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Advocacy Advantage

A bi-weekly newsletter from Government Affairs Director, Mike Sistak

Advocacy Advantage 8/2/2013

August 2, 2013

Welcome to a new level of advocacy

Hello, and welcome to the all new edition of the Flagstaff Chamber’sadvocacy newsletter, from the desk of the Government Affairs Director, me, Mike Sistak. This newsletter will be a bi-weekly publication keeping Chamber members and the Flagstaff community-at-large informed of the pro-business lobbying efforts here in the pines, down in the Valley, and across the country at our nation’s Capital.

  I would like to extend a sincere thank you to Flagstaff for welcoming me back to my home state, and I extend an offer to our members to reach out to me with any tips, suggestions, or concerns about local, state, and federal issues you may have. I can be reached at the office at 928-774-4505, or by e-mail at msistak@flagstaffchamber.com.

In This Issue
Happening in Flagstaff
At the Corner of Aspen and Humphreys
Taking Action on Forest Health

Happening in Flagstaff

Please join the Flagstaff Chamber for lunch in our next Congressional Updates series with

Senator Jeff Flake

 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Little America Hotel, Ballroom C

11:00 AM – Registration

11:30 AM – Program & Luncheon begins

$35 – Chamber Member

$50 – Non-members

$350 – Corporate Table Host (10 tickets)

 Reserve your seat today online

http://bit.ly/1c3CyYH

 Thank you to our luncheon sponsor for making this event possible:

  

At the Corner of Aspen and HumphreysIn mid-July, the Flagstaff city council wrapped up their session until September, but considered items of great importance to the Flagstaff Chamber before they did.

The Flagstaff Chamber staff was in attendance at the weekly meeting to urge council to support the 2014 Dew Downtown event, consider an alternative to the 2012 international energy code, and support local businesses through a local preference point system for city contracts.

The Dew Downtown event, scheduled for next February, is a chance to showcase the splendors of our city by hosting a Snowboarding event in the center of town which is a very unique winter sports attraction.  Coupled with Winterfest Flagstaff, Dew Downtown helps generate significant revenue for our restaurants, stores, and hotels through bringing visitors from across the West to our community. Council approved the plan to close sections of San Francisco Street for the event and accompanying festival. The Chamber will be working closely with the city to build on the success of the 2013 event.

The council also decided to vote against the 2012 version of the international energy code, and instead adopted the 2009 version as a compromise. The 2012 version would have added up to $4,300 to the cost of building a new home in Flagstaff, a proposition that the Chamber could not justify when we already sit at 144% of the national average for housing costs making it very difficult for first time homebuyers or those recently out of foreclosure to achieve their dream of home ownership. We support the 2009 version, however, as it will reinforce the Chamber and City’s commitment to sustainability without adding so many burdensome costs to building a home here.

The Chamber has been advocating for several years now for a local preference in awarding city contracts for construction and professional services. We moved one step closer to that goal being realized as the city council considered language that would stress that every effort be made by city staff to award contracts locally.  More work is ahead for the Chamber to represent local service professionals and contractors when we advocate for specific criteria that would further benefit our businesses as the assessment of this proposal is considered by the city.

 

Taking Action on Forest Health in Arizona

In July, Senator Flake introduced legislative bill S. 1300, the Stewardship Contracting Reauthorization Act of 2013. The Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce stands in full support of this bill.

The purpose of S. 1300 is to give the United States Forest Service (USFS) a vital tool in preventing wildfires that have severely devastated our state in recent months and years. Currently, the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) here in Northern Arizona is a prime example of forest stewardship contracting that is used by the USFS to help thin overgrown forest areas and clear out the heavy undergrowth of vegetation and dead foliage that cause fires to spread more quickly.

The current authority that the USFS operates under to enter into stewardship contracts expires at the end of the current federal fiscal year, September 30, 2013. The Forest Service can only continue to do so by an act of Congress. Currently, this legislation has strong bi-partisan support among western senators. Our own Senator John McCain has joined with Senators Michael Crapo and James Risch (Idaho), Dean Heller (Nevada), and Max Baucus (Montana) to help shepherd the bill to passage.

S. 1300 must first be considered by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining, of which Senator Flake is a member. It would then advance to the full Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, before debate and consideration by the full Senate.

The citizens of Flagstaff are already heavily invested in forest health. In last fall’s elections, voters overwhelming passed a $10 million bond to help thin forests in our immediate area, in conjunction with the current 4FRI project. The Flagstaff Chamber believes that our community should reaffirm its commitment to forest health by supporting Senator Flake’s bill. That is why last week the Chamber, in partnership with Mayor Nabours, Flagstaff Forty, and the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona, sent a letter of support to Senators Joe Manchin (West Virginia) and John Barrasso (Wyoming), the chairman and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining, urging their support for Senator Flake’s bill.

Read our full letter here.

The Flagstaff Chamber will continue to monitor the progress of S. 1300 and offer unyielding support to Senator Flake until the bill is passed by the full Congress and signed by President Obama.  

Local Issues we’re Watching

  • Zoning Code Amendment
  • Flagstaff Signage
  • Business Improvement District – Downtown Flagstaff
  • Leakage of Local Sales for Car Dealers
  • Local Restaurant Survey
  • Electrical Market Deregulation
What we’re reading (besides the new political exposé This Town)McCain pushing for surplus Pentagon airplanes to fight wildfires – Phoenix Business Journal 

 Farmers need immigration reform – Arizona Republic  

 Median price home in Flagstaff hits $390k -Arizona Daily Sun  

Obama seeks second term jolt with economic speech – Reuters 

Bill limiting EPA powers draws veto threat -The Hill 

Health-care law is tied to new caps on work hours for part-timers – The Washington Post 

TriviaWhat is the only city in Arizona to be named for a U.S. President?

Answer to last issue’s trivia: Mark McGwire

Advocacy Advantage 4/26

This is the third issue of our new Advocacy Advantage newsletter! If you are interested in receiving future mailings pertaining to the Chamber’s serious Advocacy work on your behalf, please

Join THIS Mailing List!

(this mailing list is separate from the regular Chamber eNews)

April 26, 2013

Welcome to a new level of advocacy

 

Hello, and welcome to the all new edition of the Flagstaff Chamber’s advocacy newsletter, from the desk of the new Government Affairs Director, me, Mike Sistak. This newsletter will be a bi-weekly publication keeping Chamber members and the Flagstaff community-at-large informed of the pro-business lobbying efforts here in the pines, down in the Valley, and across the country at our nation’s Capital.

  I would like to extend a sincere thank you to Flagstaff for welcoming me back to my home state, and I extend an offer to our members to reach out to me with any tips, suggestions, or concerns about local, state, and federal issues you may have. I can be reached at the office at 928-774-4505, or by e-mail at msistak@flagstaffchamber.com.

In This Issue
Spent in Flagstaff
Happening in Flagstaff
In Case You Missed It
Happening in Flagstaff
Take Action

What’s spent in Flagstaff, stay’s in Flagstaff!

During a recent Flagstaff City Council work session, the Chamber testified about the need to have a “value added” provision as a part of our city’s procurement manual, currently being developed by City staff.

What is ‘value added’?

When the city ever needs to have a public project built (roads, parks, buildings, etc.), it puts out a “Request for Statement of Qualifications” (RSOQ). Essentially, this is asking for professional contractors and service providers – such as architects, engineers and surveyors- to submit a proposal about what would make their company the best to do the requested job.

When the recession hit in 2008 and cities all throughout the country reigned in the amount of money they spent on public projects, contractors and service providers felt the squeeze on a very dependable source of income for their companies. As a result, the largest of these companies began seeking contracts outside of their normal area of operations, and often won them because they could provide the extensive and somewhat “flashy” proposals and perhaps low pricing to add a completed job to their portfolio at the expense of higher paying projects elsewhere.

Should it really matter who we award a city contract to?

Well, consider where that money goes once it is paid by the city to the winner of the contract. For example, let’s say the city of Flagstaff decides it wants to build a new fire station and two companies bid for the proposal, one from Flagstaff and one from Denver. The Flagstaff company says it can build the fire station for $1,005,000. The company from Denver says it can complete the project for $1,000,000. Naturally, you would want to go with the lowest bidder and choose Denver. The problem is that very little of that money will stay in Flagstaff, and instead contributes to the economy of Denver.

By choosing a local company, the $1,005,000 that the city spent will be recycled several times over. Let’s say the Flagstaff company employs 50 people. Those 50 people all live in the Flagstaff area, so they take their paychecks, made possible by the city contract, and spend it on goods and services for their personal lives, provided by other local companies such as our grocers, medical providers, or our restaurants. The company itself will likely have contracts with local manufacturers (such as cement mixers for the fire station’s foundation) and pay them for their services. All of the money will reverberate throughout the community and help provide for a stable economy and job retention.

Govt. Affairs Director Mike Sistake Testifying to City Council on “Value Added” 

 The alternative is to pay the company from Denver to do the job and watch those funds walk away from Flagstaff. The Flagstaff Chamber mission is to create a strong local business climate and a vibrant economy. That’s why we have trademarked Buy, Dine, Stay Flagstaff and constantly discuss the reasons why buying locally-for products and services of any kind-is essential to community growth.

Another benefit to awarding local companies is that it prevents a draining of valuable talent from our city. If an engineer cannot earn a livable wage in Flagstaff they will understandably move to a city that they could. If our STEM graduates at NAU enter the workforce only to find there is nothing for them in Flagstaff, they will take the first-rate education they received and let another company in another city benefit from it. As America’s first STEM community, we should be doing all we can to generate a robust economy that will provide a good job for those students who took the time to focus on such an education.

By placing a value added section in the Flagstaff procurement manual we would be giving our local businesses a leg up in the competition for city contracts. This section would award points to a company bidding for a contract if they can show such things as knowledge of the Flagstaff region, employment of local residents, and have their offices headquartered in Flagstaff or the county.

But doesn’t a local preference degrade the competitive process for city contracts?

Not really. There might be an RSOQ put out that no local business can compete for or perhaps an outside company can provide the service at a significantly lower price. A local preference doesn’t exclude others from competing, and it doesn’t guarantee an award to a local business, it only provides a leg up.

By hiring a local business as often as possible, we create a robust economic climate that will benefit all of Flagstaff.

Happening in Flagstaff

The Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Northern Arizona Healthcare recently hosted members of the state legislature at Flagstaff Medical Center for a roundtable discussion of Governor Brewer’s plan for the expansion of AHCCCS, the state’s Medicaid system, a Chamber-endorsed plan.

In attendance were Senator Chester Crandell, Representative Bob Thorpe, and Representative Jamescita Peshlakai.

The meeting highlighted that the proposal is going to be heavily debated and that there are various opinions about how to proceed. The Flagstaff Chamber will continue to advocate for a solution to the high cost of uncompensated care and providing healthcare coverage to the most vulnerable of Arizona’s citizens.

In Case You Missed It

The U.S. Senate’s so-called “Gang of Eight” introduced their legislation for comprehensive immigration reform. Much of the credit for this work goes to our own senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, who even brought some of their fellow senators to Arizona for a border tour to learn firsthand just what our state has to manage on our southern border.

This legislation will be an important first step in developing a realistic solution for dealing with the estimated 11 million individuals who are not legally living in the country. It also addresses the serious issue of securing our borders, as well as reforms our visa program for needed high tech and low-skilled workers.

The Flagstaff Chamber applauds our senators for their work, and we offer our full support for passage of this needed legislation.

What we’re watching

House Bill 2076 – A Flagstaff Chamber endorsed legislative proposal that would ease the transition of military service members back into the civilian workforce. Passed the state Senate on April 9th on a unanimous vote of 30-0. Governor Brewer signed the bill into law on April 11th.

Zoning Map Amendments -the Flagstaff City Council recently hosted a roundtable with key community leaders to discuss potential changes to the city zoning code. At the table, representing business interests was Flagstaff Chamber President and CEO, Julie Pastrick. Among the amendments being discussed is a proposal that would make it easier for businesses to more easily obtain commercial re-zoning of property which would help grow our community in a smart, responsible manner.

Flagstaff Regional Plan 2030 – Don’t forget to download your copy of the draft plan, and take the citizen’s survey at www.flagstaffmatters.com

 

Take Action!

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently launched a new website called The American Opportunity which will keep you up to date on everything the Chamber is doing at the national level to advance comprehensive immigration reform.

Check out the website and sign the petition to Congress telling them the time to act is now!

What we’re reading (besides the Regional Plan)

Five ways immigration reform will help low wage workers – Washington Post

Federal income tax quietly turns 100 – Arizona Republic

 

Groups try to sell Arizona to tourists – Arizona Daily Sun

 

Arizona Legislature closing in on Medicaid vote – Arizona Capitol Times

Feds say no to funding a leaner Arizona Medicaid – AZCentral.com

Trivia

Who was at the plate in the May 2000 game during which the D-backs turned their first triple play in franchise history?

Answer to last issue’s trivia: Barnaul, Russia

 

Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce | 101 W. Route 66 | Flagstaff | AZ | 86001

 

Advocacy Advantage Issue 2



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You may unsubscribe if you no longer wish to receive our emails.

This is the second issue of our new Advocacy Advantage newsletter! If you are interested in receiving future mailings pertaining to the Chamber’s serious Advocacy work on your behalf, please
Join THIS Mailing List!

(this mailing list is separate from the regular Chamber eNews)

March 29, 2013

Welcome to a new level of advocacy

Hello, and welcome to the all new edition of the Flagstaff Chamber’s advocacy newsletter, from the desk of the new Government Affairs Director, me, Mike Sistak. This newsletter will be a bi-weekly publication keeping Chamber members and the Flagstaff community-at-large informed of the pro-business lobbying efforts here in the pines, down in the Valley, and across the country at our nation’s Capital.

  I would like to extend a sincere thank you to Flagstaff for welcoming me back to my home state, and I extend an offer to our members to reach out to me with any tips, suggestions, or concerns about local, state, and federal issues you may have. I can be reached at the office at 928-774-4505, or by e-mail at msistak@flagstaffchamber.com.

 

In This Issue
Two Thumbs Up
Take Action
Gang of Eight

Two thumbs up

In the last issue of Advocacy Advantage, I told you about three legislative items in Phoenix that we were tracking as they each had the value of being good for business and good for our community. Those three items were HB 2147, Unemployment Benefits; HB 2076, Separating Service Members; and HB 2657 Transaction Privilege Tax Changes.

 

At the March 26th meeting of the Flagstaff Chamber’s board of directors, these three items were discussed at length, and the board voted to endorse each item.

 

That status of the three bills are as follows -

 

HB 2147: Passed the House by a vote of 34-24, and the Senate by a vote of 17-12. Transmitted to the Governor, and signed into law on March 28th. The measure will go into effect 90 days after the end of the current legislative session.

 

HB 2076: Passed the House by a vote of 54-0, and the Senate Transportation and Commerce committee’s each by a vote of 6-0.

 

HB 2657: In committee. The board endorsed this legislation with the caveat that the amendment to allow municipalities to continue a construction tax be a part of the final version of the bill.

 

The board also discussed HB2425, a measure that would repeal the use of the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (“AIMS”) Test in our schools. Many of our educators and elected officials alike feel that AIMS has become an outdated method for testing our K-12 student’s readiness for college and the workforce. While there has been much debate about what new steps to take to prepare Arizona’s young citizens for the next chapter in their lives, the consensus is the AIMS needs to go. The board voted to endorse this legislation.

 

Tax Day with the Treasurer

 

On Monday, April 15th, Tax Day, State Treasurer Doug Ducey will be visiting the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce membership. The event will take place at 2:30 PM. More details to come.

 

 

 

What we’re watching (other than March Madness)

Flagstaff Regional Plan 2030

On March 28th, the City of Flagstaff released the public draft of its decennial development plan, as required by state law. This plan addresses how the city will operate over the next several years when it comes to community and economic development, as well as environmental sustainment. The Chamber of Commerce applauds city staff and the volunteer commission for their tireless work in developing this plan, but will also study the proposal to make sure that no provision causes an unnecessary burden on our businesses. Over the coming months we will be working with the City Council and their staff to give input before the plan is formally adopted by the council and sent to the voters.

 

I encourage you to look through the plan for yourself, and take the city survey to give your own input. Visit the website at www.flagstaffmatters.com 

 

     


Take Action!

 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently launched a new website called The American Opportunity which will keep you up to date on everything the Chamber is doing at the national level to advance comprehensive immigration reform.

 

Check out the website and sign the petition to Congress telling them the time to act is now!

 

 


The Flagstaff Chamber salutes the Gang of Eight

Optimism High for Federal Immigration Reform

 

Amidst the divisiveness of our political landscape we have seen the emergence of the so-called “Gang of Eight.” Eight Senators, four Republican, four Democrat, have come together, despite calls of betrayal from the grassroots of their own parties, to forge a negotiation to fix our broken immigration system. Comprehensive immigration reform is what the media calls it. A Welcome Sign, posted above a sturdy gate is what we call it at the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce.

 

At the center of the group are our own two United States Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, without whom this legislative action might never have been lifted off the ground. The Flagstaff Chamber commends their leadership, and their willingness to grab onto the “third rail” that this issue has become in recent years.

 

While there are many issues that need to be dealt with by our federal government, the time to address and reform immigration is now.

 

The Flagstaff Chamber supports legislation that is balanced. Such reforms should include strengthening our border security while pursuing initiatives that will address our current and future economic needs for high and low skilled workers with a work visa program. This legislation should also create a workable, reliable national employee verification system that will free our business owners from the burden of worrying about who they hire, and allow them to focus on what they do best: create jobs, and provide goods and services that improve the lives of all Americans.

 

The Flagstaff Chamber supports legislation that is also realistic. It is estimated that there are over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, with 7-8 million employed in our workforce. That large number keeps many areas of our economy humming. Pursuing 11 million people through our law enforcement agencies is not economically feasible. Expecting 11 million people to self-deport is not rational. Forcefully removing 11 million people is not just, nor is it American. A pathway to legal status for this population that comes with strict conditions such as paying back-taxes and learning English is appropriate, as well as necessary because it would allow our law enforcement officials to pursue the true criminals hiding amongst decent people, thereby strengthening our domestic security.  

 

Here in Flagstaff, we are a STEM-focused community. If these reforms come to pass, it would build up our research-minded culture by helping to attract the best and brightest the world has to offer, and teaming them with our superior institutions of higher education.

 

The appetite for reform among Arizonans has never been greater. A recent survey commissioned by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce found that 72% of registered voters in the state favor the comprehensive plan being pursued by the Gang of Eight. This includes 74% of Republicans, 75% of Independents, and 69% of Democrats. Those numbers are astounding. Our country is very much divided right now over its politics, but the fact that that many people can all come to an agreement on a single issue means that the Gang of Eight is doing something right.

 

These reforms are necessary and just, and the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce stands behind it 100%. We have advocated for it through several letters to, and countless hours of meetings in Washington, DC with, our elected officials.

 

The time to fix our broken system, and make America the beacon of hope and freedom for the world, is now. We may not see for a long time the caliber of character and leadership demonstrated by Senators McCain and Flake. We may never see again the composition that makes up the Gang of Eight that has brought all the competing interests and opinions to the table to develop a workable solution.

 

 

What we’re reading (besides the Regional Plan)

 

Immigration in spotlight as Senators tour Arizona – The New York Times 

 

New Arizona student assessment to replace AIMS – The Arizona Republic 

 

Brewer sales tax overhaul moving in Senate – Arizona Capitol Times 

 

 

 

Trivia

The Dynamo are the professional football club for which sister city of Flagstaff?

 

Answer to last issue’s trivia: Castilian Spain, Burgundian Spain, Mexico, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America

 

This email was sent to mbeaty@flagstaffchamber.com by jpastrick@flagstaffchamber.com |  

Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce | 101 W. Route 66 | Flagstaff | AZ | 86001