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71st Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference

Biloxi, Mississippi
July 29 - August 2, 2017

Meeting Links

Annual Meeting Program


Saturday

July 29

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

Registration

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

Sunday

July 30

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

Registration

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 Shogun, Vice President, Connected/Automated Vehicle Market Leader, WSP | Parsons Brinkerhoff, Michigan

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 pushing through 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,” provides a legislative perspective in passing the reforms, and examines the ways in which the measures have been successful.

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.

9:30 - 11:00 a.m.

SLC/Mark Norris Campaign Against Hunger

noon - 1:30 p.m.

Women in Leadership

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.

The Road to the Future: Georgia'a 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 between private, non-profit 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.

+ 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

+ 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 and highlights actions that have been taken in South Carolina and Texas to address this extremely important issue.

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.

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

Monday

July 31

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

Registration

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.

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

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.

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.

10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

+ Opening Plenary Session

Archie Manning

Archie Manning

College and Professional Football Legend

noon - 1:30 p.m.

Comparative Data Reports Presentations *

Fiscal Affairs & Government Operations

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.

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.

+ 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. Over 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

+ 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 by focusing on unique initiatives in Tennessee and Louisiana, demonstrating how states are successfully leveraging technology to improve student outcomes. 

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 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 obstacles that continue to confront many rural school districts and highlights recent actions taken in Alabama to ensure all students have access to high-speed digital infrastructure.  

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

Policy Positions Committee

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

2018 Host State Reception: Missouri

Tuesday

August 1

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

Registration

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

 

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 *

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

Committee Technical Tours

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

Reception & State Dinner

Wednesday

August 2

DEPARTURES

* 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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