SLC Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee

The topics explored by the Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee include a number of critical issues relevant to the progress and advancement of the Southern region. As the Southern states continue to diversify their economies, the Committee has studied a number of issues to further its understanding of this diversification process. In addition, the Committee has focused on exploring the role of the arts as a catalyst for economic growth and the fact that a thriving cultural scenario is an important consideration in the relocation and expansion plans of corporations. Such issues as federal transportation plans and their implications for Southern states; competition among states to attract economic investment; attracting and retaining high-tech investment; promoting Southern state exports; high speed rail in the South; promoting biotechnology are recurring topics.


Jeanie Lauer


Vice Chair

Manly Barton


Past Chair

Jeff Mullis



Roger Moore

Roger Moore
Policy Analyst

Recent Research

Policy Analysis | September 21, 2017

SLC Member State Revenue Increases

Nick Bowman

Despite its official end in 2010, the lingering effects of the Great Recession still are felt in states across the nation. Several SLC member states have been forced to make difficult decisions throughout a sluggish recovery. Alabama, Oklahoma and West Virginia, for example, have faced considerable budget shortfalls and had to cut services and/or raise taxes and fees to balance their budgets. This analysis focuses on statewide revenue enhancements passed by SLC member states in 2016 and 2017; county-level and municipality-level increases have been excluded. Statewide revenue increases adopted in 2015, but implemented in 2016 and 2017, also are included.

Read the full analysis (PDF)

SLC Regional Resource | October 28, 2016

Commuter Rail in the Southern Legislative Conference States: Recent Trends

Sujit CanagaRetna, Fiscal Policy Manager

Commuter trains, a fixture in many American cities since the late 19th century, started losing prominence in public transportation calculations in the 1940s with the ascent of the personal car, while vast improvements in public bus services also accelerated their decline. However, in the last 30 years or so, particularly in the early years of the 21st century, there has been renewed interest in this form of transportation across the country, including in the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) member states. This renewed interest has been propelled for a variety of reasons: commuters choosing rail over cars for convenience; easing traffic congestion; reducing air pollution; promoting economic development; and boosting property values. Consequently, multiple metropolitan regions in SLC member states continue to operate commuter rail systems and expand their operations, even initiating new networks. Given that these initiatives have emerged in transit-starved areas, this increased momentum to introduce or expand commuter rail systems is a direct response to the demands and expectations of businesses and the workforce. Information on recent efforts in the SLC states to enhance the light rail capacities in their transportation plans, an important cog in any multimodal strategy, is detailed in this SLC Regional Resource.

Policy Analysis | September 26, 2016

Autonomous Vehicle Legislation and Trends

Nick Bowman


Autonomous vehicles have the potential to change all aspects of mobility – from driver safety and insurance liability to car ownership and how Americans commute – and could disrupt both public and private transportation as we know it.

As Google, Uber, Tesla, the automobile industry and other organizations continue to make rapid technological advances in driverless cars, it is vital that federal, state and local governments establish policies, laws and regulations that account for this disruptive technology. Of utmost importance is finding a balance between guarding public safety while regulating insurance/liability and simultaneously encouraging investment in research and development of driverless vehicles and their implementation and integration into our transportation system.

Fully automated vehicles (AVs), also referred to as driverless cars or self-driving cars, are capable of sensing their environment and navigating roads without human input. They rely on technologies like GPS, Lidar and radar to read their surroundings and make intelligent decisions about the vehicle’s direction and speed and interaction with other road users, including cyclists and pedestrians.1

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has devised a classification system for autonomous vehicles. The details on this system are: 2

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More SLC Research into Transportation

Comparative Data Report | July 31, 2016


SLC Regional Resource | January 12, 2016

Inland Ports and Waterways in the SLC Member States

Comparative Data Report | July 15, 2015


Policy Analysis | March 9, 2015

Proposed Ridesharing Laws in the States

Policy Analysis | October 29, 2014

SLC State Actions on Suspect Guardrails

Presentation | September 10, 2014

Transportation Funding in the States

Comparative Data Report | July 18, 2014


Policy Analysis | May 14, 2014

Latest State Transportation Funding Proposals

Policy Analysis | March 27, 2014

Highway Trust Fund Balance

SLC Regional Resource | February 27, 2014

Aeronautics in the SLC States: Cleared for Takeoff

Comparative Data Report | July 11, 2013


Policy Analysis | February 4, 2013

State Efforts to Fund Transportation

Comparative Data Report | July 1, 2012


Comparative Data Report | July 1, 2011


Policy Analysis | October 29, 2010

High Speed Rail: Update from the Southern States

Comparative Data Report | July 1, 2010


SLC Special Series Report | June 1, 2010

The Expansion of the Panama Canal and SLC State Ports

Comparative Data Report | December 1, 2008


Comparative Data Report | November 1, 2006


Comparative Data Report | November 1, 2005


Comparative Data Report | November 1, 2004


Presentation | April 30, 2004

Ports in the South

Comparative Data Report | November 1, 2003


Comparative Data Report | November 1, 2002


Presentation | September 23, 2002

Delivering the Goods: Ports in the South

Comparative Data Report | November 1, 2001