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 | June 11, 2018

Distracted Driving Laws in SLC Member States

In recent years, states across the South have enacted laws to mitigate distracted driving caused by the proliferation of cell phones and other portable electronic devices. The extent to which the laws impact drivers varies by state, though there are similarities across the region. Fourteen of 15 SLC member states, for example, prohibit all drivers from texting while driving and one, Missouri, prohibits texting by all drivers under the age of 21. Similarly, 10 of the 15 states prohibit all usage of wireless communication devices by novice drivers, generally defined as drivers under 18 years old who hold restricted licenses. Most states in the region have not implemented statewide bans on hand-held devices; however, several states have prohibited the use of hand-held devices in certain areas, such as designated school zones. Only Georgia and West Virginia have banned hand-held devices for all drivers.

Penalties vary widely across the region. Most states have implemented a tiered system whereby drivers face increasingly severe penalties for each subsequent offense. Eight states have fees that do not surpass $100 per violation, while another five states have fees that range between $100 and $300. Two states, Arkansas and Louisiana, permit fees up to $500 and $1,000, respectively, for repeat offenders.

Alabama does not have a statewide hand-held device ban for drivers. However, all drivers are prohibited from texting while driving, and novice drivers – defined as 16- and 17-year-old drivers who hold a restricted driver’s license – are prohibited from using all wireless communication devices while operating a vehicle. Drivers who violate the texting ban are subject to a $25 fine for the first offense, $50 fine for the second offense and a $75 fine for each subsequent offense. Novice drivers who use a mobile device while operating a vehicle are required to hold a restricted driver’s license for an additional six months or until they are 18 years old.

Code of Ala. § 32-5A-350; § 32-6-7.2

Continue Reading

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.

More SLC Research into Transportation

Policy Analysis | September 26, 2016

Autonomous Vehicle Legislation and Trends

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