Speaker Mike Hubbard
SLC Chair 2012-2013
It is an honor to serve not only as the chair of the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) for 2012-2013 but also as a co-host of the 67th Annual SLC Meeting in Mobile, Alabama, to be held on July 27 – 31, 2013. For many reasons, I believe the coming year will provide the 15 state legislatures in our conference with a number of opportunities to demonstrate the resiliency and resourcefulness of our region, and I am confident that the SLC will be vital to our success.
As the economy continues to show signs of a slow recovery, many of our citizens remain in need. With Congress often unable to act, it falls to the states to lead the way back to prosperity. The moment for state and regional action has come, but it cannot be seized without pooling the collective wisdom and experience of our deliberative bodies.
Our challenges are clear, but opportunities are also present. For instance, the completion of the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2014 has huge implications for our nation, but particularly for the South. The economic impact of Southern ports extends far beyond their immediate vicinity, generating jobs and revenue for our entire region. Already, nearly 60 percent of all U.S. imports and exports transit through a Southern waterway or port, underscoring the importance of our legislative attention to this critical issue. Preparing our ports, rails and roads to handle the larger cargo ships and greater traffic offers Southern states an opening to build our regional economy. In the future, as exports begin to play a more prominent role in our region’s economic health, our ports will be a critical variable in this equation for prosperity.
The economy that emerges from the Great Recession will be very different from the preceding one, and our states are taking great strides to prepare the workforce they will need for the future. From ground-breaking programs in elementary and secondary education to demanding excellence in post-secondary programs, the South is leading the way in workforce development. As we work together to improve the educational opportunities and skills of our citizens, we are building a new model for the rest of the nation.
Southern state houses have long been centers of innovation. Whether your state is dealing with critical infrastructure issues such as ports, rails and roads, or whether your state continues to provide a solid foundation for a 21st century workforce, the Southern Legislative Conference of The Council of State Governments can play a key role in assisting its members in crafting responsible and practical pieces of legislation. I urge each of you to work through the SLC, with your colleagues from across the South, to find solutions to the common challenges that face our region.
See you in Mobile!
Speaker Mike Hubbard
SLC Chair, 2012-2013