2013 SLC News and Updates

January 3, 2013

Complimentary SLC Webinar Addressing Recent Meningitis Outbreak
On January 3, 2013, the Southern Legislative Conference, CSG's Southern Office, hosted a complimentary webinar focusing on the recent meningitis outbreak and the ensuing federal and state responses. The disease has affected more than 540 people across 19 states and caused 36 deaths. The federal government and state health departments have begun assessing what measures can be taken to avoid future outbreaks, such as strengthening efforts to regulate compounding pharmacies and by coordinating initiatives to share information and strategies. Click here for more information.

Delegation to Canada
Delegation to Canada

February 28 - March 1, 2013

Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee Delegation
Trade Relations with Canada

A delegation of state legislative leaders from four Southern states (Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Mississippi) recently participated in a Border Study Tour of Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The Border Study Tour, which was organized and sponsored by the government of Canada (through the Consulate General of Canada’s office in Atlanta, Georgia) and the Atlanta-based Southern Office of The Council of State Governments (CSG), the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), was designed to educate state legislators about the U.S.-Canada economic partnership and the significant economic benefits that proposed border initiatives will have for the SLC states. The delegation of SLC state legislative leaders included Representative Barry Mask, Alabama; Representative John Merrill, Alabama; Representative Ron Stephens, Georgia; Senator Ernie Harris, Kentucky; Senator Christian McDaniel, Kentucky; and Representative Deborah Dixon, Mississippi. Not only is the United States – Canada trade relationship the largest and most integrated trading relationship in the world, Canada is the top export destination for 35 states, including 11 of the 15 SLC member states. Importantly, Canada is the top export destination for Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Mississippi, all states represented on the Border Study Tour. In 2012, SLC state exports to Canada amounted to more than $83 billion, a massive amount and an expansion of nearly 10 percent over the previous year.

The Border Study Tour began at the 25th Annual U. S. – Canada Automotive Dinner in Dearborn, Michigan. The delegation heard from Mr. Joe Hinrichs, executive vice president and president of the Americas, Ford Motor Company. Mr. Hinrichs detailed the turnaround of the American auto industry since the Great Recession, highlighting the tremendous growth potential of the industry at home and abroad.

The delegation traveled to Windsor, Ontario, via the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel for a briefing by the Canada Border Services Agency on U. S. – Canada security cooperation and Canadian Immigration procedures. This crossing is the busiest border crossing in North America. While in Windsor, the delegation toured NARMCO, a high quality auto parts manufacturing supplier to the North American auto industry. NARMCO also has a production facility in Gadsden, Alabama, supplying auto parts to the Mercedes, Kia and Hyundai auto assembly plants in the SLC states. NARMCO officials briefed the delegation on border/trade issues, including the importance of expanding the border crossing capacity to better integrate North American supply chains. Briefings then focused on the importance of the expansion of the proposed new International Trade Crossing that will facilitate and enhance more efficient transportation across this vital land trade corridor. On the U. S. side, briefings from the U. S. Customs and Border Protection agency followed, detailing the operations at the Ambassador Bridge crossing trade corridor.

Meetings with Mr. Roy Norton, Consul General of Canada; Michigan State Representative Rashida Tlaib; and Mr. Fran Erwin, Magna International, the largest and most diversified automotive supplier in the world with several large operations in SLC states, concluded the study tour.

March 4, 2013

Complimentary SLC Webinar on State Efforts to Enhance Medicaid Program Integrity
The Southern Legislative Conference hosted a complimentary webinar on Friday, March 15, addressing some of the specific strategies states are adopting or pursuing to improve the integrity of their Medicaid program at every level. The scope of Medicaid has broadened dramatically in recent years, a trend attributed to the expansion of eligibility guidelines, growth of the eligible population, increased utilization and a marked increase in the services covered. The webinar featured presentations on reform efforts in Kentucky and Georgia and from the Pew Center on the States Health Care Spending Project. Visit the SLC webinars page for further information.

March 20, 2013

In Memoriam Florida Representative Clay Ford
Florida Representative Clay Ford, an active member of the SLC Energy & Environment Committee, passed away Monday, March 18, following a long battle with cancer. Representative Ford, an attorney, began public service in the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1975, and was a delegate to the Arkansas Constitutional Convention in 1978. After relocating to Florida, he served on the Gulf Breeze City Council from 1990 to 2007, and as Mayor Pro Tempore from 2000 to 2007. Representative Ford was elected to the Florida Legislature in 2007 and served as Chair of the Energy and Utilities Subcommittee of the Regulatory Affairs Committee. He is survived by his wife, Carol Ann, three children — Clay, David and Doug — and nine grandchildren.

March 21, 2013

Deadline for CSG Henry Toll Fellowship Program Approaching (April 15, 2013)
The CSG Toll Fellowship Program is one of the nation’s premier leadership development programs for state government officials. Each year, Toll Fellows brings top state government officials from all three branches to Lexington, Kentucky, for an intensive six-day, five-night “intellectual boot camp.” The program’s agenda includes a lineup of dynamic speakers and sessions designed to stimulate personal assessment and growth, while providing priceless networking and relationship-building opportunities. Visit the CSG Toll Fellowship Program website for further information.

March 25, 2013

Apply now for the SLC STAR Program
The Southern Legislative Conference is accepting submissions for its newly formed State Transformation in Action Recognition (STAR), a regional adaptation of the former CSG Innovations Awards. The STAR program identifies and promotes innovative ideas and programs from the Southern region’s best problem solvers: the states themselves. The SLC welcomes applications from a wide array of state agencies, departments, and institutions operating within the executive, legislative, and judicial governmental branches. Click here for more information.

May 3, 2013

Complimentary Webinar on the Food Safety Modernization Act
The regional offices of The Council of State Governments and the State Ag and Rural Leaders group hosted a complimentary webinar on May 2, 2013, investigating recent developments as the US Food and Drug Administration moves to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, including regulations on produce and manufactured food, the implications new food safety regimens for farmers, ranchers and food producers, and how the changing food safety landscape affects the states. More details are available here.

May 9, 2013

SLC Releases 2013 Update on the Panama Canal Expansion
The Southern Legislative Conference recently released a 2013 update for its series of publications examining the effect of the upcoming Panama Canal expansion for ports on the East and Gulf Coasts. The expansion is perhaps the most transformative global transportation project now in progress. Upon completion in 2014, the Canal will facilitate an even greater flow of trade between Asia and the Americas and will substantially impact the volume of trade reaching ports in SLC member states. Click here to read to the full report.

May 13, 2013

Complimentary SLC Webinar on Aging Inmates | Thursday, May 30, 2 p.m. EDT
The Southern Legislative Conference will host a complementary webinar titled Aging Inmates: The Continual 'Graying' of America's Prisons on Thursday, May 30, 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. This webinar will explore the graying of America’s prisons, with a look at how states can save money by consolidating elderly inmate populations, implementing early release for terminally ill or otherwise innocuous elderly prisoners, and implementing general policies that can limit victimization inside prison and address recidivism of elderly offenders upon release. Click here to register.

May 24, 2013

National Conference Call on the 2013 Farm Bill
The Agriculture Committees in both chambers of Congress have approved Farm Bill legislation, shifting the discussion on the five year renewal of the legislation to the floor. The current Farm Bill was extended last fall after efforts to pass the legislation stalled in the House, establishing a deadline of September 30th for renewal. The first of a series of complimentary conference calls on the Farm Bill, hosted by the regional offices of The Council of State Governments and the State Ag and Rural Leaders, took place on Wednesday, May 29th. Click here for more information.

Delegation to Alberta Oil Sands

Attending SLC Members: SLC Energy and Environment Vice Chair Representative Bill Sandifer; Representative Rafael Anchia, Texas; Senator Terry Burton, Mississippi; Representative Doug Funderburk, Missouri; Representative Poncho Nevarez, Texas; Representative Lynn Smith, Georgia; Representative Weldon Watson, Oklahoma; and Senator Eddie Joe Williams, Arkansas.

June 11-13, 2013 | Alberta, Canada

Energy & Environment Committee Delegation
Alberta Oil Sands

On June 11-13, 2013, a delegation of eight SLC Energy & Environment Committee members attended a program on oil sands development, in Edmonton and Fort McMurray, Alberta, coordinated by the SLC, the Albertan government, and the Offices of the Consulate General of Canada in Atlanta and Dallas. At some 176 billion barrels of proven reserves, the oil sands are one of the largest and most important energy resources in the world. The study tour highlighted the regulatory framework and cutting-edge technologies that are both in place and under development. The visit included tours of both mining and in situ projects operated by Suncor and Devon Energy, respectively, as well as oil sands reclamation sites.

The program also included discussions with Canadian government and industry officials, including presentations by the Alberta Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation and the Alberta Energy Regulator. Discussions revolved around Canadian-U.S. energy relations; economy and job creation; Keystone XL pipeline; environmental protection; and advances in energy technology. The visit concluded with a tour and program at CanmetENERGY, an oil sands energy research and technology development project. The objective of the tour was to enable participants to broaden their awareness of the oil sands resource, its increasing contribution to North American energy security, and to see first-hand the steps being taken to meet the environmental challenges of this energy source.

Attending SLC Members: SLC Energy and Environment Vice Chair Representative Bill Sandifer; Representative Rafael Anchia, Texas; Senator Terry Burton, Mississippi; Representative Doug Funderburk, Missouri; Representative Poncho Nevarez, Texas; Representative Lynn Smith, Georgia; Representative Weldon Watson, Oklahoma; and Senator Eddie Joe Williams, Arkansas.

June 12, 2013

National Conference Call on the 2013 Farm Bill | June 27, 11 am ET
A week after the Senate approved legislation for reauthorization of the Farm Bill, the House surprised most observers by rejecting its version of the legislation 195-234. The bill, which was expected to pass narrowly, drew opposition from both sides of the partisan divide for cuts to nutrition and other programs, either because the cuts were too large or not large enough. With the House bill dead, the path forward for reauthorization of the Farm Bill (which expires at the end of September) is unclear.
To sort out what happened and where Congress will go with this critical piece of legislation, join the regional offices of The Council of State Governments and the State Ag and Rural Leaders group for a second national conference call on the Farm Bill, Thursday, June 27, at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. To register, please email Hans Poschman at hposchman@csg.org for call-in information.

June 14, 2013

Complimentary SLC Webinar on Transportation Funding | Friday, June 14, 2 p.m. EDT
The Southern Legislative Conference hosted a complementary webinar titled States Act to Bolster Transportation Funding on Friday, June 14. This SLC webinar featured the latest developments from several Southern states and provided an opportunity for webinar participants to learn more about some of these strategies. Participants were able to direct questions to the legislators that spearheaded these vital transportation reforms in their states. Click here for more information.

SLC Medicaid Program Integrity Seminar

June 23-24, 2013 | Atlanta, Georgia

Human Services & Public Safety Committee Workshop
Medicaid Program Integrity

A group of 10 SLC lawmakers assembled in Atlanta, Georgia, June 23 – 24, for a Medicaid Program Integrity Seminar. The event featured successful strategies for addressing Medicaid fraud, abuse, and payment errors, which cumulatively amount to more than $11 billion in lost state revenue, every year. The program included a panel discussion on program integrity “best practices,” featuring presentations by Inspector General Robert Finlayson of the Georgia Department of Community Health; Mindy Chavanelle, program specialist with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Improvement and Integrity; Dennis Garvey, director of the Program Integrity Division in the Bureau of TennCare; and John Kopp, Missouri assistant attorney general and deputy director of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

The program also featured an overview of federal Medicaid activities by Chris Whatley, director of CSG’s Washington D.C. Office, as well as a presentation by Kavita Choudhry, manager of the Pew and MacArthur Initiative on State Health Care Spending, which has catalogued state policies and programs throughout the nation to address Medicaid fraud and abuse. The program was facilitated by Senator Emmett Hanger, Virginia, current SLC Human Services and Public Safety Committee Chair. Participants included Representative Sharon Cooper, Georgia, immediate past chair of the SLC Human Services and Public Safety Committee; Representative John Burris and Senators Jonathan Dismang and David Sanders, Arkansas; Representatives Marilyn Avila and Justin Burr and Senator Ralph Hise, North Carolina; and Senators Evan Jenkins and Ron Stollings, West Virginia.

July 11, 2013

SLC Releases Report on Southern States' Workforce Development Programs
The Southern Legislative Conference has released its latest Regional Resource, Workforce Development in the SLC States. The report examines the efforts made by Southern states to create a skilled workforce with the capacity to staff a broad spectrum of positions in the resurgent manufacturing sector. Click here to read the publication.

July 26, 2013

SLC Releases 2013 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. Reports are available for Corrections, Education, Medicaid, Revenue, and Transportation.

September 4, 2013

SLC Accepting Applications for the 2013 CALS Program
The Southern Legislative Conference has begun accepting applications for the 2013 Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills (CALS) program. The program provides leadership development in the areas of communication, conflict resolution, consensus building and critical decision making for current and emerging leaders to better prepare them for increased leadership responsibilities. More information can be found here.

September 4, 2013

SLLC Offers Complimentary Supreme Court Preview Webinar | October 22, 2013
The State & Local Legal Center will host a complimentary Supreme Court Preview Webinar at 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, on Tuesday, October 22, 2013. The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing numerous cases of interest to state and local government during its October Term 2013 involving issues such as prayer at a town board meeting, banning affirmative action at public universities, and buffer-zones surrounding reproductive health clinics. Registration is available here.

Panama Canal Expansion Project
More Photos

September 11-13, 2013

Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee Technical Tour
Panama Canal Expansion Project

A delegation of state transportation leaders from eight Southern states, led by Senator Keith M. Ingram, the 2013/2014 chair of The Council of State Governments’ (CSG) Southern Office, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), recently traveled to Panama for high level briefings on the Panama Canal expansion project. Along with the current SLC chair Senator Ingram, the delegation included Senator Gerald Allen, Alabama, Chair, Senate Committee on Commerce, Transportation and Utilities; Representative Ron Stephens, Georgia, Chair, House Committee on Economic Development and Tourism; Senator Gary Smith, Louisiana, Member, Senate Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works; Senator Warren Daniel, North Carolina, Co-Chair, Senate Committee on Transportation; Representative W. Brian White, South Carolina, Chair, House Committee on Ways and Means; Senator Mark Norris, Tennessee, Senate Majority Leader and 2010/2011 Chair of the SLC and 2013/2014 Chair-Elect of The Council of State Governments (CSG); and, Delegate S. Chris Jones, Virginia, House of Delegates. 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.

For more than a decade, the SLC has focused on the critical role played by Southern ports not only in the economic calculations of the Southern region but also the nation as a whole. The decision by the government of Panama to proceed with the $5.25 billion expansion project has been touted as one of the most transformative global transportation projects currently in progress. Upon completion in 2014, the Panama Canal will facilitate an even greater flow of trade between Asia and the Americas and substantially impact the volume of trade reaching Gulf and Atlantic Coast ports in the United States. Arkansas is an SLC state that is expected to be impacted directly by the increase in cargo and vessel traffic in the aftermath of the Panama Canal expansion. In 2012, total U.S. exports to Panama amounted to $9.8 billion and Arkansas’ exports totaled more than $9 million.

Scheduled meetings of the delegation began with a series of briefings and a tour of the Panama Canal Authority. At the Miraflores Center, the delegation received a detailed briefing on the expansion effort and its critical importance in the effective and efficient transfer of cargo between Asia and the Americas. Officials with the Panama Canal Authority elaborated on the role of the Canal’s expansion in the context of surging global trade and the contemporary shipping industry trend of deploying substantially larger vessels to take advantage of economies of scale. Also included on the technical tour was a visit and further briefings on the operation of the control tower of the current locks.

The SLC delegation met with officials at the U.S. Embassy in Panama for a briefing on U.S. – Panama political, economic and social linkages, which included reference to the impact of the expansion of the Panama Canal and the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Panama that was signed into law in October 2011. The briefings at the U.S. Embassy were carried out by Mr. James Perez, Economic Counselor and Mr. G. Nar Dao, Economic Officer. The delegation visited the offices of the American Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Panama (AmCham Panama) for briefings and dialogue on the potential for expanding the economic and financial relationships between Panama and corporate and business interests in the SLC states. Providing information on these topics to the SLC delegation were Mr. C.E. Maurice Belanger, Executive Director of AmCham Panama, Ms. María Eugenia Fonseca, Mr. Hector Aguilar and Mr. Robert St. John, the 2013 President, Secretary and Director of AmCham Panama, respectively.

The SLC delegation’s final agenda item was a meeting with Mr. Roberto Roy, Minister of the Panama Canal and the Chairman of the Board of the Panama Canal Authority.

September 27, 2013

SLC Seeking Qualified Individuals for Position of Administrative Assistant
The Southern Legislative Conference, Southern Office of The Council of State Governments, is seeking qualified individuals to support the general operation of the office and provide direct support to the SLC executive director and the manager of operations and programs. The deadline for applications is October 26, 2013. Click here for more information.

October 1, 2013

SLC Publishes Summaries of 2013 STAR Program Finalists
The SLC has published summaries addressing the Kentucky Veterans' Connect Program and the Virginia Step Down Program for Administrative Segregation, winners of the 2013 SLC STAR Program. The programs were selected by a panel of of government policy experts as models of innovation in state governments for issues encountered throughout the Southern region. More information is available on the SLC STAR Program home page.

October 15, 2013

CSG Webinar on Overcoming Social Barriers to Postsecondary Education | Wednesday, Oct. 23
Attending college is no easy task, especially for nontraditional and first-generation students. While attaining a postsecondary degree is tough for everyone, these students face an even bigger uphill battle to completing their degrees. As states work to increase the number of residents with college degrees, anticipating and meeting the needs of nontraditional and first-generation students are essential steps. This webinar will focus on attracting and retaining nontraditional and first-generation students by removing several social barriers to success. Register here.

October 17, 2013

SLC Hosts Complimentary SLC Webinar on Impact of Renewable Energy | October 17, 2013
The Southern Legislative Conference hosted a complimentary webinar on the impact of renewable energy in Southern economies on October 17, 2013. The webinar explored some of the advances made by Southern states in recent years, ways in which public and private entities have worked together to promote renewable energy projects, and insights into the economic dynamics on the Southern landscape. Click here for further details.

October 18, 2013

SLC Hosts Complimentary SLC Webinar on Wind Pool Insurance | October 18, 2013
The Southern Legislative Conference hosted a complimentary webinar on wind pool insurance on October 18, 2013. The webinar covered measures taken by Southern states to provide homeowners with wind pool insurance coverage at affordable rates; trends and best practices; and how international developments impact premiums in the United States. Click here for more information.

October 24, 2013

CSG Webinar on Private Sector, University and Government Collaboration | November 13, 2013
The Council of State Governments is hosting a complementary webinar at 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time), Wednesday, November 13, 2013. The webinar will discuss recent trends at both the university and state levels to implement systems that can be used by academics, industry researchers and state economic development agencies to facilitate collaboration at the statewide level. Click here to register.

October 29, 2013

SLC Releases Research on Assesments for Common Core State Standards
The SLC has released recent research into the status of states' adoption of assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). States are reviewing the cost, practicality, frequency, and number of new consortium-crafted assessments aligned to the CCSS. Most states nationally will implement one of two Consortia assessments next year. Among those states considering a third path, as of fall 2013, only Alabama had selected a test. Click here to read the full release.

October 30, 2013

In Memoriam Representative Calvin Hill of Georgia
The Southern Legislative Conference marks the passing of State Representative Calvin Hill of Georgia, an alumni of the SLC 2007 Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills (CALS) Program. Representative Hill was elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 2002. A professional entrepreneur and a Marine trained in engineering and demolition, Representative Hill moved to Georgia in 1986 and served two terms as mayor of Ball Ground in the early 1990s.

November 1, 2013

SLC Releases Research on Wind Pool Insurance
The SLC has released recent research addressing state efforts to provide homeowners with wind pool insurance coverage at affordable rates. Given the growing importance of this issue in the region, the SLC coordinated a webinar to feature presentations on what some of these measures are, the broad trends associated with wind pool insurance, best practices and how international developments impact premiums here in the United States. The complete research brief is available here.

November 4, 2013

SLC Webinar featuring National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Deborah Hersman
At 2:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, on Thursday, December 5, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman will be a panelist on an upcoming SLC webinar on distracted driving.  The complimentary webinar will feature panelists addressing the latest research on the potential impact of using devices while driving, state legislative initiatives to hone distracted driving laws and updates on efforts at the federal level to reduce distracted driving accidents.  Professor David Strayer, a national expert on research related to distracted driving, is also on the program.  Click here to register.

November 7, 2013

SLC Hosting Complimentary Webinar on Human Trafficking | Thursday, November 21, 2013
The Southern Legislative Conference will host a complimentary webinar at 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. EST, Thursday, November 21, 2013, addressing steps taken by Southern states to combat human trafficking, such as setting up task forces to assess the extent of this insidious practice, and adopting policies that encourage victims to come forward, educating law enforcement personnel, and increasing penalties for individuals involved in these crimes. Click here to register.

November 11, 2013

Virginia Senator Visits South Korea; Communicates SLC Policy Position
On a recent mission to South Korea, Virginia Senator David Marsden presented Korea International Trade Association Chairman Han Duck-soo with a copy of the 2013 SLC Policy Position Encouraging the Southern United States-South Korean Economic Council. Senator Marsden, reflecting on his visit, noted that the region can establish a tremendous trade advantage by understanding and acknowledging the issues and concern that are paramount to them. For more on Senator Marsden’s visit, click here.

November 15, 2013

CSG Regional Offices Host National Conference Call on the 2013 Farm Bill | December 4, 1 pm ET
House and Senate negotiators have been at work on the long overdue renewal of the Farm Bill since late October. The regional offices of The Council of State Governments and State Ag and Rural Leaders will host a complimentary conference call on the Farm Bill, Wednesday, December 4th at 1:00 pm ET. To register, please email Hans Poschman for call-in information.

November 19, 2013

SLC Releases Report on Tire Manufacturing in the South
While the economic impact of the automobile sector in the South has been reviewed and scrutinized extensively in recent years, there has been less fanfare about a burgeoning sector in the region: the growing importance of tire manufacturing in the SLC states. This SLC Regional Resource examines how some of the world's largest tire manufacturers are locating, relocating or expanding their operations in the South. Click here for the full report.

December 9, 2013

Webinar Resources for Distracted Driving and Human Trafficking Now Available
The Southern Legislative Conference hosted two complimentary webinars on human trafficking and distracted driving on November 25 and December 5, respectively, featuring national experts on the regional issues. Archived resources are now available for these recent online programs, and other critical topics, on the SLC webinars page.