2010 SLC News and Updates

August 26, 2010

SLC Annual Meeting Presentations now available.
Presentations from the 64th Annual Meeting in Charleston, South Carolina, are now available for viewing. Click here to view the presentations.

Vogtle Electric Generating Plant

September 13, 2010 | Waynesboro, Georgia

Energy & Environment Committee Delegation
Vogtle Electric Generating Plant

On September 13, 2010, members of the Energy & Environment Committee, including Committee Chair, Representative Chuck Martin, Georgia, traveled to the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant near Augusta, Georgia. The plant currently operates two nuclear reactors and is in the process of building two additional units. The group of Southern legislators and staff saw presentations on electricity generation at the plant; toured the containment buildings that house the two working reactors, turbines, electric generators and control rooms; and visited the grounds where water intake facilities and the 500-foot cooling towers are located. In addition, the group toured the construction sites where the two new units are being built. Once these reactors come on line, the plant's generating capacity will be more than 4,600 megawatts.

September 14, 2010

SLC Chair Lauded for Environmental Efforts
Senate Majority Leader and SLC Chair Mark Norris was recognized by the Tennessee League of Conservation Voters for his leadership on land conservation issues. Read more here.

September 18, 2010

SLC Delegation Heads to China
A delegation of four state legislative leaders began a 9-day visit to China, focusing on renewable energy, transportation solutions and trade. Updates on the trip will be available here.

Delegation to China - 2010
Left to right: Speaker Pro Tem Kris Steele, Oklahoma; Colleen Cousineau, SLC Executive Director; Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, Georgia; Yang Jiemian, Ph.D., President, Shanghai Institute for International Studies; Senator William Wampler, Virginia; Senate President Pro Tempore-Elect Paul Bookout, Arkansas; and Sujit CanagaRetna, SLC Senior Fiscal Analyst
More Photos

September 18-25, 2010

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

A delegation of legislators from The Council of State Governments’ Southern Office, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), recently traveled to China for the second consecutive year.  As in 2009, the 2010 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).  Both the Foundation and the Association seek to bolster links between China and the United States by promoting a deeper understanding of the environmental, economic, social and political developments in both China and the United States.  China also has emerged as a critical trading partner in all the Southern states, reinforcing the need for a more comprehensive appreciation of the economic dynamics of states in the SLC and the different provinces in China.

The 2010 SLC delegation to China comprised Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, Georgia, delegation leader; President Pro Tempore-Elect Paul Bookout, Arkansas; Speaker Pro Tem Kris Steele, Oklahoma; and Senator William Wampler, Virginia.  Colleen Cousineau, SLC executive director, and Sujit CanagaRetna, SLC senior fiscal analyst, staffed the delegation.

Day 1 (Sunday)
Day 2 (Monday)
  • The delegation’s appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing consisted of an economic and political briefing by Robert Goldberg, Deputy Chief of Mission; Joe L. Sepulveda, Second Secretary for Environment, Science, Technology and Health; Jeffrey D. Horwitz, Deputy Chief for Policy Analysis and Economic Affairs; Candy Green, External Unit Chief of the Economic Section; Keith M. Anderson, Deputy Chief, Political Section; and Patrick Chen, Vice Chief, Section of Renewable Energy and New Materials.
  • The delegation proceeded to Beijing Central Rail Station to board a high-speed rail train to Tianjin, which reached a top speed of 328 kilometers per hour (or 203 miles per hour).  In Tianjin, delegation members met with officials of the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area’s (TEDA) Investment Promotion Bureau, one of the major economic development zones in China.  A number of foreign businesses operate in the TEDA including American companies such as Motorola, Tyco, IBM, Pepsi and Honeywell.  TEDA officials provided a briefing on the evolution, progress and future plans of the Area.
  • The delegation was hosted to a banquet dinner in Beijing by Ms. Clarie Lo, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation.
Day 3 (Tuesday)
  • During the morning period, the delegation visited the Chinese Ministry of Railways in Beijing for a detailed briefing of China’s high-speed rail plans and efforts.  This briefing was led by Mr. Zheng Jian, Chief Planner, Ministry of Railways; Mr. Liu Lianqing, Director General and Senior Engineer, U.S. Railway Project Working Group, Ministry of Railways; and Mr. Weng Jiayu, Assistant Director General, International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Railways.
  • In the afternoon, the delegation travelled to Tianpu in the outskirts of Beijing to tour the Tianpu Solar Energy Group.  The company is a major manufacturer of various solar power related items including water heaters, photo voltaic panels, flash lights and other renewable energy components.
  • The delegation returned to Beijing to the headquarters of the CPAFFC for a banquet dinner hosted by Mr. Zhou Wenzhong, Vice President, China-U.S. Peoples Friendship Association and former Chinese Ambassador to the United States.
Day 4 (Wednesday)
  • In the morning session, the delegation toured the Great Wall of China, one of the ancient wonders of the world.
  • In the afternoon, the delegation flew to Shanghai.  After landing at Shanghai International Airport, the delegation rode the Maglev train to Longyang Road station in Pudong, a distance of 30 kilometers, or 18.6 miles.  While the Maglev train can reach a maximum operating 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.
  • During the evening, the delegation attended a traditional Chinese acrobatics show.
Day 5 (Thursday)
  • The delegation visited the 2010 World Expo grounds to tour a number of the pavilions.  The U.S. Department of State provided the SLC delegation with VIP access to the United States pavilion, including a special guided tour and introductions while the CPAFFC arranged for VIP access to the China pavilion.  Coincidentally, the day the SLC delegation visited the World Expo was also the day that the 2010 Expo attendance record was established with 631,000 visitors touring the Expo site’s extensive grounds.
Day 6 (Friday)
  • For the second consecutive year, the SLC delegation met with Dr. Yang Jiemian, President of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies.  The Institute, founded in 1960, is a think tank covering international relations between China and the rest of the world.  Discussions between the SLC delegation and Dr. Jiemian covered a broad range of topics of bilateral interest.

September 19, 2010

SLC Delegation to China: Day One
In order to set the stage for the meetings arranged during the week, as well as gain some knowledge about the historic and cultural significance of China today, the delegation began Day 1 with extensive briefings from officials with the CPAFFC and the Foundation, with a focus on the history of Beijing, which included a visit to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

September 21, 2010

SLC Delegation to China: Days Two and Three
On the second and third day of the SLC Delegation to China, participants visited sites around Beijing, including the Tianjin Economic Development Authority, the Ministry of Railways and China's High-Speed Rail system, and a solar facility, and dined with the with former Chinese Ambassador to the United States.

September 23, 2010

SLC Delegation to China: Day Four
On the fourth day of the SLC Delegation to China, participants traveled to Shanghai and experienced that city's MagLev train, the world's fastest commuter train.

September 29, 2010

SLC Leadership Program Concludes
The 2010 Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills concluded in Arkansas following four days of intensive activities and leadership training. For more on the CALS program, click here.

October 7, 2010

SLC Senior Fiscal Analyst Speaks at FDIC Meeting
SLC Senior Fiscal Analyst Sujit CanagaRetna provided insights into state fiscal issues, presenting at the 2010 Economist and Analyst Meeting of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Division of Insurance and Research, in Dallas, Texas. Click here to view the presentation and remarks.

October 14, 2010

Border Legislative Conference Convenes in Sonora
The Border Legislative Conference (BLC), a joint program of the SLC and CSG-WEST, convened its 22nd annual conference in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico. Topics of discussion included planning sustainable development along the U.S.-Mexico border and binational stormwater and wastewater management efforts. Click here for more information about the XXII BLC.

October 25, 2010

States have until November 26 to notify the U.S. Treasury of their intent to use part of the $1.5 billion fund available to help small businesses. An SLC Fiscal Alert with details of this program is available here.

October 26, 2010

SLC and Oklahoma Speaker-Elect Kris Steele

Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) Executive Director Colleen Cousineau and SLC Senior Fiscal Analyst Sujit CanagaRetna visited the Oklahoma State Capitol on October 25-26, 2010, to participate in a series of meetings set up by Oklahoma House Speaker-Elect Kris Steele related to criminal justice reform in the state.  The visit included briefings by Michael Thompson, Executive Director of The Council of State Governments’ Justice Center, to selected members of both the Oklahoma House (including Representative Lee Denney, a participant in CALS Class of 2010, the SLC’s leadership program) and Senate on the Justice Center’s work through the Justice Reinvestment Initiative.  This Initiative, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and The Pew Charitable Trusts, combines various national policy initiatives in nearly a dozen states to increase public safety, reduce spending on corrections, and improve conditions in the neighborhoods to which most people released from prison return.  Along with meetings with Speaker-Elect Steele, SLC staff also met with Senator Brian Bingman and attended a press conference held by Speaker-Elect Steele to announce that Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma had received a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to fund the agency's Amachi program, which provides one-on-one mentoring for children whose parents are in prison.

October 28, 2010

Senator Mark Norris Joins IFTI Board
Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute (IFTI) recently appointed Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris to its executive board. Senator Norris serves as SLC Chair and most-recent past Chair of the SLC Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs Committee. Also a topic in the recent SLC Special Series Report, The Expansion of the Panama Canal and SLC State Ports, Senator Norris emphasized the importance of intermodal transportation in the Southern region. For more information, click here.

Gulf Coast and Atlantic States Regional Task Force Fly-in to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Left to right: Lori Moore, SLC Manager of Operations and Programs; Lonnie Dutreix, A-3 Test Stand Project Manager; Senator David Baria, Mississippi, Gulf Coast and Atlantic States Regional Task Force Presiding Officer; Ken Fern, Jr., SLC Deputy Director; Representative Al Williams, Georgia; Representative Jamie Ison, Alabama; Representative Billy Broomfield, Mississippi, SLC 1st Vice-Chair; and Representative Frances Fredericks, Mississippi

October 29, 2010 | Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Energy & Environment Committee Technical Tour
Mississippi Coast Technical Tour

According to a risk assessment report released by power company Entergy Corporation, the Gulf Coast could see $350 billion in losses over the next 20 years as a result of global warming, stronger and more frequent hurricanes, and environmental damage. Members of the Gulf Coast and Atlantic States Regional Task Force convened for a one-day legislative fly-in to talk with experts regarding natural and environmental disaster preparedness, oil spill damage assessment and recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast. The group of legislators, representing counties along the Gulf of Mexico from SLC member states, were hosted by Task Force presiding officer, Senator David Baria, in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. In addition to hearing from experts in marine science and natural resource damage assessment, the group also toured NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center and the Naval Oceanographic Office, which is the headquarters for airborne, surface and subsurface platforms positioned worldwide, as well as satellites and buoys used to collect data from around the world. The group was briefed on how the information collected from the Center is used in oil spill recovery efforts, as well as hurricane preparedness, response and recovery.


Deepwater Horizon MC 252 Oil Spill, Richard Harrell, P.E., DEE, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (6 MB file size)
Northern Gulf Institute Response to the Deepwater Horizon Incident, Michael Carron, Ph.D., Director, Northern Gulf Institute (1.8 MB file size)
Restoration of the Mississippi Gulf Coast: Recovery from the Deepwater Horizon Spill, Richard Harrell, P.E., DEE, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (1.5 MB file size)

November 1, 2010

SLC States Secure Federal Grants for Rail Projects
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently awarded the second round of federal grants to promote high-speed and intercity passenger rail in 23 states, including seven SLC states (Florida, Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia). Click here to read more about high-speed rail grants received in the South.

November 9, 2010

Representative Brandon Jones Returns from Marshall Memorial Fellowship
A 2009 CALS Participant, Representative Brandon Jones, Mississippi, was nominated by the Southern Legislative Conference of The Council of State Governments to participate in the Marshall Memorial Fellowship (MMF), a program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States that offers emerging American leaders an opportunity for in-depth exploration of European politics, institutions and societies by sending them on a 23-day journey across several countries to meet and speak with their counterparts. See the following links for more information: Representative Jones | MMF

3rd Americas 2020 Summit
Left to right: Senator Eliot Shapleigh, Texas; Senator David Wyatt, Arkansas; and Representative Karen Gaudet St. Germain, Louisiana

November 11-12, 2010 | Dallas, Texas

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

A delegation of eight state legislators from Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, along with SLC staff, attended and provided speakers for the 3rd Americas 2020 Summit held on November 11-12, 2010, in Dallas, Texas. The Americas 2020 Summit brings together policymakers and transportation experts for presentations and discussions about expanding emerging trade corridors; improving mobility and security across international boundaries; and enhancing economic development and global competitiveness. The Americas 2020 Summit enables government and private sector stakeholders from the United States, Mexico and Canada to discuss and identify solutions to enhance the security and economic competitiveness of North America. The Summit also provides an opportunity to hear from expert panelists in the areas of border crossings, infrastructure competitiveness, and secure trade and manufacturing. Moreover, attendees are engaged in dynamic breakout sessions designed to promote dialogue and the identification of concrete solutions to establish a sustainable and competitive North America for the 21st Century. Click here for more information on the Americas 2020 Summit.

November 12, 2010

SLC Legislators Participate in Americas 2020 Summit
Regional legislators from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas joined colleagues from the western region and Mexico to consider issues related to emerging international transportation corridors and challenges involved in creating safe, secure, smart borders. Click here for more information on the Americas 2020 Summit.

December 14, 2010

Innovations recognized from Virginia and West Virginia
The Council of State Governments presented awards to the Virginia Interoperability Picture for Emergency Response (VIPER) from Virginia and the West Virginia Games for Health projects to recognize their innovation and contribution to excellent government practice at a ceremony at the CSG Annual Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. For more on the CSG Innovations program, click here.