2012 SLC News and Updates

January 3, 2012

SLC beginning 2012 member state visits
In an effort to provide information to legislators and staff, as well as better familiarize the SLC staff with Conference members and their needs, several policy staff are visiting SLC member state capitols in January. Look for SLC staff at the Georgia capitol on January 11-12, Frankfort on 24-25, and Jefferson City on January 31 and February 1. Further visits are upcoming in February, March and April.

January 13, 2012

Southern Legislators Participate in National Ag Conference
Southern state legislators were well-represented at the 11th Annual Legislative Ag Chairs Summit, hosted by State Ag and Rural Leaders this year in Washington, D.C. The national convening highlights crucial ag and rural development issues for states. At this year's meeting, Georgia Senator Bill Heath was re-elected President of the group, with Missouri Senator Brian Munzlinger and Mississippi Representative David Gibbs both being elected to serve on the organization's board. More on the summit and SARL is available here.

January 19, 2012

SLC Releases Regional Resource, Municipal Bonds: Trends in 2011
The Southern Legislative Conference has released its latest Regional Resource, Municipal Bonds: Trends in 2011. The Resource examines how the municipal bond market fared in 2011, if fears expressed by certain experts regarding widespread bond defaults were realized, if investors shed their holdings in municipal bonds and fled to other asset categories and a number of related topics. To read the full report, click here.

January 23, 2012

SLC Senior Fiscal Analyst Presents at 2012 Alabama Legislative Symposium
Sujit CanagaRetna, SLC Senior Fiscal Analyst, traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, to present on State Retirement Systems: Recent Trends at the 2012 Alabama Legislative Symposium for Education. Click here to view the presentation and here for a copy of the remarks.

February 10, 2012

Five Southern States Awarded NCLB Waivers
In an announcement February 9, President Barack Obama awarded 10 states—five from the South (Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Tennessee)—waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The states will receive relief from requirements in the law in exchange for implementing reforms around standards, teacher effectiveness and accountability. More information is available here.

March 13, 2012

South Continues to lead in Agriculture
On National Ag Day, March 13, the Southern Legislative Conference recognizes the contributions of the agriculture sector to our economy and the life of the region. An overview of agriculture in the South is available here.

April 16, 2012

Registration now available for the 66th Annual Meeting of the SLC
The 66th Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference will take place in Charleston, West Virginia, July 28 through August 1. Registration and housing information is now available.

April 27, 2012

States Move Toward Deregulated Tuition
Several states have deregulated the tuition process at public colleges and universities, providing institutions with tuition flexibility conditional upon meeting productivity goals. View recent research on this topic from the SLC here.

May 25, 2012

Annual Meeting Update: Discounted Registration and Host State Events
Discounted registration for the 66th Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference in Charleston, West Virginia, is available until June 25. Click here to register. Also, check out details and registration for spouse, guest and youth activities sponsored by the West Virginia host state committee here.

June 1, 2012

SLC Delegation Visits Alberta Oil Sands | May 29–31, 2012
In a visit designed to facilitate dialogue and prompt greater understanding of energy relations between states belonging to the Southern Office of The Council of State Governments (CSG), the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), and Canada, a delegation of state officials, led by current SLC Energy and Environment Chair Representative Chuck Martin, Georgia, recently traveled to Edmonton and Fort McMurray, Alberta.  The delegation included Representative Kurt Wallace, Alabama; Representative Clay Ford, Florida; Representative Angela Cockerham, Mississippi; Senator Bill Ketron, Tennessee; and Representative Stefani Carter, Texas. Click here for further details and here for photos from the visit.

June 14, 2012

Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Workshop Registration Available
The 66th Annual Meeting offers attendees an opportunity for two hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit for participating in a complimentary workshop featuring presentations on federal and state relations in the United States, including discussion on the effects of recent and upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Participants MUST pre-register for the class here.

June 20, 2012

Homer Hickam to Speak at the SLC Annual Meeting
Homer Hickam, author of Rocket Boys and an accomplished rocket scientist, will speak at the Opening Plenary of the 66th Annual Meeting of the SLC on July 30. Hickam's inspiring story serves as a welcome message of hope and success through adversity. Meeting registration and more information is available here.

June 28, 2012

Transportation Committee Chairs of SLC legislatures participate in Washington, D.C., Fly-In
A delegation comprised of Southern legislature’s transportation committee chairs attended The Council of State Governments Transportation Policy Academy and Washington, D.C., Fly-In between June 26 and 28, 2012. The event allowed the legislators to receive high-level briefings on the most pressing transportation issues of the day, as well as meet with members of Congress and U.S. Department of Transportation officials to express the Southern perspective on how these issues impact the states. Further information is available here.

June 28, 2012

The Stafford Loan Crisis in Perspective
Last-minute Congressional action seems poised to stop interest rates on subsidized federal Stafford loans from doubling, but the furor over the deadline has obscured some of the underlying issues that plague higher education access and affordability. A recent Ednotes on the Issues from the Southern Legislative Conference recaps the Stafford Loan crisis and puts it in perspective against the overall higher education financing discussion. You can read the post here.

July 19, 2012

SLC Releases Fiscal Alert on Public Pensions
The Southern Legislative Conference has released an SLC Fiscal Alert titled Public Pensions: Emerging Trends addressing the significant challenges still faced by public pension systems, a trend that has continued for more than a decade. While public pension difficulties alone would not be a destabilizing force on the economy, the fact that every other element of our nation’s retirement architecture also faces complex challenges requires the urgent attention of policymakers at all levels of government. To view the full SLC Fiscal Alert, please click here.

July 28, 2012

Southern Legislative Conference convenes in Charleston, West Virginia
Southern state legislators are convening in Charleston, West Virginia, the home state of Speaker Rick Thompson, chair of the Southern Legislative Conference. The 66th annual meeting of the SLC brings together Southern lawmakers to examine and discuss issues of critical importance to the region and the nation. The meeting will run until August 1, 2012. Click here for further details.

July 28, 2012

SLC Releases 2012 Comparative Data Reports
Prepared under the auspices of the SLC Fiscal Affairs & Government Operations Committee, annual Comparative Data Reports track a multitude of revenue sources and appropriations levels in Southern states and serve as a useful tool to legislators and legislative staff alike as they determine their own state spending. The reports are prepared by the legislative research agencies of Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and West Virginia. To view the reports, visit the SLC publications page and select Fiscal Affairs & Government Operations, Comparative Data Reports or 2012.

July 29, 2012

CSG Washington, D.C. office director presents at SLC annual meeting
Chris Whatley, CSG's Washington, D.C. office director, presented "The Decision and the States" at the Legislative Fiscal Plenary of the 66th SLC annual meeting in Charleston, West Virginia. Mr. Whatley's comments provided several practical insights into the new environment created by the recent Supreme Court ruling on federal funding of state Medicaid programs. Mr. Whatley also discussed state versus federally administered healthcare exchanges. To view the presentation, click here.

July 31, 2012

SLC/Mark Norris Campaign Against Hunger sees 2nd year of success
In correlation with a closing plenary with Jennifer Garner, Artist Ambassador for Save the Children U.S. Programs, and Mark Kennedy Shriver, Vice President and Managing Director of U.S. Programs for Save the Children, the SLC/Mark Norris Campaign Against Hunger at the 66th Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference brought together SLC participants to assemble 20,000 meals to be distributed to families in West Virginia. Click here to view photos from the event.

July 31, 2012

Speaker Mike Hubbard elected chair of the SLC
On Tuesday, July 31, Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard was elected to serve as chair of the Southern Legislative Conference during the 66th Annual Meeting of the SLC in Charleston, West Virginia. Alongside Speaker Hubbard, Representative Keith Ingram of Arkansas will serve as SLC chair elect and Speaker David Ralston of Georgia will serve as SLC vice chair. Click here to read coverage from the Montgomery Advertiser.

September 7, 2012

SLC Releases Update on the Panama Canal Expansion
The Southern Legislative Conference today released an update on the expansion of the Panama Canal and its effects on the volume of trade reaching Gulf and East Coast ports in the United States. The expansion project not only will ensure the Canal’s dominance as one of the most critical global transportation linchpins, it also will strengthen the linkages between Asia, the United States and Latin America. Click here to read the full report and here for a photo gallery, courtesy of the ports of Charleston, Savannah and Virginia.

September 17, 2012

SLC Annual Meeting Summary Report Now Available
Summary reports from the 66th Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference are now available. Please click here for individual committee summaries or here for the full meeting report.

September 17, 2012

Southern Transportation Leaders Travel to Panama for Tour and Briefings on Panama Canal Expansion
A delegation of seven state transportation leaders from six Southern states traveled to Panama for high-level briefings on the Panama Canal expansion project.  The delegation agenda was designed to reinforce the need for Southern ports to continue essential infrastructure enhancements to accommodate the significantly larger vessels and expanded cargo volumes expected to arrive after the completion of the Panama Canal expansion. Click here for a press release for the delegation and here to view photos during the visit.

October 5, 2012

SLC Senior Fiscal Analyst Presents at NASBO Fall Meeting
Sujit CanagaRetna, SLC senior fiscal analyst, discussed recent economic development trends at the National Association of State Budget Officers 2012 Fall Meeting on October 5, 2012. This presentation – focusing on a macro-level snapshot of the U.S. economy with a focus on the states, platforms for economic growth, “bright sparks” on the state economic landscape, job training, and unemployment insurance trends – is available here, with the remarks available here.

October 11, 2012

SLC Complimentary Webinar on Higher Education Finance
The SLC is hosting a free webinar on reforming higher education tinance through the use of an outcomes-based funding formula October 23, from 2-3 pm Eastern Time. Registration and more information is available here.

October 19, 2012

SLLC Supreme Court Preview Webinar Posted
Lisa Soronen, SLLC Executive Director, discusses the most important Supreme Court cases accepted so far affecting state and local government, including four environmental cases; four Fourth Amendment search cases; a Chevron deference case; and a voter registration case out of Arizona; the Court’s likely big grants (same sex marriage, constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Fair Housing Act disparate impact claims); and a challenge to the University of Texas-Austin’s affirmative action program. Click here to view the recording.

October 23, 2012

More than 40 states made significant changes to their retirement plans in an effort to improve their funding levels. A number of Southern states have been at the forefront of reform and have enacted changes to stabilize the fiscal position of their pension plans. The SLC will host a webinar on pension reform in three key Southern states on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, 2-3 p.m. EST. Click here for more information and to register.

November 29, 2012

SLC Legislative Leaders Travel to Germany to Enhance Economic Cooperation
Designed to enhance economic cooperation and greater understanding between states belonging to the Southern Office of The Council of State Governments (CSG), the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), and Germany, a delegation of SLC state legislative leaders traveled to Germany on November 11-17, 2012. The SLC delegation, led by 2011 SLC chair, Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, also included Alabama Speaker Pro Tem Victor Gaston, North Carolina Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and South Carolina House Ways and Means Committee Chair, Representative Brian White. Click here for more details.