2009 SLC News and Updates

American Maglev Technology

Sujit CanagaRetna, Senior Fiscal Analyst, SLC (left), and Representative Vance Smith, Georgia (right)

June 9, 2009 | Powder Springs, Georgia

Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee Technical Tour
American Maglev Technology

Representative Vance Smith, Jr., Georgia, Chair of the SLC’s Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee toured American Maglev Technology (AMT) Inc.’s facility in Powder Springs, Georgia on June 9, 2009.* Chairman Smith was shown around the facility by Tony J. Morris, Chief Executive Officer of AMT, who provided a historical summary of AMT, a demonstration of deploying a magnetic field to lift and propel an object (in this instance, a passenger rail car) and a short test ride in AMT’s rail car at the facility. Mr. Morris noted that Maglev technology is decades old and has been utilized in several global settings. He added that “AMT has incorporated the technological brilliance of frictionless transport on a half-inch magnetic field with a market-driven business model, allowing for the construction and operation of inter- and intra-city maglev systems at a fraction of the cost of foreign maglev and traditional steel-wheels-on-steel-track” systems. Work on the Powder Springs, Georgia, test site began in spring 2006, when AMT, with assistance from new investors in its technology, broke ground on a new test site. By summer 2007, it was fully operational with components and efforts from 118 companies in 77 Congressional districts and 26 states.

* On June 25, 2009, Chairman Smith resigned his legislative seat and became the new Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Delegation on Federal Transportation Legislation

Left to right: Representative Vance Smith, Georgia; Senator Jim Keane, Montana; David Matsuda, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, U.S. Department of Transportation; Deputy House Speaker Bob Godfrey, Connecticut; Representative Alice Hausman, Minnesota; Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, Tennessee

June 23-24, 2009 | Washington, D.C.

Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee Delegation
Federal Transportation Legislation

SLC Vice Chair Senator Mark Norris, Tennessee, and Representative Vance Smith Jr., Georgia, Chair of the SLC’s Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs Committee, were in Washington, D.C. on June 23 and 24, 2009, meeting with members of Congress, senior Congressional and U.S. Department of Transportation staff regarding the reauthorization of the federal transportation legislation set to expire on September 30, 2009.* SLC staff initially began working on this visit to Washington with The Council of State Governments’ (CSG) D.C. office staff and the delegation was then expanded to include legislators from the three other CSG regions. The national composition of the CSG delegation helped reinforce the critical importance of the upcoming legislation to state policymakers in every part of the country though each CSG region had its own priorities that were highlighted in the discussions.

In addition to the meetings with the officials listed previously, the legislators were also provided briefings on the upcoming federal transportation reauthorization by Mr. Emil Frankel, Director of Transportation, Bipartisan Policy Center (former Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation and former Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation) and Mr. Jack Basso, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Management and Business Development, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). Mr. Basso has previously served in a variety of federal administration positions, including as Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs and Chief Financial Officer at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Assistant Director for General Management of the Office of Management and Budget, and Director of Fiscal Services for the Federal Highway Administration.

* On June 25, 2009, Chairman Smith resigned his legislative seat and became the new Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation

Delegation to China

Left to right: Representative Steve Harrelson, Arkansas; Senator Mark Norris, Tennessee; Speaker Robbie Wills, Arkansas; He Yafei, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, China; Speaker Jim Tucker, Louisiana; Speaker Seth Hammett, Alabama; Speaker Ron Richard, Missouri; and President Pro Tempore Charles J. Colgan, Virginia

Photo Gallery
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5

September 27 - October 4, 2009

Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee Delegation
U.S.-China Relations

A delegation of presiding officers from The Council of State Governments' Southern Legislative Conference recently traveled to China at the invitation of the Chinese government.  The SLC delegation’s visit to China was sponsored by the Hong-Kong-based China-U.S. Exchange Foundation and organized by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC).  The China-U.S. Exchange Foundation has sponsored a number of delegations from the United States to China and, most recently, in May 2009, arranged for a group of American journalists to travel to a number of Chinese cities to gain first-hand insights into China’s economic and social development.  The goal of the Foundation is to help Americans across many spectrums gain a deeper understanding of the environmental, economic, social and political developments in China.

The SLC delegation to China included Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark S. Norris, SLC chair elect and delegation leader; Alabama House Speaker Seth Hammett; Arkansas House Speaker Robbie Wills; Louisiana House Speaker Jim Tucker; Missouri House Speaker Ron Richard; Virginia Senate President Pro Tempore Charles J. Colgan; and Arkansas House Majority Leader Steve Harrelson. Colleen Cousineau, SLC executive director, and Sujit CanagaRetna, SLC senior fiscal analyst, staffed the delegation.

Day 1
  • The SLC delegation was hosted to a breakfast briefing by Mr. Tung Chee Hwa, the founding chairman of the China – United States Exchange Foundation.  Mr. Tung served as the first chief executive of Hong Kong (1997 to 2005) in the aftermath of the transfer of the island from Britain to China in 1997.  Mr. Tung is a senior statesman in the Chinese political establishment with extensive experience interacting with political figures at the highest level in both China and the United States over a period of some four decades.  According to Mr. Tung, “the China – United States relationship is the single most important bilateral relationship in the 21st century.”  The discussion covered a wide array of topics ranging from international trade to intellectual property to political reforms to investment.

  • The SLC delegation then met with Mr. He Yafei, China’s Vice Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Some of the important points that surfaced during the dialogue at this meeting were the following: “China supports a more balanced trade relationship with the United States; China seeks more high-tech exports (for civilian purposes) from the United States; and SLC economic development officials need to focus more on educating Chinese investors on specific rules and regulations in the states.”
  • Madame Li Xiaolin, Vice President of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), hosted the SLC delegation to a luncheon banquet.  During remarks made at this event, Madame Li reiterated the importance of the China – United States relationship and acknowledged how honored she was to host the premier delegation of SLC presiding officers in China.
  • The SLC delegation visited the Great Wall of China, one of the ancient wonders of the world.
Day 2
  • The SLC delegation was among the invited guests to the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, an impressive spectacle that was not open to the general public.  The delegation gathered several hours before the parade began at Tiananmen Square to witness the vast display of Chinese military power, including 52 weapons systems, 151 warplane flyovers, 12 intercontinental-range missiles, and a new missile, the Dongfeng 21-C, along with thousands of marching troops.  The military display was followed by a long procession of floats, each highlighting a Chinese province’s characteristics or one of China’s accomplishments (space program, high-speed rail, etc.).
  • In the evening, the SLC delegation returned to Tiananmen Square to witness a carefully calibrated and very colorful cultural celebration followed by a stunning fireworks display, all centered on celebrating China’s progress in the past 60 years.
Day 3
  • The delegation flew to Shanghai and was taken on a guided tour highlighting the city’s extraordinary progress in terms of infrastructure.  The tour also included a riverboat cruise focusing on efforts by the city to expand its waterfront capacity both in terms of its commercial and tourist potential.
Day 4
  • The SLC delegation met with Dr. Yang Jiemian, President of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, and senior officials at the Institute.  The Institute, founded in 1960, has a fine national and international reputation as a think tank and the discussions between the SLC delegation and Institute officials covered a broad range of topics of bilateral interest.
  • The SLC delegation then toured the Expo 2010 headquarters and received a briefing on the preparations for this historic event next year.  While the Expo 2010 will be held in Shanghai, China, in the grand tradition of international fairs and expositions, the theme of the exposition will be Better City – Better Life.  Officials informed us that the event will reinforce Shanghai's new status as a major economic and cultural center and generate the largest number of visitors in the history of world's fairs in terms of gross numbers.
  • Individual SLC presiding officers held meetings with officials from their economic development agencies and American companies from their home states operating in China.
Day 5
  • The SLC delegation rode the Maglev train from the Longyang Road station in Pudong to Pudong/Shanghai International Airport, a distance of 30 kilometers, or 18.6 miles.  Several presiding officers on the SLC delegation commented that the ride on the Shanghai Maglev Train ranked very high among the highlights of the trip.  The world’s first commercial high-speed maglev line opened to the public on January 1, 2004.  While the train can reach a maximum normal operation speed of 431 kilometers per hour (268 miles per hour), during the SLC delegation’s ride, the train reached a speed of 301 kilometers per hour, or 187 miles per hour.

2nd Americas 2020 Summit

Left to right: Representative Bill Sample, Arkansas; Representative Guy Liebmann, Oklahoma; and Representative Herbert B. Dixon, Louisiana

November 5, 2009 | San Antonio, Texas

Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee Workshop
Americas 2020 Summit

At the recommendation of the leadership in their respective legislative chambers, Representative Bill Sample (chair of the Arkansas House Public Transportation Committee), Representative Herbert B. Dixon (member of the Louisiana House Transportation, Highways, and Public Works Committee) and Representative Guy Liebmann (chair of the General Government and Transportation sub-committee of the Oklahoma House Appropriations and Budget Committee), all legislators from The Council of State Governments’ Southern Office, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) states bordering Texas, recently participated in the second annual Americas 2020 International Trade & Transportation Summit in San Antonio, Texas. The Americas 2020 Summit, co-hosted by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and The Council of State Governments’ Western Office (CSG-WEST), seeks to discuss and act on trade and transportation interests that unite the United States, Mexico and Canada. The SLC legislators, along with international business, government and community leaders, participated in discussions related to expanding emerging trade corridors; improving mobility and security across international boundaries; and enhancing economic development and global competitiveness. In order to foster cooperation and acquire information on critical issues, the SLC offers limited state delegation scholarships for technical visits and conferences such as the Americas 2020 Summit.


American Maglev Technology

Left to right: Colleen Cousineau, SLC; Representative Rod Scott, Alabama; Representative Nelson Cole, North Carolina; and Sujit CanagaRetna, SLC

December 2, 2009 | Powder Springs, Georgia

Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee Technical Tour
American Maglev Technology

Continuing its efforts to promote optimal public policy options for state legislators, the SLC’s Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs Committee recently arranged for Representative Nelson Cole, North Carolina, and Representative Rod Scott, Alabama, to tour the American Maglev Technology (AMT), Inc. facility in Powder Springs, Georgia.  Tony J. Morris, Chief Executive Officer of AMT, briefed the two legislators on the intricacies of Maglev technology and its potential for moving both passengers and cargo efficiently in a number of settings.  Among the positive outcomes of Maglev technology cited were lower energy (electric) cost per passenger kilometer compared to cars and aircraft (approximately 1.8 kilowatt hour per kilometer or 70 percent less energy than conventional transportation); zero carbon emissions except for the electricity; technology tried and tested by German and Japanese companies; reduced dependence on imported energy sources; high acceleration and deceleration capacity of the Maglev vehicle given the lack of surface contact or friction; and an elevated design that enables the Maglev system to deploy along existing rights-of-way with minimal disruption and displacement of current cityscape.  The final portion of the SLC visit involved a test ride in AMT’s rail car at the facility.

After the visit to the Maglev test facility, Representatives Cole and Scott visited with Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Commissioner Vance Smith, Jr., at GDOT headquarters in Atlanta.  Commissioner Smith, a former Georgia legislator, was most recently chair of the SLC’s Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee (2008-2009).  The SLC legislators and Commissioner Smith discussed a host of transportation issues including the status of transportation funding in their states, the fiscal position of the federal Highway Trust Fund and the urgent need to devise alternate funding mechanisms to replenish this Fund, the reauthorization of the federal transportation legislation (SAFETEA-LU) in 2010 and transportation projects related to the federal stimulus legislation.

Both Representatives Cole and Scott serve on SLC’s Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs Committee. Representative Cole also is the chair of the North Carolina House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and vice chair of the North Carolina House Transportation Committee.  Representative Scott serves on the Commerce and Rules Committees in the Alabama House.