Posts Tagged ‘bill track’

From Apples to Exports: State Agriculture Officials Convene To Address Industry Opportunities and Challenges

September 27, 2012

By Stateside Associates

The heads of more than 40 state agriculture departments convened in Des Moines, Iowa last week to discuss the state of the industry at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Annual Meeting. The meeting provided a venue for discussion on recent achievements and challenges in state farm policy as well as the adoption of new policy priorities for the upcoming year.

It has been a year of highs- high costs and temperature that is- for the Agriculture sector. In particular, strong export demand and the Midwest drought have fueled price increases for commodities like corn and soybeans. While good news for some, these prices are also driving up costs on a range of products—from biofuels to consumer food items- and are impacting the bottom line of many farmers. Depending on the crop or product in question, this could be a year of boom or bust.

Adding to this divide is a lack of certainty around future federal Agricultural policy. With a new Farm Bill in the works but far from completion, state officials are faced with another stopgap continuing resolution and an uncertain future for many federal farm programs. The need for a new Farm Bill was stressed throughout the meeting and culminated in the NASDA membership adopting an action item urging the passage of a 5-year Farm Bill as soon as possible. Of particular concern to meeting attendees was the sentiment that Agriculture programs are a likely target for large federal spending reductions.

Beyond federal policy, this year’s meeting covered the other major issues facing the Agriculture sector including drought, water quality, and biofuel production. All three topics highlighted a common theme—America’s farmers are being relied upon to produce more food, fiber and fuel with less government support and increased regulatory requirements. With regards to regulation, finding the right balance between state and federal oversight was another theme heard throughout the meeting.

Some of these concerns made their way into NASDA policy at the meeting. Adopted by the NASDA membership, the following issues will be part of the NASDA organization’s priorities as it communicates with Congress over the coming year:

  • Border Security and Labor Workforce Reform
  • State Management of Invasive Species
  • Water Quality Permitting
  • School Lunch Programs
  • The Dairy Security Act

In addition to official policy positions, the NASDA membership also spent time discussing a number of other issues impacting the states including:

  • The role of corn in ethanol and food production
  • The increasing importance of agricultural exports
  • Increasing public interest in GMO labeling and Biotechnology
  • Advances in agricultural practices to address nutrient runoff

NASDA leadership also changed at the 2012 meeting with outgoing president Bill Northey, Secretary of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship handing the gavel to Commissioner Steve Troxler of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Commissioner Troxler will host the 2013 NASDA Annual Meeting next September in Asheville, North Carolina. During his term, the Commissioner will guide NASDA efforts to ensure the issues addressed at the Annual Meeting are raised to policy makers in Washington, D.C. As a next step in this process, NASDA will reconvene in February in the Washington, D.C. area for its Winter Policy Conference.

Say Goodbye to Your Lobbyist – The Right Way

August 20, 2012

By Constance Campanella, President and CEO

If you decide to part ways with your contract lobbyist, there are some things you should do to make the change most positive for all concerned.

My focus here is not on replacing lobbyists who are “not working out,” but on the decision not to continue to have a lobbyist in a state. The reasons you make that decision are myriad. For example, if your lobbyist was focused on supporting your manufacturing facility in a state and you sold that facility–well, then–the lobbyist goes too. If you passed the bill you hired the lobbyist to pass–two years ago–you may decide it is OK to go unrepresented in that state. Another possibility is that your budget was slashed to the bone and you had to make painful decisions. As I said, there are plenty of possibilities.

So, you made the decision to end the relationship. I expect you know how to make that phone call and say good things, but have you thought about a thorough exit interview? Candidly, I had not, but Ron Barnes, Vice President of State Government Relations for the Direct Marketing Association and a Stateside client, told me recently that he does exit interviews with lobbyists and I thought that was a fantastic idea and wanted to share. Hence this blog.

Here are my recommended questions for an exit interview. What do you have to add to this list? Leave a comment in the field below or email your suggestions to stateside@stateside.com.

  • What do you know now that you wished you had known when we started working together?
  • Did I give you the tools you needed (Information, Messages, Grassroots/Grasstops)?
  • How well did we (client) handle administrative responsibilities, i.e. payments, lobbyist registration?
  • Was our level of campaign involvement high enough, too low or just right?
  • If situations change, would you be willing to work for us again?
  • Do you foresee any land mines out there for my company/association in the coming year?
  • In what areas do you think you could improve?
  • What would you recommend I do to improve as a client?

NGA Chair Adopts Focus on Disabled Workers

July 18, 2012

By Josh Fisher, Manager

Governor Markell speaking at NGA Annual Meeting in Williamsburg, VirginiaAs the National Governors Association (NGA) Annual Meeting drew to a close in Williamsburg, Virginia, it was clear that not only will economic development continue to be a priority for the association, but so will job creation under the Chair’s 2012-2013 Initiative, which is focused specifically on employing America’s disabled.

At the closing session of the NGA Annual Meeting, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman (R) handed the reins to incoming Chair for 2012-2013, Delaware Governor Jack Markell (D). Governor Heineman’s major initiative as chairman was improving state economies by focusing on small business development and fast-growing companies. Sticking with the job-creation theme of his predecessor, Governor Markell, who served as the Vice Chair of NGA for the past year, took the time at the meeting’s closing session to announce his initiative as Chair will be A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities.

In addition to Governor Markell assuming the role of NGA Chair, Republican Governor Mary Fallin, of Oklahoma, will serve as Vice Chair. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) had been expected to fill the Vice Chair role but decided he did not have the time to take on another leadership position. Governor Christie will remain an active leader of the NGA as he was reelected to the NGA Executive Committee. Also elected to the NGA Executive Committee for 2012-2013 were Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe (D), Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D), Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D), Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman (R), Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R).

Calling his initiative one that “governors all across the country can embrace” Governor Markell’s goal is to increase employment opportunities for Americans with disabilities. The centerpiece of the initiative will be identifying the employment challenges affecting those with disabilities and developing strategies and best practices to assist those seeking employment.

This issue is one that Governor Markell believes will require close cooperation between states and the private sector. The Governor stated that he wants to actively engage the business community and plans to gather and meet with business leaders throughout the next year to address this issue. Recognizing that only 20% of Americans with disabilities are employed and believing that this initiative just “makes good business sense,” the new NGA Chair plans to work with the private sector in the development of new employment strategies. This is an opportunity for the private sector to engage public officials surrounding the preferences and incentives for hiring disabled employees.

Included in the group Governor Markell wants to help are veterans living with disabilities. “The bottom line is that there are so many people with disabilities who have the time, talent and desire to make meaningful contributions to interested employers,” he said.

The initiative has its roots in a CEO summit held in June that focused on employment of people with disabilities. That summit was attended by executives from more than a dozen companies and included U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (R) of Iowa, U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions (R) of Texas and Governor Markell.

This initial summit will be followed by meetings around the country in which Governor Markell gathers feedback from business leaders and public and private stakeholders in order to develop a set of blueprints that states and businesses can use to boost employment among the disabled. Several companies are already active on this issue, but the NGA Chair’s focus on this issue will no doubt open up new opportunities for the private sector to interface with state leaders in the development of policies and incentives for hiring disabled employees.

***

Josh Fisher is Manager of State Issues. His work at Stateside Associates has given him an intimate knowledge of the legislative process in all 50 states. He works with clients on a wide range of state and local government affairs issues and was most recently Manager of the Legislative Information Division at Stateside Associates.


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