so in a classification under U.S. immigration law known as “H-1B.” This category is used often to fill jobs in occupations that typically require at least a bachelor’s level education in a specialized field. Examples of jobs for which the H-1B category is used might include engineers, physicians, graphic designers, scientists, accountants, and teachers.

To hire a worker in H-1B status, an employer must obtain authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). For many years, Congress has imposed an annual quota on the number of new H-1B cases USCIS can approve for a federal fiscal year (October 1 through September 30). An H-1B case can be filed up to 6 months in advance of the date an employer wants to hire a foreign worker. Hence, the earliest a case can be filed for the quota in an upcoming fiscal year is April 1 of the fiscal year before.

Prior to the downturn of the economy in 2008, the demand for H-1B workers consistently exceeded the annual quota. As a result, employers routinely filed all of their H-1B cases for an upcoming fiscal year on the April 1 before. USCIS then used a lottery to decide which cases it could process without exceeding the quota.

When the economy slowed, the demand for H-1B workers dropped dramatically, so it was no longer essential for an employer to file its H-1B cases for the next fiscal year by April 1 for the cases to have a shot at being processed. Over the last three years, however, the situation has changed. The period the quota for the next fiscal year has remained open after April 1 has gotten progressively shorter as the economy has improved.

For Fiscal Year 2011, the quota stayed open approximately nine months. For Fiscal Year 2012, the open period lasted approximately seven months. For the current fiscal year, 2013, the quota was only open for about two months.

It will therefore be prudent for employers who want to hire H-1B workers for Fiscal Year 2014, which starts October 1, 2013, to file their cases on April 1, 2013, lest they not be able to file at all. Considering the steps that need to be completed for filing, employers should begin the H-1B process in the next few weeks, if not sooner.

Examples of foreign national prospects for whom employers may need to file H-1B cases include the following:

  • Those in student (F-1) status who are currently employed based on Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization or who are about to complete their degree programs;
  • Those currently working for another employer in another nonimmigrant status such as L-1;
  • Those who may wish to change their nonimmigrant status to H-1B from another status, such as J-1 or TN; and
  • Those recruited from overseas.

The annual H-1B quota mandated by Congress is 65,000, with an additional 20,000 reserved for those who hold U.S. master’s degrees or higher. A limited number of employers - higher educational institutions, nonprofit entities affiliated with higher educational institutions and nonprofit and government research organizations - are not subject to the quota. A limited number of foreign nationals, such as those who have previously been counted towards the quota and granted H-1B status and physicians who have received “Conrad 30” waivers, are also exempt from the quota.

 

© 2013 LATHROP & GAGE, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Lathrop & Gage, 2345 Grand Blvd., Suite 2200, Kansas City, Missouri 64108.
The information contained in this document is provided to alert you to legal developments and should not be considered legal advice. Specific questions about how this information affects your particular situation should be addressed to your legal counsel. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.

 

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On a roll. . . at the top

Tania Kohut on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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At only 30-years-old, Mike Evans is on a roll . . . all the way at the top. And, people in Naperville, Ill., are recognizing this young talent. Last December, Evans took the helm of the Naperville (IL) Area Chamber as its new president and CEO, following five years as executive director of the Bolingbrook (IL) Chamber of Commerce. Get to know Mike Evans, who is eager to “foster the next generation and help them to grow and become leaders and entrepreneurs,” when you read this article from last week’s Naperville Sun.

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Medicaid Expansion

Chaaron Pearson on Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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At the start of 2014, Medicaid is to be expanded due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to people with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. That expansion was expected to take in approximately 16 million uninsured people nationwide.

However, the Supreme Court’s ruling allows states to opt-out of the expansion. Thus, many governors across the country have said that their state will not expand Medicaid coverage as outlined in the ACA. This also means that those states will not be receiving the federal dollars tied to the expansion, as states that agree to the Medicaid expansion will have 100 percent of the costs paid by the federal government for the first three years.

Fiscal concern begins after the first three years when states are expected to shoulder up to 10 percent of the costs. Those increased expenses in that fourth year and beyond could strain already costly Medicaid programs.

Chambers will be watching this issue closely as the time comes for state legislatures weigh in on the issue.  Join the conversation about Medicaid expansion at the next Government Relations division call on January 15, 2013. Details found at acce.org.

More reading:

For a snapshot across the country, visit advisory.com’s map of Medicaid positions.

To read more about ACAs impact on Medicaid, visit Medicaid.gov

Stateline.org has a number of articles about Medicaid expansion:            
Court Lets States Opt out of Medicaid Expansion
For Some States Medicaid Expansion May be a Tough Fiscal Call
Obama Win Means Big Health Care Decisions for States

Tags: ACA, Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, Medicaid Expansion, Obamacare, public policy, state budget

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Riding Success Wave in North Myrtle Beach

Tania Kohut on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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For North Myrtle Beach (SC) Chamber President Marc Jordan, CCE, last week’s editorial in Myrtle Beach’s The Sun News was perhaps the best Christmas gift he received. The newspaper published an editorial saluting the chamber’s five-year growth plan and gave a nod to Jordan’s “obvious and contagious passion.”

Despite the tough economy, the chamber’s initiative, “Building North Myrtle Beach,”  whose goal was to raise $2.5 million over five years, has met great success. Not only has the chamber already met its goal, but they are now planning to raise $3.5 million. And most remarkably, it’s all been driven by the private sector, with the rallying call for support coming straight from Jordan.

ACCE joins The Sun News in commending Jordan and his team’s tremendous effort! Read more about the campaign when you read the editorial in its entirety here.

 

 

 

 

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Is Your Chamber "Closing the Loop?"

Tania Kohut on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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In this YouTube video, WACE President Dave Kilby explains how, in order to excel as the voice of business, it's important for chambers of commerce to report how their elected official voted on key business issues. Click on the image below to view the video.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hoboken is Hob"open"

Tania Kohut on Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 12:00:00 am 
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Local businesses in Hoboken, N.J., many of which were affected by Hurricane Sandy, are getting some attention and support from their local chamber of commerce. Earlier this month the Hoboken Chamber of Commerce launched a campaign, “Heart Hoboken? Let's Keep the Charm,” promoting the city as a place to eat, drink and shop.

According to an article on NJ.com, Greg DellAquilla, president of the Hoboken Chamber of Commerce, says that since Hurricane Sandy, “many business owners are reporting business has been down roughly 30 to 70 percent, depending on where they are located.” But, he noted, “We are open for business. The hurricane left out-of-towners unaware that we are open, or hesitant to come here thinking that there is a lot of damage. And there was...but there are perhaps 20 stores that are still closed while hundreds and hundreds are open.”

Read more about the chamber’s campaign here.

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