Archive for February, 2012

#StatesideChat w/ @MarkShurtleff

February 17, 2012

By @StatesideAssoc

Stateside Chat is a new and exciting forum that was rolled-out earlier this week. The foundation of this new feature is a high-level conversation between Stateside’s Issue Managers and elected officials, state and local government affairs practitioners or other leaders in our industry. This content will be incorporated into our posts as a regular feature that will present a new and unique perspective with each conversation.

The first-ever Stateside Chat (used here as the Twitter hashtag for the forum, #StatesideChat) happened Monday afternoon between Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (@MarkShurtleff) and Stateside President Constance Campanella. This initial #StatesideChat was setup as a means of introducing the medium and was met with an amazing response. Not only was the Attorney General gracious with his time, he was direct and thorough in answering the questions posed through the @StatesideAssoc Twitter account. And, he was immediate and direct at responding to questions from journalists, citizens, constituents and others who had joined the conversation.

Twitter makes a great forum for discussing policy and politics with State elected leaders because of the benefits it offers. Not only can any of the participants jump into the conversation from wherever they are using a computer, tablet or smart phone, but anyone is welcome to watch and/or participate. Not only that, but the forum provides a lasting written record of what was discussed and can be accessed at any time.

These #StatesideChat dialogues will evolve over time as we find the best ways to highlight the unique insights, talents and experiences our guests will bring to the table. As a means of facilitating conversations amongst stakeholders in our industry, we want #StatesideChat to be as fruitful and relevant as possible for clients, other friends of Stateside Associates and interested members of the public.

Let us know who you’d like to see featured as a guest in an upcoming #StatesideChat by sending us a Tweet @StatesideAssoc or an email to gg@stateside.com.

What follows is the majority of the conversation, reordered and lightly edited to maintain the flow of the conversation for the reader. You can see this conversation in its entirety by searching Twitter for the hashtag #StatesideChat. Our next #StatesideChat will be held with the Minority Leader of the Arizona House of Representatives Chad Campbell (@RepCampbell) on March 12.

We thank Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (@MarkShurtleff) for being so generous with his time, and for his commitment to transparency in government.

Stateside Associates @StatesideAssoc

Welcome, General @MarkShurtleff and thanks for participating in our Inaugural #StatesideChat

Stateside Associates @StatesideAssoc

@MarkShurtleff I have some prepared questions for you and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of follow up questions as we go. #StatesideChat

Stateside Associates @StatesideAssoc

I know you’re a man of action, are you ready to get started? #StatesideChat

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

@StatesideAssoc Fire away #StatesideChat

Stateside Associates @StatesideAssoc

You came in to office shortly after #RAGA was formed (the Republican Attorneys General Association, a part of RSLC). #StatesideChat

Stateside Associates @StatesideAssoc

What’s your advice to AG’s about balancing the partisan side of the job with policy and enforcement obligations? #StatesideChat

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

@StatesideAssoc Rs & Ds will differ on role of Gov’t. I believe in less Gov’t & best consumer protection is free market. #StatesideChat

Stateside Associates @StatesideAssoc

@MarkShurtleff Right. But you still have to keep an eye on your partisan side and that causes controversy right? #statesidechat

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

#StatesideChat Once in office collaborate effectively across party lines to enforce laws and protect the public & state & individual rights.

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

#StatesideChat on key issues of role of govt, political values & standards do enter in. i.e. Rs felt Obamacare is unconstitutional & sued.

Stateside Associates @StatesideAssoc

@MarkShurtleff Mark, you ran for Senate and withdrew for personal reasons. Any office look good for the future? #statesidechat

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

#StatesideChat I love public service. It has been a great honor to serve these 12 years. I’m going to step away for a time but WILL BE BACK!

Stateside Associates @StatesideAssoc

@MarkShurtleff GREAT! Good news. Now to something current. Immigration. Did your research re: Dred Scott influence you? #statesidechat

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

#StatesideChat I spent 6 years researching US history on recognizing rights of all people under the law. Despite rough start US is special.

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

#StatesideChat America has tried to be a place where we welcome all peoples who yearn for freedom & opportunity but must balance rule of law

Stateside Associates @StatesideAssoc

@MarkShurtleff Special how? What does American Exceptionalism mean to you? #statesidechat

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

#StatesideChat American exceptionalism means we deal with current immigration in a just, pragmatic, fair, truthful, compassionate way.

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

#StatesideChat And we tell the TRUTH about immigration & recognize the absolute economic need for migrant workers & positive contributions.

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

#StatesideChat In America we are special in that we look at the worth of individuals & our Constitution protects rights of all who live here

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

@StatesideAssoc #StatesideChat That’s not to say we don’t better secure border & FIX legal migration & naturalization. Feds have FAILED us!

Jeremy LaMont @Jeremy_LaMont

@StatesideAssoc Question for @MarkShurtleff What are practical challenges in enforcing current copyright law on the internet?#StatesideChat

Stateside Associates @StatesideAssoc

.@Jeremy_LaMont @MarkShurtleff Great question. Thanks for participating. AG Shurtleff? #statesidechat

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

@Jeremy_LaMont #StatesideChat Difficulty lies in “worldwide” nature of Internet & ability of long arm of law to reach crooks offshore.

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

@jeremy_lamont #StatesideChat But the law can & must stop those who allow & facilitate fraud & crime to be committed through their service.

ethanmillard @ethanmillard

@MarkShurtleff What parts of the new health care reform do you like? #statesidechat

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

@ethanmillard #StatesideChat I like the protections ACA re Pre-existing conditions.

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

@ethanmillard The Fed Dist Ct & 2nd Circuit agree w/GOP AGs that individual mandate of “Obamacare” is unconstitutional. #StatesideChat

ethanmillard @ethanmillard

@MarkShurtleff Do you think the mortgage fraud settlement was large enough? #statesidechat

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

@ethanmillard #StatesideChat Yes the $25 Billion mortgage settlement w/ 5 largest banks is sufficient as a start & will stop bad conduct

Jeremy LaMont @Jeremy_LaMont

@StatesideAssoc Following the AG’s bank foreclosure settlement, will we pursue other mortgage holders like Fannie/Freddie? #statesidechat

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

@Jeremy_LaMont #StatesideChat We are beginning settlement discussions with another 9 lenders which will cover 80% of mortgage market.

Stateside Associates @StatesideAssoc

@MarkShurtleff Remember Reagan’s 11th Commandment? What price will GOP pay for most negative nominating process ever? #statesidechat

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

#StatesideChat I firmly believe in Reagan’s 11th. GOP presidential candidates’ brutal negative attacks are doing the party harm & helping Ds

hct3 @hctthree

@MarkShurtleff #StatesideChat Have you endorsed a candidate for the GOP nomination this year?

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

@hctthree #StatesideChat Yes. I joined Romney’s team >1 year ago. He is best qualified to save our economy & only one who can beat Pres Obama

Stateside Associates @StatesideAssoc

@MarkShurtleff Last question from me. How do you get business leaders to not be paralyzed with fear re working with an AG? #statesidechat

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

#StatesideChat AGs must connect w/ business & show we believe in free market & only use power to keep level playing field & punish bad acts

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

@StatesideAssoc #StatesideChat America is great today because of two equal pillars: Rule of Law & Free Market. State AGs stand between.

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

@StatesideAssoc #StatesideChat JUSTICE guaranteed by Constitution requires AGs equally balance rights, laws, duties, penalties & liberties.

Stateside Associates @StatesideAssoc

@MarkShurtleff And business needs to inform and innovate and be good actors. Thank you, General Shurtleff! #statesidechat

Steve Arthur @stateGRguy

@MarkShurtleff Any thoughts on a federal balanced budget amendment passing? #Statesidechat

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

@ethanmillard #StatesideChat Yes @ if that bat has the law & Constitution @ its core, I’ll swing up & away with all my might! TY 4 engaging

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

@stateGRguy #StatesideChat Future success of our nation requires BB Amendment but w/Dems controlling Senate, it won’t happen.

Jeremy LaMont @Jeremy_LaMont

@MarkShurtleff Thanks for the opportunity to engage. More people would get involved with their gov if it was this accessible. #StatesideChat

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

#StatesideChat Looks like we’re done. I love Twitter & other new media! Gives me chance to connect directly with people. Let’s do it again.

Steve Arthur @stateGRguy

@MarkShurtleff #StatesideChat Thank you for taking the time for this chat. It is much appreciated.

Mark Shurtleff @MarkShurtleff

@StatesideAssoc Thanks for setting up this great #StatesideChat & giving me chance to engage directly with the people.

Growing Issues at State Departments of Agriculture Meeting

February 10, 2012

By Michael Behm, Senior Vice President

State agriculture commissioners and directors representing nearly 40 states convened in Washington, DC for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Winter Meeting to discuss a variety of state and federal policy issues facing farmers, ranchers and agribusiness.

While perhaps not attracting the same media attention as governors or legislators, the states’ chief agriculture officials play a critical role in sustaining America’s agribusiness.

The US agriculture industry is booming. Demand is up for agricultural products, commodity prices are near all-time highs and the value of US agricultural exports increased approximately 21% from 2010 to 2011. All of that said, the attending commissioners and directors acknowledged an equal number of challenges —a dwindling agricultural workforce and disappearing farmland, myriad regulatory challenges at the state and federal levels of government, shrinking federal subsidies and the ever-present danger of another economic downturn. Like the agriculture industry as a whole, NASDA’s members recognize…

READ THE FULL POST

Attorneys General Meeting Disaster

February 1, 2012

By Steve Arthur, Vice President

Attorneys General and their staff from many southern states gathered in Tampa, Florida January 26 and 27 to learn about all aspects of disaster preparedness. From enforcing price gouging statutes to managing their offices more effectively in a disaster, the conference provided an opportunity to share best practices and provide guidance to the private sector.

While there were some excellent presentations about what Attorneys General offices can do to better prepare for disasters and how best to respond, I want to focus on the messages most relevant to the private sector.

Price Gouging

Of particular interest to the private sector were the discussions about consumer protection. In a panel addressing price gouging, there was agreement among the Attorneys General that enforcing price gouging statutes can be problematic. For example, Hurricane Ike (2008) did significant damage to refineries in Texas, but did not cause any damage in Tennessee. But the Texas damage did cause gas shortages which resulted in price spikes for gasoline. Since gas stations usually price their gas based on what they expect to pay for the next tanker, how does an Attorney General determine what price rise is excessive under a state’s statute?

The panel also addressed how best to draft a price gouging statute. Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) of North Carolina outlined two generic options. The first, a more prescriptive statute, sets out formulas for how much a price needs to rise before it would be considered gouging and outlines specific types of products covered. The second is drafted more vaguely and uses words like “excessive” and “unconscionable” price increases. It was described as more along the lines of pornography laws: you know it when you see it. This version understandably makes retailers nervous, but it was argued that this gives Attorneys General more flexibility to enforce against only those retailers engaging in the worst of price gouging, making it less likely that retailers who must pass along price increases will have to defend themselves.

In the end, there seemed to be agreement among the Attorneys General that the most effective deterrent to price gouging was high profile enforcement. By taking on one or two egregious offenders, others would be discouraged from trying to price gouge. They talked about enforcement actions against both the big guys and the little guys to make sure the message gets out. The lesson they were trying to convey: it’s okay to pass along legitimate cost increases, but don’t try to make excessive profits off other people’s misery.

On the plus side, some retailers were praised for their disaster response efforts. Wal-Mart, Lowes and The Home Depot were singled out on several occasions during the conference as model companies for their responses. Each of the companies were cited for their ability to quickly get their stores re-opened and re-supplied, as well as being proactive in freezing prices during and after disasters.

Public Private Partnerships

Also of note for the private sector was the support given to public-private partnerships to better prepare for disasters. General Bob Cooper (D) of Tennessee opened the discussion on this topic by noting that one of the best partnerships between business and government is simply for businesses to execute their disaster response plans and for government to remove barriers to those plans. That is the quickest way to begin getting things back to normal.

More proactively, some states are starting to create business emergency operations centers, which are designed to share resources and build trust between government agencies and the private sector. These centers are used to quickly connect businesses to those officials who might be needed to approve permits for things like overweight/oversized trucks or access to restricted areas to allow stores to quickly re-supply and be ready to re-open when residents are allowed back in.

There was also agreement that the more government and the private sector prepare in advance for disasters, the smoother the recovery will be. For example, multiple presenters mentioned that states should make sure that there is a credentialing system in place prior to an emergency to allow for quicker access to closed areas in order for business to quickly re-establish supply chains.

Establish Relationships Now

One of the most important messages that came through for the private sector was the importance of developing relationships with key state officials in advance of any disaster. Because of the focus on price gouging, this conference of Attorneys General highlighted the importance of having a relationship with those offices to quickly clear up any misunderstandings that might pop up in the aftermath of a disaster. This is especially important in those states where the price gouging statute is written broadly.


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