NAAG MEETING: NIGHTMARE TO DREAM TRIP

June 12, 2014

By Steve Arthur, Vice President

parachute_hit_target_400_clr_14044My recent trip to the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Summer Meeting reminded me that state government relations professionals deal not only with weighty public policy issues, but also with the choices we make about whether to attend a conference and how we get there.

We sometimes do take for granted the nice places we enjoy while attending Groups meetings. However, for anyone who has ever attended a meeting on Mackinac Island, Michigan you know that getting there can be a challenge even when everything goes well. And last week, everything did not go well getting to the NAAG Summer Meeting.

My day began with a 3:00 AM wake-up call to be on the road from Santa Fe to Albuquerque at 4:00 for the 6:00 AM flight to Minneapolis to catch the flight to Detroit to catch the flight to Pellston, Michigan to catch the bus to the dock to catch the ferry to island to get on the horse drawn taxi to the hotel. Just in time for a 7:30 dinner. At least that was the plan.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas. Due to severe weather, the Detroit to Pellston flight was cancelled, and some on the flight were told the first available seat would be two days later. In fact some meeting attendees seriously considered asking the airline to simply fly them back home. To their credit, NAAG staff quickly arranged a charter bus to make sure the Attorneys General, staff and the rest of us could arrive in time for the next day’s opening session.

So a 45 minute flight became a 360 minute bus ride after a two hour delay in leaving Detroit. That 7:30 dinner became an order of chicken fingers at the airport and a refreshment stop at a grocery store in Flint. Of course, the bus can only take you so far when your final destination is an ISLAND. Again, NAAG staff came through with a chartered ferry 5 hours later than the last regularly scheduled ferry.

Once the meeting started the next day, a couple of things became clear. First, while the number of Attorneys General and staff were down from previous meetings, over 30 states were still represented. The big change was the number of private sector attendees, which was well below normal. This made it much easier for those of us who were there to talk with everyone we needed to for business, and also allowed more casual discussions at the social events.

Second, the bus trip became the talk of the conference. While it was definitely not the best of travel days, it was a bit of a bonding experience for those on the bus, and it will likely be mentioned at future NAAG meetings for years to come. And this brings me to my point about how travel can impact our jobs. We all know that building relationships is an important aspect of our profession and when you spend six hours with people on an unscheduled bus ride, that can definitely be a long term relationship builder. We might even start a Facebook page.

The second, and just as important, lesson from this trip is to always attend the meetings that may be difficult to get to because your competitors might not be there. You persevered – they did not – you win. Imagine how you would feel if your competitor followed this advice and you did not?

State government relations is comprised of so many elements from Legislative Monitoring to Strategic Planning, Groups issue management and Lobbying. Until this meeting, I did not fully appreciate the value of the shared travel nightmare for building relationships.

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Steve Arthur is Vice President and brings more than 20 years of public policy experience in both the public and private sector to his work at Stateside Associates. Mr. Arthur provides clients with hands on state government relations support from strategic planning and issue management to lobbyist management and direct lobbying. He is one of the leaders of Stateside’s Attorneys General practice, guiding clients through the process of working with, and lobbying, state Attorneys General.

Regulation Déjà Vu

June 5, 2014

By John Howell, Esq., Vice President

SRegulatory Activity Overloadummer is approaching and state legislative sessions are winding down. But, for those who focus on state regulations, the “high season” is still very much underway. And, it all has to do with state elections.

With 36 gubernatorial elections in November, along with high profile issues such as hydraulic fracturing, health care, network neutrality, privacy of information, and a myriad of environmental issues dotting the regulatory landscape, the second half of 2014 is shaping up to be a heavy period of regulatory activity.

We often observe a spike in regulatory activity following legislative sessions. The reasons run the gamut from implementing rules in response to the passage of new laws to more strategic reasons such as regulatory agencies’ desire to maintain independence and authority in the absence of legislative scrutiny. Regardless of the reason, there is no “summer lull” in state regulatory activity. In fact, we are again seeing a sizable uptick in activity through our Regulatory Forecasting and RegulationALERT services and that is in keeping with the historical trend for a midterm election year.

Using a constant issue set as the basis, here is what we have observed:

In 2009, the year preceding the last midterm election, our regulatory services team observed a 27% spike in the regulatory activity between the first half of the year against the second half. In the first half of 2009, our team monitored 738 new proposed regulations while in the second half of 2009 that number jumped to 928 for a total of 1666 first published regulations followed in 2009.

The spike in new regulatory activity continued into 2010 as we monitored over 3,100 new proposed regulations, an increase of nearly 100% against 2009.

Following the elections in 2010, the rate of regulatory activity continued to be strong. Over 1,120 new regulations were first published in the year after which the activity leveled off towards the latter half of 2011 through the first half of 2013.

Now, four years later with another midterm election on the horizon, our regulatory team witnessed a 44% increase in regulatory monitoring activity in the second half of 2013. In the first half of 2013 we monitored 679 new proposed regulations while in the second half of 2013 the number increased to 976 regulations.

In 2014, we are again witnessing close to a 100% spike in activity as compared to the same period in 2013. In this midterm election year, there have been over 1,200 new proposed regulations so far.

As Yogi Berra said so famously, “it’s déjà vu all over again”.

Adding dimension to the impact midterm elections have on regulatory activity will be the results themselves – particularly at the gubernatorial level. Past elections have demonstrated that the re-election of an incumbent governor, regardless of party, often leads to an additional spike in regulatory activity immediately following the election that carries through into the following year.

Conversely, newly elected governors, regardless of party, tend to move in a more deliberate fashion. Administrative priorities involved with taking office as well as the need to establish goals, objectives and new regulatory priorities are the likely driving factors. Therein lies the challenge as new priorities also generate new issues and concerns for those who monitor regulatory activity ranging from having to gain additional subject matter expertise to establishing new relationships with staff.

If 2010 was any lesson to us, we are staring at a sustained period of increased regulatory activity which could last through the first half of 2015.

Exciting times, indeed.

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John Howell is Vice President of Regulatory Services at Stateside Associates. With substantial policy and legal experience, Mr. Howell guides Stateside Associates’ regulatory counsel and provides clients with hands on Regulatory Issue Management support from strategic planning, regulatory advocacy, and working with groups of state and local officials.

Election 2014: A Second Spotlight on the Gubernatorial Races

June 3, 2014

By Nick Blazer, Manager, Social Media Services and the 2014 Elections Project

canstockphoto1698022June features three more waves of primary elections in states across the country that will settle some key questions in this year’s races. Will Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R) or Neel Kashkari (R) emerge from California’s top-two primary system to compete against Governor Jerry Brown (D), who is highly likely to be one of the winners, in the general election? Who will be the Nevada Democratic Party’s nominee to face Governor Brian Sandoval (R)? Finally, who will be the official candidates seeking the open seat in Maryland? Over the next four weeks, these questions will be answered.

In total, there are fifteen primary elections and a primary runoff election scheduled in June. Alabama, California, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota are holding primary elections today on June 3; Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and South Carolina will hold primary elections on June 10; and Colorado, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma and Utah will hold primary elections on June 24. However, Montana, North Dakota and Utah will not be electing a governor in 2014. In addition, Arkansas will hold its primary runoff election on June 10 and South Carolina may hold a primary runoff election on June 24 if necessary.

After June 24, more than half of the gubernatorial primary elections will be settled.

In honor of the early June gubernatorial primaries, here are updates on four races. Also, be sure to check out more information on the latest polls and news headlines, plus interactive elections charts and information on ballot measures, on our companion elections websites 2014governorsraces.com and 2014attorneysgeneral.com.

California

Governor Jerry Brown (D) is seeking re-election in 2014. His two main competitors are Neel Kashkari (R) and Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R) in California’s top-two primary system, where all candidates are placed on the same primary ballot regardless of party affiliation. The two candidates with the highest amount of votes in the primary election advance to the ballot in the general election. Governor Brown is very likely to be one of the two candidates: two recent polls place Governor Brown as the definite front-runner in the race.

The Public Policy Institute of California surveyed California residents in May and included questions about the 2014 gubernatorial election. The poll found 48% of respondents likely to vote in the primary election intended to vote for Governor Brown, while 15% picked Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, 10% backed Neel Kashkari, 27% were undecided and 1% opted for a different candidate in the race. SurveyUSA also conducted a mid-May poll and discovered 57% of respondents would vote for Governor Brown, while 15% intended to cast a vote for Assemblyman Donnelly, 11% for Neel Kashkari, 4% for a different candidate and 10% of respondents were undecided.

In addition, Governor Jerry Brown possessed more than $20 million in cash on hand as of the most recent campaign finance reports, while Neel Kashkari reported holding $1.4 million in cash on hand and Assemblyman Tim Donnelly reported possessing $70,000 in cash on hand.

The California primary election is today, June 3.

Iowa

Governor Terry Branstad (R) is seeking re-election in 2014. He is challenged by Tom Hoefling (R) for the Republican Party nomination in the primary election. State Senator Jack Hatch (D) is unopposed for the Democratic Party nomination.

Governor Branstad is in a good position as indicated by the most recent poll. Public Policy Polling surveyedIowa voters in May and asked respondents to vote in two general election scenarios pitting State Senator Jack Hatch against Tom Hoefling and Governor Branstad. In a race between Governor Branstad and State Senator Hatch, 48% backed Governor Branstad, 40% supported State Senator Hatch and 12% were undecided. In a match between Tom Hoefling and State Senator Hatch, 37% opted for Jack Hatch, 30% chose Tom Hoefling and 33% were uncertain.

Governor Branstad is financially well-positioned against his competitors. The campaign finance reports for the period between January 1 and mid-May were due earlier this month. Governor Branstad raised more than $1.1million during that period and possessed more than $4.5 million in cash on hand. State Senator Hatch raised more than $262,000 and possessed more than $310,000 in cash on hand.

Lastly, Tom Hoefling and Governor Branstad squared off in a debate in early May.

The Iowa primary election is today, June 3.

Maine

Governor Paul LePage (R) is seeking re-election in 2014. He is challenged by Congressman Mike Michaud (D) and his 2010 rival Eliot Cutler (I).

The race is highly competitive and still a possible tossup, as indicated by a poll conducted by Critical Insights in April and released in early May. Critical Insights reported 37% of respondents sided with Congressman Mike Michaud, 36% backed Governor Paul LePage, 18% would vote for Eliot Cutler and 8% were undecided.

Campaign finance reports released at the beginning of June, for the reporting period of April 23 until May 27, revealed Governor Paul LePage raised the most funds of the three candidates in the reporting period. Eliot Cutler raised more than $33,000 and possessed more than $39,000 in cash on hand. Congressman Michaud raised more than $120,000 and possessed more than $570,000 in cash on hand. Finally, Governor LePage raised more than $150,000 and possessed more than $540,000 in cash on hand.

The Maine primary election is June 10.

New Mexico

Governor Susana Martinez (R) is seeking re-election in 2014. She will face one of five possible Democratic candidates in the general election. Attorney General Gary King (D), Linda Lopez (D), State Senator Howie Morales (R), Lawrence Rael (D) and Alan Webber (D) are competing for the party nomination.

A recent poll conducted by the Albuquerque Journal found Attorney General Gary King held the most support in the Democratic field among respondents, but more than a quarter still needed to decide. The poll discovered 22% of respondents backed Attorney General King, 16% supported Lawrence Rael, 16% chose Alan Webber, 12% picked State Senator Howie Morales, 5% backed Linda Lopez and 29% were undecided.

Governor Martinez is financially well-positioned relative to her field of challengers. She raised the most funds in April – $561,000 – and possessed the most cash on hand (more than $4 million). On the Democratic side for the month of April, Alan Webber raised more than $115,000 and possessed more than $455,000 in cash on hand; Lawrence Rael raised $58,000 and possessed more than $209,000 in cash on hand; Attorney General Gary King raised $12,300 and possessed more than $48,000 in cash on hand; State Senator Howie Morales raised $22,000 and possessed more than $44,000 in cash on hand; and Linda Lopez raised more than $10,000 and possessed more than $13,000 in cash on hand.

The New Mexico primary election is today, June 3.

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Nick Blazer is Manager of Social Media Services and the 2014 Elections Project.


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