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71st Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference

Biloxi, Mississippi
July 29 - August 2, 2017

Annual Meeting Program


July 29

7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.


West Lobby, Mississippi Coast Convention Center

11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Staff Workshop

3:00 - 4:30 p.m.

Executive Committee Session

7:00 - 10:00 p.m.

Opening Reception


July 30

7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.


West Lobby, Mississippi Coast Convention Center

8:00 - 9:30 a.m.

Committee Breakfasts *

+ Agriculture & Rural Development

Agricultural Trade with Cuba

Despite ongoing economic sanctions, the United States has emerged as a major exporter of agricultural goods to Cuba, which imports up to 80 percent of its food. Given Cuba’s geographic and economic position, states in the Southern region of the United States have competitive export advantages in terms of production, quality, logistics and proximity. Cuba’s primary agricultural imports include poultry, wheat, dairy products, soybean meal, corn, rice, soybean oil, and feeds and fodders. Southern states are top producers and exporters of these products. Of all states exporting to Cuba, Southern states comprise nine of the top 10. This session examines current and future agricultural export opportunities to Cuba, current barriers, and steps states can take to initiate trade with the island nation.

Mike Strain, D.V.M., Commissioner, Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Louisiana

Collin Laverty, President, Cuba Educational Travel, Florida

Legislative Roundtable

The Legislative Roundtable highlights important agriculture and rural development legislation taken up in SLC states during recent legislative sessions. Members from each state will brief the committee on new measures undertaken in their respective states. This provides policymakers with the opportunity to share their experiences with others facing similar challenges and opportunities, exchange ideas, and serves as a foundation for substantive policy discussions.

+ Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs

Autonomous and Connected Vehicles: The Road Ahead

Automated and connected vehicle technologies are being developed and deployed across a variety of public and private platforms, potentially increasing safety, reducing emissions and improving the efficiency and reliability of the transportation system. The accelerated pace of innovation in the automated vehicles sector will require states and operators of roadway infrastructure to adopt policies and technology to accommodate the vehicles of the future. This session examines this once-futuristic enterprise and what roles states may expect to play.

Scott Shogan, Vice President, Connected/Automated Vehicle Market Leader, WSP USA, Michigan

Senator Jim Tracy, Speaker Pro Tempore, Tennessee

Legislative Roundtable

The Legislative Roundtable highlights important economic development, transportation and cultural affairs legislation taken up in SLC states during recent legislative sessions. Members from each state will brief the committee on new measures undertaken in their respective states. This provides policymakers with the opportunity to share their experiences with others facing similar challenges and opportunities, exchange ideas, and serves as a foundation for substantive policy discussions.

+ Education

An Overview of “Mississippi Education Works”

In 2013, the office of Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant played a key role in guiding a series of education reforms, known collectively as “Mississippi Education Works,” which prioritized literacy promotion; state-funded early learning collaborative projects; teacher and school quality improvement; and career orientation. Since its implementation, the legislation has demonstrated quantifiable successes and received national attention from leading educational institutions. This session highlights “Mississippi Education Works” and examines the ways in which the measures have been successful.

Laurie Smith, Ph.D., Education and Workforce Development Policy Advisor, Office of Governor Phil Bryant, Mississippi

Loan Forgiveness and Scholarships for Teacher Recruitment and Retention

Teacher shortages, particularly for high-demand subjects and critical geographic areas, have led to a proliferation of state-sponsored financial incentives to encourage more students and professionals to enter the teaching profession. Loan forgiveness programs and scholarships have the potential to mitigate these shortages, especially with teacher salaries remaining low compared to other occupations, and student debt becoming increasingly burdensome for graduates. Such incentives must be properly structured by covering a significant percentage of students’ tuition costs, targeting the right subjects and geographic areas, and attracting qualified candidates if they are to be successful. This session features a presentation about the effectiveness of financial incentives for teacher recruitment and retention and offers potential solutions to ensure they achieve their intended results.

Tim Sass, Ph.D., Distinguished University Professor, Department of Economics, Fiscal Research Center, Georgia State University

Legislative Roundtable

The Legislative Roundtable highlights important education legislation taken up in SLC states during recent legislative sessions. Members from each state will brief the committee on new measures undertaken in their respective states. This provides policymakers with the opportunity to share their experiences with others facing similar challenges and opportunities, exchange ideas, and serves as a foundation for substantive policy discussions.

10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

SLC/Mark Norris Campaign Against Hunger

noon - 1:30 p.m.

Women in Leadership Forum

2:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Committee Programs *

+ Energy & Environment

Lessons in Resilience: Coastal Restoration in Mississippi

Hurricane Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005, damaging thousands of homes and businesses, decimating public infrastructure, and displacing tens of thousands of Mississippi residents. Nearly five years later, the April 20, 2010 Macondo well blowout, and subsequent oil spill, caused serious damage to marine and wildlife habitats, as well as fishing and tourism industries. These two disasters, one natural and one manmade, had substantial impacts on the Mississippi Gulf Coast economy. The resiliency of the state’s coastal communities is of critical economic importance to the nation, as they provide a large portion of the nation’s oil and gas supply, host key port complexes and provide vital habitat for economically important fisheries. This session highlights efforts to restore the coastline and economy of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, creating a more resilient community.

George Ramseur, Director, Office of Coastal Restoration and Resilience, Department of Marine Resources, Mississippi

Gary Rikard, Executive Director, Department of Environmental Quality, Mississippi

The Road to the Future: Georgia's Laboratory for Sustainable Infrastructure Innovation

Highways connect our communities, but they also can create critical problems and divisions, disrupting ecosystems and habitats. In July 2014, the state of Georgia honored the legacy of late carpet mogul Ray C. Anderson by renaming a stretch of Interstate 85 as the Ray C. Anderson Memorial Highway, or, “the Ray.“ Through a unique partnership of private, nonprofit and state entities, this highway is poised to become one of the nation’s safest and most fuel-efficient highways. Serving as a working laboratory for the development of sustainable transportation infrastructure, the Ray features a solar roadway, public solar-powered vehicle charging station, butterfly habitat and bioswales that filter storm water runoff. This session highlights planned and completed projects along the Ray, and examines the opportunities and benefits of sustainable infrastructure.

Allie Kelly, Executive Director, The Ray, Georgia

Costas Simoglou, Director, Center of Innovation for Energy Technology, Georgia Department of Economic Development

+ Fiscal Affairs & Government Operations

Public Pensions: A Fiscal Imperative

Managing more than $3.6 trillion in stocks, bonds and other securities, state and local governments make calculated decisions geared toward securing a return rate on investments that ensures future benefits for their retirees.

From market volatility to appropriate levels of risk in public pension plans, to demographic characteristics affecting funding and contribution risk, to weighing changes in defined benefits and defined contributions plans, this session focuses on the range of opportunities and challenges facing state governments in maintaining their employee retirement investments.

Herb Frierson, Commissioner, Department of Revenue, Mississippi

Donald J. Boyd, Ph.D., Director of Fiscal Studies, Rockefeller Institute of Government, New York

Recent Trends in State Budgets

For the seventh consecutive year, state budgets for fiscal year 2017 project moderate growth in general fund spending. The aftermath of the Great Recession still is being felt, and the softening of state tax collections is a lingering symptom. This session provides a review of the unevenness and slowing of general fund revenue growth, states’ efforts to address the uncertainty of revenue streams through both tax decreases and increases, and the status of rainy day funds and the trend to continue bolstering these accounts.

John Hicks, Executive Director, National Association of State Budget Officers, Washington, D.C.

+ Human Services & Public Safety

Managing Foster Care Systems

Many states across the country, including several in the South, are struggling with inefficiencies in their foster care systems. According to the most recent available federal data, there are more than 400,000 children in foster care throughout the United States, many of whom do not receive adequate support and cannot be placed with permanent families due to a lack of resources. For some states, deficiencies in the foster care system have reached ‘crisis levels,’ as vulnerable children are removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, parental substance abuse, and other traumatic environments, leaving many states scrambling to find a solution. This session examines the many obstacles states face in managing sustainable foster care systems by highlighting actions that have been taken in South Carolina to address this extremely important issue.

Michelle Dhunjishah, Director, Children's Law Center, University of South Carolina

Long-Term Care in the South

Long-term care, broadly defined as a range of services that support individuals who are limited in their ability to care for themselves, is becoming an increasingly important policy concern as the nation’s population continues to age. Today, approximately 70 percent of people turning 65 will need some form of long-term care during their lifetimes, posing concerns not only for patients and their families, but also for state budgets. Long-term care costs often are unaffordable for large segments of the population, forcing many recipients to instead rely on other types of support, including Medicaid and unpaid caregiving from friends and family. This session highlights the major problems long-term care poses for states and reviews potential solutions that can help policymakers address this critical challenge in the years ahead.

Kathleen Ujvari, Senior Strategic Policy Advisor, AARP Public Policy Institute, Washington, D.C.

Anne Tumlinson, Chief Executive Officer, Anne Tumlinson Innovations LLC, Washington, D.C.

Legislative Roundtable

The Legislative Roundtable highlights important human services and public safety legislation taken up in SLC states during recent legislative sessions. Members from each state will brief the committee on new measures undertaken in their respective states. This provides policymakers with the opportunity to share their experiences with others facing similar challenges and opportunities, exchange ideas, and serves as a foundation for substantive policy discussions.

5:00 - 6:00 p.m.

Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills Alumni Reception

7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Family Night


July 31

7:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.


West Lobby, Mississippi Coast Convention Center

8:00 - 9:30 a.m.

Committee Breakfasts *

+ Energy & Environment

Energy Resilience and the U.S. Military: Lessons for the States

Energy has long been a fundamental enabler of military operations. To enhance national security, the U.S. military is increasingly focused on increasing resilience by implementing renewable energy technologies, onsite distributed generation, and smart microgrids. Onsite generation and storage, combined with specialized control systems, could enable the electricity to be directly routed to essential requirements at military installations in the event of a grid disruption or other power emergency. This session explores energy generation, storage and transmission initiatives undertaken by the military and how states in the Southern region may adopt similar strategies to ensure critical operations maintain power during sustained emergency situations.

Ariel Castillo, Ph.D., Senior Energy Resilience Program Manager, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Energy, Installations, and Environment, U.S. Department of Defense, Virginia

Legislative Roundtable

The Legislative Roundtable highlights important energy and environment legislation taken up in SLC states during recent legislative sessions. Members from each state will brief the committee on new measures undertaken in their respective states. This provides policymakers with the opportunity to share their experiences with others facing similar challenges and opportunities, exchange ideas, and serves as a foundation for substantive policy discussions.

+ Fiscal Affairs & Government Operations

The Hidden Risks of P3s: Fiscal Challenges and Opportunities

State and local government interest in pursuing public-private partnerships (P3s) as a financing mechanism for transportation and infrastructure projects has been around for well over a decade and, with the recent promotion of P3s by the federal Administration, interest in them has renewed. While P3s are a useful financial tool, they must be properly structured to ensure that both sides of the partnership benefit. This session examines components of P3s that call for close inspection; successes and shortcomings of recent P3s; advantages that well-structured P3s can provide to state and local governments; and sections of the public sector where P3s have proven their effectiveness.

Bradley J. Nowak, Partner, Williams Mullen, Washington, D.C.

Legislative Roundtable

The Legislative Roundtable highlights important fiscal and government operations legislation taken up in SLC states during recent legislative sessions. Members from each state will brief the committee on new measures undertaken in their respective states. This provides policymakers with the opportunity to share their experiences with others facing similar challenges and opportunities, exchange ideas, and serves as a foundation for substantive policy discussions.

+ Human Services & Public Safety

Men’s Health

Men are predominantly affected by a broad range of illnesses and health conditions. Due to a lack of understanding, poor health education, or harmful behavioral patterns – or a combination of all three – men often face relatively high mortality rates that can adversely impact families, the workforce and communities. Compared to women, men are more likely to smoke and drink, make unhealthy and risky life choices, and avoid regular checkups with their physicians. This session reviews the ways in which the legislative process helps develop and sustain public health programming as it relates to men’s health.

Mike Leventhal, Executive Director, Tennessee Men's Health Network

Harry Tindell, Former Representative, Tennessee

Healthcare Reform

Changes to the Affordable Care Act have the potential to significantly affect states across the South. If Congress passes a law aimed at reforming national healthcare, policymakers will have to reconsider the ways that healthcare is delivered in their states. Medicaid budgets, private insurance, health benefits and tax credits to help consumers pay for coverage all are likely to be reformed in a prospective bill. It is probable that states will have greater autonomy to determine how healthcare is administered within their borders – giving them the ability to tailor their own programs to fit the needs and preferences of their populations – perhaps with fewer federal resources at their disposal. This session reviews the healthcare reform measures being considered in Congress and highlights the extent to which states will be impacted if changes are implemented.

Jennifer Tolbert, Director, State Health Reform, Kaiser Family Foundation, Washington, D.C.

10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

+ Opening Plenary Session

Archie Manning

Archie Manning

College and Professional Football Legend

Born in Drew, Mississippi, Archie Manning attended the University of Mississippi, where he was named an All-American Quarterback. He was voted Mississippi’s Greatest All-Time Athlete in 1992 and named Mississippi’s Most Popular Athlete of the Century. During his 15-year career with the New Orleans Saints, Archie set multiple passing records, played in NFL Pro Bowls and was named NFC Most Valuable Player in 1978. For 25 years, he hosted four Archie Manning Cystic Fibrosis Benefit Golf Tournaments in Louisiana and Mississippi, and now remains actively in a wide variety of charitable and civic causes.

noon - 1:30 p.m.

+ Comparative Data Reports Presentations Luncheon *

(Sponsored by the Fiscal Affairs & Government Operations Committee)

This year’s comparative data reports highlight education, adult corrections and Medicaid. Prepared by staff from West Virginia and Louisiana, these reports track a multitude of revenue sources, performance measures, program variances, and appropriations levels in the SLC states. They remain invaluable tools for both legislators and legislative staff in crafting effective legislation and implementing policy decisions.

Adult Corrections

Monique Appeaning, Legislative Fiscal Office, Louisiana


Hank Hager, Senate, West Virginia


Zachary M. Rau, Legislative Fiscal Office, Louisiana

2:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Committee Programs *

+ Agriculture & Rural Development

Floods and Farm Relief Packages

In recent years, SLC states have been ravaged by historic flooding. These natural disasters can have a huge impact on family farms. After the floods abate, the hard work of harvest and restoration begins. Despite a farmer’s best effort, losses often are unavoidable. To support agricultural producers who sustained major losses not covered by crop insurance and other disaster relief funding, a number of SLC states have provided one-time relief packages and support programs. This session overviews South Carolina’s Palmetto Farm Aid bill, designed to provide $40 million in state funds for farmers affected by the October 2015 floods.

Clint Leach, Assistant Commissioner, South Carolina Department of Agriculture

Senator Greg Hembree, South Carolina

State Implementation of the Food Safety and Modernization Act

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law on January 4, 2011. The law, and subsequent FDA rules, sets standards for sanitation, processing and transportation of produce and aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus of federal regulators from responding to contamination to preventing it. Under the new rules, states have the option to enforce the regulations themselves or allow enforcement to be undertaken by the FDA. The rules also allow states that wish to enforce the regulations to enact implementing legislation. Of the 15 states in the Southern region, 13 received funding through the FDA’s State Produce Implementation Cooperative Agreement Plan, which aims to assist states in designing and implementing compliance programs. This session overviews state options for FSMA implementation, trends in SLC states, and provides a briefing on Mississippi’s state approach to FSMA implementation.

Joe Reardon, Assistant Commissioner, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Adam Choate, Director, Consumer Protection Division, Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce

+ Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs

The Workforce of 2025: One State’s Path Forward 

For several years, conversations about economic development among state government leaders and policymakers, industry and business leaders, and educators have increasingly become conversations about education. For Tennessee, it was clear: The state needed to change the conversation about college and career readiness, and have 55 percent of workers with a post-secondary degree or certificate by 2025. The Drive to 55 became Tennessee’s mission to ensure that more Tennesseans are equipped with the skills and credentials needed to support the state’s economy now and in the future. This session highlights the myriad aspects of this groundbreaking program, the partnerships created to achieve its success and the role the state played in making it a reality.

Mike Krause, Executive Director, Tennessee Higher Education Commission

The Golden Triangle: Advanced Manufacturing in Mississippi

The portion of northeast Mississippi, from Columbus to Westpoint to Starkville, known as The Golden Triangle, is a region rich in assets and opportunity. But it hasn’t always been that way. In the past decade, approximately $6 billion in capital investments have created roughly 6,000 new jobs; a 21st century infrastructure of highway, rail, port, air and omni-modal connections that accelerate global and domestic access; and a highly skilled workforce. The Golden Triangle has become a model for economic development. This session explores the past, present and future successes of The Golden Triangle, presented by its chief executive officer.

Joe Max Higgins, Jr., Chief Executive Officer, The Golden Triangle, Mississippi

Historic Preservation and Tax Credits

In 2006, Mississippi enacted a tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic structures to stimulate job growth, increase the tax base, and revitalize local communities. Since its inception, the Rehabilitation Tax Incentives Program has been the underlying fiscal catalyst leading to the restoration of 336 buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places, certified as a contributing property to a historic district, or designated as a Mississippi Landmark. This session provides case studies of historic buildings that now serve as generators for redevelopment in Mississippi's beautiful downtowns.

Lolly Rash, Executive Director, Mississippi Heritage Trust

+ Education

Leveraging Technology in the Classroom

Technological advances have created exciting opportunities within the classroom for students and teachers alike. Increasingly, students have access to a host of digital platforms that can make learning more enjoyable and, importantly, more accessible for learners at all levels. With the growth of personalized learning, one-to-one computing, and open educational resources, new possibilities have emerged allowing educators to provide their students with customized access to a growing volume of digitalized materials. This session examines the advantages of utilizing new and emerging technologies in the classroom and focuses on the Tennessee Digital Resources Library, a unique statewide initiative designed to help school districts use and share open educational resources.

Sharon Leu, Senior Policy Advisor, Higher Education Innovation, Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.

Bobby Cox, Ed.S., Director of Schools, Warren County, Tennessee

The State of Broadband in Rural Schools

Rural school districts across the country struggle to provide classrooms with consistent access to high-quality digital infrastructure that often is taken for granted by their urban and suburban counterparts. Overall, the country has seen improvements in recent years to expand broadband networks to previously unconnected schools. However, many rural districts still do not have convenient access to the fiber-optic cables that are necessary for broadband internet speeds; those that do pay more than twice as much, on average, for bandwidth. Without high-speed internet, schools run the risk of seeing their students fall behind at a time when acquisition of technical knowledge is crucial for success in the job market. This session reviews the strides that states have made in recent years to expand their broadband networks while acknowledging the obstacles that remain, and highlights recent actions taken in Arkansas to ensure all students have access to high-speed digital infrastructure.

Eric Saunders, Ed.D., Assistant Commissioner of Research and Technology, Arkansas Department of Education

Michael Turzanski, Director, State Engagements, EducationSuperHighway, California

5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Policy Positions Committee

6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

+ Program Interval

Free time for attendees and individual state activities.

9:00 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.

2018 Host State Reception: Missouri


August 1

7:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.


West Lobby, Mississippi Coast Convention Center

8:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

+ Closing Plenary & Business Breakfast Session

Fred Haise

Fred Haise

Apollo 13 Astronaut, Air Force and Marine Corps Veteran

Born in Biloxi, Mississippi, Fred Haise is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, with postgraduate coursework at the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Test Pilot School and at Harvard. With flight experience in both the U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force, Haise has logged more than 9,000 hours of flying time in over 80 types of aircraft. His 20-year career at NASA began in 1959. As an astronaut, Haise served as backup crew for the missions of Apollo 8, 11, and 16. He flew as lunar module pilot on the aborted Apollo 13 mission in 1970. After retiring from NASA, Haise joined Northrop Grunman in 1979, retiring as president of technical services in 1996.


Executive Committee

Meets upon conclusion of the Closing Plenary

10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

+ State Transformation in Action Recognition (STAR) Award Judges Panel *

The SLC State Transformation in Action Recognition (STAR) Program identifies and promotes innovative ideas and programs from the Southern region’s best problem solvers: the states themselves. The recognition is sought by a wide array of state agencies, departments, and institutions operating within the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of state government. Each year, two exceptional programs are selected by a panel of experienced policy professionals as models of efficiency and effectiveness in state government in the Southern region. This year, the five finalists presenting are:

Arkansas - Amputation Prevention Stand-Down Program

West Virginia - Electronic Application Processing System

Tennessee - Prioritizing Student Veterans: Tennessee’s Policy Initiatives to Support Higher Education Attainment for Veterans

West Virginia - Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit Information System

Louisiana - Integrative Behavioral and Primary Care Model

10:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Committee Technical Tour

+ Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs

Huntington Ingalls Industries

Huntington Ingalls Industries is Mississippi’s largest private manufacturing employer, situated on 800 acres. With more than 11,500 employees, Ingalls has been building the most complex ships in the world since 1938. Approximately 70 percent of the Navy’s surface fleet was built at Ingalls, which is the only shipbuilder in the country capable of building four classes of ships at the same time. This technical tour provides committee members briefings by shipyard officials and tours of the shipyard, as well as the state-of-the-art Maritime Training Academy.

Bus will depart promptly at 10:45 a.m. from the bus lobby of the Beau Rivage; casual attire; lunch is provided.

Note: Due to security measures and protocols, interested committee members must sign up to participate no later than 3:00 p.m., Monday, July 31.

11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Committee Technical Tours

+ Agriculture & Rural Development

The University of Southern Mississippi’s Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center

The Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center, located in Ocean Springs, houses the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory’s marine aquaculture research and graduate education programs. The $25 million aquaculture facility employs cutting-edge technology, peer-reviewed research and hands-on testing to grow fish in an environmentally responsible and economically feasible manner. The center works directly with blue crab, red snapper, marine shrimp, spotted seatrout and striped bass. Committee members will participate in a tour of the Center and briefings on key research being undertaken.

Bus will depart promptly at 11:45 a.m. from the bus lobby of the Beau Rivage; casual attire; lunch is provided.

+ Energy & Environment

Wetland Conservation and the Coastal Economy

This technical tour includes a water tour of the Pascagoula River’s old growth swamps and tidal marshes and a briefing on the important connection between wetland conservation and the coastal economy. Launching from the Pascagoula River Audubon Center, committee members will receive a private boat tour of one of the last free-flowing rivers in the continental United States. This pristine river basin boasts impressive biodiversity and the opportunity to view a multitude of wildlife. Next, committee members will receive a briefing on the unique ecosystem of the Pascagoula River watershed and its vital role in supporting local tourism, recreational and commercial fishing, as well as providing critical storm protection.  

Bus will depart promptly at 11:45 a.m. from the bus lobby of the Beau Rivage; casual attire; lunch is provided.

6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Reception & State Dinner


August 2


* Attending substantive committee sessions of the SLC annual meeting may qualify for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits in your state. Attendees of the 2016 SLC annual meeting were eligible to earn up to 20 hours of CLE credits. Contact Mikko Lindberg at the SLC for more information.

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