Policy Clearinghouse

State of the States

Chaaron Pearson on Monday, February 6, 2012 at 12:00:00 am 
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Last month, Stateline did a series on the State of the States. Click the links below for more detailed information on what 2012 holds for the 50 states in the union.

Will the GOP Moderate Its Approach?
Republicans are pushing an ambitious agenda, but seem to be doing it in a less confrontational way this year, wary that the voters will be watching and that partisan finger-pointing may cause them to lose their majorities.

What to Expect from Washington
A long siege of deadlock and dysfunction in Washington has left states frustrated and wondering what to expect from the federal government in 2012. About the only thing they know for sure is that it is not going to be a year of generosity

The Medicaid Problem
Continuing sluggishness in the economy means that Medicaid rolls are still rising. But with the federal stimulus program over, support from Washington is no longer going up along with enrollments. The result is that Medicaid spending is ballooning, despite deep cuts states have made over the past three years to make the federal-state health insurance program for the poor less generous.

Labor Fights Back
Labor is learning to live by a new set of rules governing collective bargaining and other matters, the product of new laws in nearly a dozen states. But labor also  is fighting back in some states, hoping to reverse some of what was lost and in some cases to exact revenge on political opponents.

A Better Budget Year
There are asterisks on all this positive news. While state revenues are generally up, they fell so far during the recession that most states have not caught up to where they were before. But for the first time in five years, some state legislatures are positioned to put money toward top priorities rather than cut, cut, cut.

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The Road to Sustainable Growth

Chaaron Pearson on Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 12:00:00 am 
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R. Marc Jordan, president and CEO of the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce wrote an excellent op-ed for The Sun News as a part of a weekly roundup of local issues and viewpoints for the area’s business leaders.  Jordan, a graduate of ACCE’s Ford Fellowship, makes the case for spurring regional, sustainable development. The North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce has a vision supporting a shared regional narrative, consensus building, innovation and change leadership resulting in sustainable growth and prosperity for everyone. Read the full article: The road to sustainable growth

Yesterday, it was announced that two new wind turbines would be erected on the oceanfront at North Myrtle Beach. These were purchased using a state energy grant awarded to the chamber. The chamber’s partnership includes the city, their utility, Coastal Carolina University, Clemson University and Orangeburg Technical College. Watch the news broadcast for full announcement: NMB propels wind energy plans

Tags: regional alignment, regionalism, sustainable growth

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Paying for Infrastructure with the Gas Tax

Chaaron Pearson on Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 12:00:00 am 
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How do you pay for infrastructure? Three states are looking at their gas tax.

Iowa lawmakers say gas tax increase is a 50-50 issue

Iowa’s senate majority leader says a substantial number of republicans and democrats in the state senate support investing in the state’s infrastructure. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s Transportation 2020 Citizen Advisory Commission recommended raising registration fees for new vehicles by one percent, establishing a new user fee for hybrid vehicles and a phased gas tax increase equivalent to a 10-cent hike. Read more: Sioux City Journal

The extra mile: Maryland gas tax could increase

Maryland’s legislative session begins Wednesday, and a proposed hike to the gas tax will be a big issue. Watch the video for more details, including how money from the tax would be used: WUSA9

Minnesota tax cut on autopilot

On July 1, Minnesota’s highway fuel tax will go up a half-penny per gallon. Unless there is legislative action, it won’t go up again—ever. While some may cheer, others are considering what that may mean for the safety, comfort, efficiency and even the cost of driving in the long run. Read more: editorial from Minnesota 2020

Tags: Gas tax, infrastructure, taxes

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Republicans Seriously Trailing Democrats IN Social Media Marketing

Chaaron Pearson on Friday, January 6, 2012 at 12:00:00 am 
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An interesting look at the Presidential candiates' social media presence from Overdrive Interactive.

(Boston, MA- January 4, 2011) Online and social media marketing agency Overdrive Interactive released a new infographic entitled, "Election 2012 Social Media Rankings." This infographic is a visualization of the 2012 presidential candidates’ social media rankings based on their cumulative Facebook likes and Twitter followers. The visual shows how many friends each candidate has amassed on the most important social networks: Facebook and Twitter.

The infographic is available for viewing, download, sharing and republishing at:

The ranking, and visualization of the data, shows a clear social media disparity between the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, and all the republican candidates.  The graphic shows how far the GOP must go to catch up with the social media marketing potential of the Democrats. President Obama has many social connections from his last campaign and has continued to build his social connections throughout his presidency. His current Facebook and Twitter friend counts exceed 36,072,492. This total is 22 times greater than the nearest GOP contender Newt Gingrich who has 1,611,128 and is 7 times greater than all the social connections of the republicans combined. (Statement is from data on 1/3/2012 at 3:40 PM.)

Overdrive Interactive’s CEO, Harry J. Gold says, “The sheer scale of the President Obama’s social media marketing platform is huge and could benefit the Democrats for years to come even after the elections and his presidency.” Gold added, “The media equivalent value of this kind of social presence and communications platform is certainly in the tens of millions of dollars and in most cases cannot even be bought – it has to be earned.”

The data was compiled though Overdrive Interactive’s social media tracking site, the Overdrive50, and its Election 2012 section. While still in beta, the site shows nearly real time and accurate listing of companies, organizations and people ranked by how many likes and followers they have amassed on Facebook and Twitter. Candidates featured in the Election 2012 section include Barak Obama, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Gary Johnson, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman and Buddy Roemer.

While Obama was at one time one of the most popular people on Facebook sitting at the top of the Overdrive50, he currently sits in position 15 of the behind the star and brand power of celebrities and entities that include Lady Gaga, Facebook, YouTube, Rihanna, Eminem, Justin Beiber and Coca Cola.

Overdrive is allowing Bloggers, publications and all media outlets to publish and broadcast the infographic image as long as it is not modified and when shown online, a link is given to the distribution page located at . The infographic will be provided in a variety of formats and sizes.

Overdrive Interactive is a full-service online marketing agency that brings together  social media marketing, paid search engine marketing, organic search engine optimization, online media planning and buying, online creative and web and application development to provide its corporate clients with fully integrated digital marketing programs that drive measurable results and ROI. For more information, please visit

Tags: 2012 Presidential Election, Democrats, Presidential Candidates, Republicans, Social Media

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Iowa Compact

Chaaron Pearson on Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 
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On Tuesday, Dec. 13 The Greater Des Moines Partnership helped launch the Iowa Compact focusing on uniting a diverse group of statewide partners to call for smart immigration reform. Utah, Indiana, and Maine have launched similar initiatives. Chambers in all 4 states have been key leaders in these efforts. The event has garnered significant national attention.

The Iowa Compact follows a pre-made cookie cutter format that can easily be replicated in the 46 states that have yet to create a compact.

New Poll: Iowa Republican Likely Caucus-Goers Support Immigration Reform

About the Iowa Compact

Press Coverage:

How the First Caucus State is Offering a Sensible—and Popular—Solution on Immigration Reform

The Gazette (Editorial): Find middle ground on immigration
December 14, 2011

Des Moines Register: ‘Enforcement-only’ immigrant efforts could hurt Iowa economy, especially farming, say leaders
By Donnelle Eller
December 13, 2011

Salt Lake City Tribune: Iowa launches immigration compact similar to Utah’s
By David Montero
December 13, 2011
Modeled after The Utah Compact, which was signed a little more than a year ago by key business, religious and political leaders, The Iowa Compact features similar language and goals. Lori Chesser, chair of the Iowa Immigration Education Coalition, ...

Quad City Times: Iowa group release initiative for stronger immigration policy
By Michael Wiser
December 13, 2011
She also serves as a chairwoman of the Iowa Immigration Education Coalition, a group that conducts research and provides briefs on immigration issues. “A lot of the detailed discussion still has to take place … we want to corral that debate. ...

Radio Iowa: Group calls on federal lawmakers to handle immigration reform
By Dar Danielson
December 13, 2011
A bipartisan group of business, law enforcement and religious leaders have formed what they call the “Iowa Compact” in a push for immigration reform. Members of the group spoke today on a conference call about the five key principles of the compact. ...

Public News Service: Local Leaders Sign "Iowa Compact" for Immigration Reform
December 14, 2011

Des Moines Register: New bi-partisan Iowa group calling for “smart” immigration reform
By Jason Clayworth
December 12, 2011

Des Moines Register: Group: See immigration as positive for economy
By Donnelle Eller and Jason Clayworth
December 12, 2011

Tags: immigration, Iowa Compact, Utah Compact

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Shaun Lumachi Memorial

Chaaron Pearson on Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 
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On Dec. 3 the chamber and government relations profession lost a great friend, Shaun Lumachi, who was fatally injured in a car crash in Florida.

ACCE News: Chamber Community Mourns the Death of Shaun Lumachi

Shaun was a frequent contributor to ACCE, most recently as a workshop speaker at the convention in Los Angeles and a webinar presenter in October. Here is a round-up of his memorable posts and articles from his history as an ACCE contributor.

Advocacy Advice from Shaun Lumachi
Stop Hugging Elected Officials, Start Holding them Accountable
What’s So Tough About the Times?
Make Your Newsletter Matter

On the Advocacy Field, Success Starts with Structure

A public celebration of Shaun’s life has been set for Dec. 17.

Tags: Advocacy, government relations, Lumachi, Shaun Lumachi

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What it Means When a Municipality Files Chapter 9 Bankruptcy

Chaaron Pearson on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 
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In the wake of Pennsylvania’s capital, Harrisburg, and Alabama’s largest county, Jefferson County, declaring bankruptcy, other communities may be looking to Chapter 9 bankruptcy to restructure debt.

Chapter 9 is the portion of the federal bankruptcy code that allows municipalities to seek court protection in the event of fiscal crisis. It is meant to ensure that basic government functions continue while policy makers restructure their debt. Only municipalities, not states, can file for Chapter 9. Municipal bankruptcies are very rare. Only about 620 municipalities have filed for bankruptcy since 1937 when Chapter 9 was added to the federal bankruptcy code. For more information on what happens after Chapter 9 is filed, how long Chapter 9 cases take and what changes a Chapter 9 filing brings to day-to-day life, visit’s article Municipal bankruptcy explained: What it means to file for Chapter 9.

Chambers Getting Involved

Eleven Pennsylvania chambers have joined together with other stakeholders to form Metro Chambers for Sustainable Cities. These chambers include Greater Reading, Harrisburg Regional, Lancaster, Greater Lehigh Valley, Greater Pittsburgh, Greater Wilkes-Barre, Monroeville Area, Williamsbport/Lycoming, York County, Allegheny Valley and Mon Valley Progress Council. The chambers are looking to make a difference in the future sustainability of their cities and to promote the success of their cities in Pennsylvania. The chambers decided to get involved because the business community regularly thinks regionally and long term, and chambers are skilled at advocacy on behalf of business. They believe: A Prosperous City = A Prosperous Economy = A Successful Business Climate

Other Sources:
Largest municipal bankruptcy ever prompts muted reaction elsewhere
Harrisburg bankruptcy sets up fight with state
Alabama’s Jefferson County enters biggest muni bankruptcy as crisis victim

Tags: Bankruptcy, Chamber Coalitions, Municipal Issues

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Talking Policy in Nashville

Chaaron Pearson on Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 
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Two weeks ago, a group of 21 metro cities government relations professionals gathered in Nashville for two days of roundtable discussion. You can read the official recap here, but here are photos from our trip to Nashville.

Policy, politics and chamber specifics dominated the discussion with a strict “what happens in Nashville stays in Nashville” code for conversation confidentiality.


“The gathering had the perfect mix of peer-to-peer discussions for those of us in the trenches every day running campaigns and crafting policies that support economic vitality, said George Allen, senior V.P., Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. “ We shared backstage secrets for victories and hard-earned lessons from disasters.  I left Nashville with new political tools and engagement strategies, not to mention some country music CD’s that simply blow me away. Thanks Nashville!”


“I appreciate the opportunity to meet and share ideas and insights with my Metro Chamber colleagues in a roundtable environment,” said Rob Bradham, V.P., public strategies, Chattanooga Chamber. “Our metro areas face many of the same challenges, and exchanging ideas with my counterparts allows me and my chamber to better serve our members and investors. The interaction allows each of us to sharpen our professional abilities and therefore strengthens our profession.”


“The ACCE Government Relations conference was an absolute home-run,” said Jay Barksdale, V.P., public policy, Dallas Regional Chamber. “I’ve been a public affairs professional for many years, but am relatively new to the chamber world. Spending time with colleagues from around the U.S. who face similar challenges and experience the same rewards of this job was the best professional development in which I have participated. I can’t wait to see this talented and motivated group again!”


For a detailed write up, visit the official ACCE news story.

Tags: government relations, Metro Cities, Nashville, Policy, Roundtable

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Note from the Chair - Using Anger to Push Issues

Chaaron Pearson on Monday, October 10, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 
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Government Relations Division Chairwoman Mary Graham, CCE, passed along the following note and link:

Someone sent me a link to this article in Harvard Business Review on chambers of commerce using anger to push forward issues. Seemed pretty relevant to all us Government Relations types. Thought I would share.

Anger as a Binding Force, in Chambers of Commerce and Elsewhere - Robert J. Bennett

Mary Graham, CCR, IOM, CCE
Senior Vice President
Business Advocacy
Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce

Tags: Advocacy

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Amazon Deals with California

Chaaron Pearson on Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 
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After years of refusing to collect sales tax from online purchases, has struck a deal in California. Retailers and state governments elsewhere are hoping for similar treatment.

This is a departure from’s previous stance on online tax collection. In response to other states “Amazon laws” requiring online tax collection, has taken New York to court and canceled its relationships with affiliates in Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, North Carolina and Rhode Island.

California looked to be the stage for the next Amazon show-down. Amazon organized a campaign to repeal the law at the ballot box. Wal-Mart and other big retailers lined-up in opposition of Amazon, arguing that online retailers get an unfair advantage over brick-and-mortar merchants by not collecting sales tax.

Surprisingly, Amazon backed down. The company struck a deal that will require online retailers to collect sales taxes in California starting in fiscal 2013.

Brick-and-mortar retailers view this as a game-changer. If Amazon will pay sales taxes in California, why not in other states? The optimism may be premature, but states would love to see additional sales tax revenue.

It’s difficult to assess where chambers stand on this issue. There are proponents on both sides, with many chambers declining to take a stance while they closely watch events unfold.

Read more: Amazon deal with California may set precedent for online tax collection
St. Petersburg Times: California to the rescue on sales taxes
The Journal Gazette: The retail Goliath retreats
Policy Clearinghouse Blog: Main Street Fairness Act

Tags: taxes

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