2014 SLC News and Updates
February 20, 2014
February 21, 2014
February 25, 2014
February 26, 2014
March 25, 2014
April 21, 2014
April 22, 2014
April 25, 2014
This complementary webinar is co-sponsored by the State and Local Legal Center, the International Municipal Lawyers Association, and the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Click here to register.
April 25, 2014
May 7, 2014
May 9, 2014
May 14, 2014
June 10-12, 2014 | Alberta, Canada
Energy & Environment Committee Delegation
A delegation of five SLC Energy and Environment Committee members participated in a study tour on oil sands development, June 10-12, 2014, in Edmonton and Fort McMurray, Alberta, coordinated by the SLC, the Albertan government, and the Offices of the Consulate General of Canada in Atlanta, Dallas and Miami. At approximately 176 billion barrels of proven reserves, the oil sands are one of the largest and most important energy resources in the world. The program highlighted the regulatory framework and cutting-edge technologies that are both in place and under development. The visit included tours of mining projects operated by Suncor Energy, oil sands reclamation sites, and a viewing of an in situ project.
The program also included discussions with Canadian government and industry officials, including presentations by the Pembina Institute and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Discussions revolved around Canadian-U.S. energy relations; economic development and job creation; environmental protection; and advances in energy technology. The objective of the study tour was to enable participants to broaden their awareness of the oil sands resource, its increasing contribution to North American energy security, and to see first-hand the steps being taken to meet the environmental challenges of this energy source.
Participants in the delegation included Representative Karla Drenner, Georgia; Representative Seneca Scott, Oklahoma; Senator Daniel Verdin III, South Carolina; Representative Alan Williams, Florida; and Representative Jack Williams, Alabama.
June 11, 2014
June 19, 2014
June 20, 2014
June 23, 2014
June 25, 2014
July 8, 2014
July 18, 2014
July 22, 2014
September 10, 2014
September 12, 2014
EPA has invited comment on a number of issues that may have legal implications for states. Given the compliance obligations this rule will create for states, the National Governors Association has worked with the SLLC to develop a presentation that will provide states with an opportunity to explore topics that will most directly affect them. Some of these topics will be addressed in the webinar and include:
- State-level considerations for regional compliance and a legal roadmap for how states could join together to develop a regional consortium to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Whether states can legally adopt multiple approaches to reducing carbon emissions, including approaches that are rate based, mass based, market based, or some combination of those three.
- The authority for states to implement approaches outside of reductions at individual power plants (regardless of the legal interpretation at the federal level), or whether states need internal authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through other measures like regional agreements or the implementation of energy efficiency measures through 111(d).
- The ability of states to adjust the specific percentage by which they must reduce their carbon emissions by 2030.
The webinar can be accessed by clicking here. Prior to the meeting time, you may wish to set up Lync audio and video to ensure your computer program is compatible.
September 12, 2014
September 17, 2014
Topics of discussion included the Condition of the Nation’s Infrastructure & Resources for Policymakers; States and the Future of Transportation Funding; The Business Community & Infrastructure Investment; Perspectives on the Federal Role in Transportation; Future of the Federal-State-Local Partnerships on Transportation; and Public-Private Partnerships: The Virginia & Maryland Experiences. In addition, legislators attending the Transportation Academy toured several Northern Virginia transportation megaprojects - hosted by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) – that included briefings on Virginia’s approach to public-private partnerships.
September 23, 2014 | Little Rock, Arkansas
Legislative Staff Exchange
The SLC arranged for staff members of the West Virginia Legislative Services Division focusing on information technology (IT) operations to convene in Little Rock, Arkansas, and receive briefings from staff at the Arkansas House of Representatives on video-streaming legislative and committee sessions. The LSEP was hosted by Gabe Holmstrom, chief of staff of the Speaker of the House; Buddy Johnson, House parliamentarian; Matt Johnson, production assistant; and Cecillea Pond-Mayo, communications officer.
September 24-26, 2014
Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee Technical Tour
A delegation of state transportation leaders from seven SLC member states, including Senator Bill Hightower, Alabama (member, Senate Transportation Committee); Representative George Moraitis, Florida (vice chair, House Finance and Tax Subcommittee); Senator Steve Gooch, Georgia (chair, Senate Transportation Committee); Representative Walt Leger, Louisiana (Speaker Pro Tem and member, House Transportation Committee); Senator Gary Stanislawski, Oklahoma (chair, Senate Transportation Committee); Representative Larry Phillips, Texas (chair, House Transportation Committee); and Senator David Marsden, Virginia (member, Senate Transportation Committee), recently traveled to Panama for high level briefings on the Panama Canal expansion project. The delegation agenda was designed to reinforce the need for Southern ports to continue essential infrastructure enhancements to accommodate the significantly larger vessels and expanded cargo volumes expected to arrive after the completion of the Panama Canal expansion. This was the third consecutive year that an SLC legislative delegation had travelled to Panama for briefings on the Canal expansion project.
For more than a decade, the SLC has focused on the critical role played by Southern ports, not only in the economic calculations of the Southern region but also the nation as a whole. The decision by the government of Panama to proceed with the $5.25 billion expansion project has been touted as one of the most transformative global transportation projects currently in progress. Upon completion in 2015/2016, the Panama Canal will facilitate an even greater flow of trade between Asia and the Americas and substantially impact the volume of trade reaching Gulf and Atlantic Coast ports in the United States. A number of SLC states are expected to be impacted directly by the increase in cargo and vessel traffic in the aftermath of the Panama Canal expansion. In 2013, total U.S. exports to Panama amounted to $10.6 billion; in the first six months of 2014, U.S. exports to Panama amounted to $5.2 billion.
The delegation’s scheduled meetings began with a series of briefings and a tour of the Panama Canal Authority. At the Miraflores Center, the delegation received a detailed briefing from Mr. Luis Ferreira, Chief Engineer at the Panama Canal Authority on the expansion effort and its critical importance in the effective and efficient transfer of cargo between Asia and the Americas. Officials with the Panama Canal Authority elaborated on the role of the Canal’s expansion in the context of surging global trade and the contemporary shipping industry trend of deploying substantially larger vessels to take advantage of economies of scale. Also included on the technical tour was a visit to and further briefings on the operation of the control tower of the current locks. The SLC legislators then traveled to the site of the new Pacific locks for additional briefings on security procedures, equipment and finally, a drive through the Pacific lock, the journey that container and other seagoing vessels will be taking upon the project’s completion.
The SLC delegation then visited the U.S. Embassy in Panama for a briefing on U.S. – Panama political, economic and social linkages, which included reference to the impact of the expansion of the Panama Canal and the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Panama that was signed into law in October 2011. The briefing included an extended discussion with the U.S. Ambassador to Panama, Mr. Jonathan D. Farrar. Ms. Mimi Lu, Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Panama also participated in this briefing. Finally, the delegation visited the American Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Panama (AmCham Panama) for briefings and dialogue on the potential for expanding the economic and financial relationships between Panama and corporate and business interests in the SLC states. Providing details on these topics to the SLC delegation were Mr. C.E. Maurice Belanger, Executive Director, AmCham Panama, Ms. Pilar V. Cerón, Trade and Investment Director, AmCham Panama and Mr. Robert St. John and Ms. Amanda Barraza de Wong, the 2014 Secretary and Director of AmCham Panama, respectively.
September 25, 2014
September 30, 2014
October 14, 2014
October 20, 2014
October 21-23, 2014 | Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Legislative Staff Exchange
Through an SLC LSEP, Caroline Dennis, director of legislative operations for the Oklahoma Senate, and Marcia Goff, research director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, hosted North Carolina legislative staff specializing in the areas of energy and environment. The North Carolina staff traveled to Oklahoma City to meet with legislative staff of the House and Senate to discuss legislation and best practices related to natural gas legislation. In addition to meeting with Oklahoma legislative staff, the North Carolina delegation met with representatives from the oil and gas industry and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the regulatory body that oversees oil and gas production.
October 22, 2014
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.
November 6, 2014 | Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The Southern Office, the Southern Legislative Conference, organized, in conjunction with the Louisiana House Legislative Services, the fall SouthTrain program.
Scott Raecker, former member of the Iowa House of Representatives and current executive director of Character Counts In Iowa, as well as chairman and CEO of the Josephson Institute, was the featured presenter for the training in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Mr. Raecker’s presentation to the staff of the Louisiana House Legislative Services focused on:
- • Culture Shaping and Building Connections
- • The Challenges of Non-partisan Staff Serving a Partisan Legislature
- • Understanding the Legislator’s Perspective
- • 20 Questions Legislative Staff Always Wanted to Ask, But Didn’t
November 13, 2014 | Atlanta, Georgia
Legislative Staff Exchange
Members of the House Fiscal Division of the Louisiana House of Representatives met with staff in the House Budget and Research Office (HRBO) of the Georgia House of Representatives in Atlanta, Georgia, to discuss processes and procedures related to formulating the state budget. The LSEP, which also was attended by Representative Terry England, Chair of the Georgia House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, was coordinated by Martha Wigton, director of HRBO. The legislative staff covered myriad topics including recent tax initiatives in Georgia, pension plans, provider fees, Medicaid expansion and the HOPE Scholarship.
November 17-18, 2014 | San Antonio, Texas
Human Services & Public Safety Committee Technical Tour
A delegation of legislators, whose interests lie in criminal justice and mental health policy, from five Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) member states, travelled to San Antonio, Texas, November 17-18, 2014, for briefings on the Center for Health Care Services’ (CHCS) Restoration Center jail diversion program and the Haven for Hope homeless center. Delegates met with facility officials and representatives to learn about the innovative approach San Antonio’s Bexar County has employed to address the persistent problems of prison overcrowding and mental illness in prisoners. Since its inception in 2003, the CHCS jail diversion program has become a national model in crisis intervention and mental health treatment. In addition to screening and diverting 1,400 people monthly from jail or hospital emergency rooms, the streamlined program has saved more than $50 million in the last five years.
To learn more about the collaboration’s history, services provided, measurable successes, and future growth opportunities, delegates received high-level briefings from Mr. Leon Evans, CEO, Center for Health Care Services; Representative José Menéndez, Texas House of Representatives; Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau; Judge Ernie Glenn, Bexar County Felony Drug Court; Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson; Gilbert Gonzalez, Bexar County Mental Health Officer; Christi Garfield, Vice President of Restoration Services; Brittany Berry, Clinic Administrator, Crisis Center; and Ron Stringfellow, Veteran Administrator, Center for Health Care Services.
Officers from the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office and the San Antonio Police Department spoke to delegates about the 40-hour Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training required for all Bexar County law enforcement officers and the special CIT mental health units within each agency. Through specialized training, officers learn how to identify persons suffering mental health crises and de-escalate potentially dangerous situations. The training also educates officers about the resources available to mentally ill residents and other resources available to those residents’ families.
Delegates were given a tour of The Restoration Center’s crisis intervention, substance abuse, and residential detoxification facilities by Ms. Jennifer See, Director of Quality and Risk Management. Mr. Scott Ackerson, Vice President for Strategic Relationships at the Haven for Hope and Community Transformation Services at the Center for Health Care Services, provided delegates a tour of the Haven for Hope campus. During the tour, delegates visited Prospects Courtyard, which provides food, shelter, and psychiatric and medical services to the community’s homeless population 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Courtyard also serves as an intermediate resource for persons moving from The Restoration Center to the Haven for Hope program.
Participants in the delegation included Representative Mike Holmes, Alabama; Representative Valarie Hodges, Louisiana; Senator Hob Bryan Mississippi; Senator Doug Overbey, Tennessee; and Senator Janet Howell, Virginia.
November 19, 2014
December 2, 2014
December 8-10, 2014
Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee Delegation
A delegation of Southern state legislative leaders recently traveled to Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for high-level briefings on the state’s multimodal transportation strategies. The agenda was designed to provide first-hand information to legislators from states belonging to The Council of State Governments’ (CSG) Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), about Florida’s efforts to enhance its multimodal capacities as a mechanism to promote international and domestic trade. Representative Yonts remarked that this SLC-sponsored visit reinforced the “need for continued investments in Kentucky’s airports, ports, rail and highways to ensure that Kentucky remains competitive in the global economy.”
The technical tour and briefings, which the SLC’s Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs Committee organized with the assistance of the Florida Department of Transportation, reflected this SLC Committee’s focus in recent years: the importance for Southern states to continuing developing strong multimodal platforms. Given that Florida has one of the most comprehensive, robust multimodal strategies in the country, legislators from other SLC states were eager to learn more about financing and operating critical multimodal assets with an eye toward possibly enacting similar projects in their own states.
Briefings included presentations by Dr. Emilio González, director, Miami-Dade Aviation Department at Miami International Airport (MIA), the top-ranking U.S. airport for international freight; and a tour of the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC), a complex that included the airport’s car rental center, MIA connecting people-mover, MetroRail, Tri-Rail, Amtrak, bus transit, and road connections to the regional expressway system. The delegation also visited the LAN Air Cargo Facility, a facility that receives nearly 80 percent of the cut flowers imported into the United States. The delegation than travelled to PortMiami for briefings by officials, including Mr. Kevin Lynskey, deputy director, PortMiami, on the Port’s cruise terminals and cargo handling facilities. Briefings and a visit to the docks for details on the port’s preparations for the expansion of the Panama Canal, including the acquisition of post-Panamax Cranes and the construction, through a public private partnership, of the $1.2 billion PortMiami tunnel was included.
Additional site visits and briefings followed in Fort Lauderdale and a drive-through the I-595 Express Managed Lanes, the three tolled, reversible express lanes that opened in March 2014. Officials indicated that the lanes had eased congestion in the area considerably. The delegation then traveled to the Port Everglades Intermodal Container Transfer Facility, the 42.5-acre, near-dock intermodal container transfer facility that moves international and domestic containers between ship (Port Everglades) and rail (Florida East Coast Railway), for a briefing and a tour led by Mr. William Greenough, project manager, Florida East Coast Railway. Representative George Moraitis, Florida, accompanied the SLC delegation on this segment of the visit. The tour and briefings continued with Mr. Steve Cernak, director and Mr. Glenn Wiltshire, deputy director at Port Everglades providing details on Port Everglade’s cargo, cruise and petroleum operations. The final destination on the agenda was the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport for a briefing by Mr. Steve Wiesner, assistant director for Airport Development and a drive to the nearly $810 million runway extension project.
December 12, 2014
December 17, 2014
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.