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Although the country as a whole has shifted away from agricultural pursuits, the South remains a largely agrarian region. As the only source of uniform and comprehensive agriculture data for every state and county in the nation, the Census provides the most detailed picture of U.S. farms and the people who operate them. For this reason, the Census remains an important resource for SLC states, and is used by a wide range of stakeholders for various reasons. For example, agribusiness companies use the data to make decisions about where to market their products, while lenders and insurance companies use this information in risk management calculations.
This Regional Resource analyzes the economic contributions agriculture makes to our national and regional economies and highlights some of the commodities for which the 15 SLC member states make the largest contributions. Finally, the source of who is providing the labor that makes agriculture possible is examined.
Energy policies in Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) member states are undergoing substantial changes as installations of distributed generation systems, such as rooftop solar panels and other small-scale renewable energy technologies, continue to expand. This expansion has been encouraged by state and federal tax credits, which have made renewable energy technology, especially solar energy technology, increasingly affordable. Further encouraging the installation of distributed generation technologies is the availability of net metering programs.
Increases in the use of distributed generation systems by consumers have led to an increase in demand for utilities to offer net metering. Of the 15 states represented by the SLC, 11 have statewide net metering policies, while Texas has a voluntary policy. This SLC Regional Resource reviews the concept of net metering and analyzes the status and nature of net metering legislation and trends in SLC member states.
A delegation of state legislative leaders from five Southern states, including Senate President Robert Stivers, Kentucky (2014/2015 SLC Chair-Elect); Senator Bill Sample, Arkansas; Senator Ron Richard, Missouri; Representative Brent Yonts, Kentucky (2014/2015 SLC Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs Committee Vice Chair); and Representative Samuel Rivers, Jr., South Carolina, recently traveled to Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for high-level briefings on the state’s impressive multimodal transportation strategies. The agenda was designed to provide first-hand information to legislators from SLC member states about Florida’s efforts to enhance its multimodal capacities as a mechanism to promote international and domestic trade. Further details are available here.
The Southern Legislative Conference will host a complimentary webinar addressing recent developments in public-private partnerships (P3s) across SLC member states at 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. EST, Tuesday, December 16, 2014. In an effort to develop alternate funding sources to implement critical transportation and infrastructure projects, states across the country increasingly are looking to P3s as an important strategy. P3s are contractual agreements between a public agency and a private entity facilitating a more robust private sector role, including in the design, construction, finance, long-term operation and traffic revenue of these transportation and infrastructure projects. With encouragement from the federal government, three dozen states have enacted authorization frameworks for P3s. SLC states have been particularly active in pursuing the P3 format for a number of years. This webinar will provide the latest perspectives and approaches from three SLC states—Florida, Texas and Virginia.
On November 14, 2014, a delegation of SLC members from Alabama and South Carolina joined the Southern States Energy Board on a tour of two nuclear energy facilities under construction at the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant near Waynesboro, Georgia. Vogtle units 3 and 4 are scheduled to begin commercial operation in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The construction of these units is the largest job-producing project in Georgia, employing approximately 5,000 people during peak construction and creating 800 permanent jobs when the facility begins operating. Once complete, they will produce enough energy to power 500,000 Georgia homes and businesses.
The World Health Organization reports that the current outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD), which is believed to have begun in March 2014 in West Africa, is the largest and most complex outbreak of the virus since its discovery in 1976. It was not until August 2014, when two American missionaries were flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta after contracting the disease in Africa, that most Americans became aware of the outbreak. Nearly two months later, the first diagnosis of Ebola was reported in the United States.
This SLC Issue Alert provides a brief account of some of the efforts SLC states have taken in reaction to the Ebola virus disease, as of October 20, 2014. As governors across the nation continue to meet with health officials in their states, the policies and efforts to combat this disease, for which there is no proven treatment, undoubtedly will continue to evolve.
The Southern Legislative Conference will host a complimentary webinar addressing waste storage and water contamination at 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. EDT, Thursday, October 30, 2014. In SLC member states, the coal and chemical industries are essential to state economies. Given the importance of these industries to the region for both economic development and employment opportunities, legislators often are faced with balancing business interests with the need for environmental protection and conservation. Hazardous spills in two SLC states—West Virginia and North Carolina—have focused attention on this careful balance. This webinar will examine the spills in those three states and subsequent legislative action to offer lessons learned for other states.
General Assembly leadership, mayors and business leaders of Kentucky gathered today to officially announce Lexington as the host of the 70th Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference, convening July 16-20, 2016. The SLC Annual Meeting offers Southern legislators an opportunity to meet head-on the challenges facing the region by sharing information, experience and understanding across state lines. As current chair elect of the SLC, Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers will guide the SLC the deliberations of the 70th Annual Meeting and the Conference. House Speaker Greg Stumbo also announced his commitment to serving as co-chair of the Annual Meeting Planning Committee.