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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
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Many of our educators and elected officials alike feel that AIMS has become an outdated method for testing our K-12 student’s readiness for college and the workforce.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
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.