Monday, January 6, 2014

2014--Our Legislative Agenda Is Based on Pro-Business Public Policy

Recently, the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce adopted a platform of state and federal legislative priorities for 2014 that it helped craft with other chambers in the state through the Arizona Chamber Executives. This legislative agenda provides  common goals on pro-business public policy for chambers to advocate for together and will build upon the successes we saw last year.

The agenda pushes for fiscal policies that will attract new investments and bring jobs to Arizona. Last year saw many businesses relocate to Arizona because of its conducive environment, a trend we continue to encourage in 2014. Advancing a successful business climate will also include advocating for policies that help make our state education system the most attractive by producing graduates who are career-ready and capable of competing on a global scale.

The chambers will oppose any legislation that would reduce rural economic development capacity and impair tourism dollars. We will also support legislation that explores more public-private partnerships that would increase industry productivity and reduce the dependency on state funds. Most importantly, Arizona chambers will advocate for a balanced budget to ensure there are no unjustified taxes imposed on our families and businesses that would hinder economic vitality.

We will also support legislation that will continue to highlight Arizona as an attractive place to invest federal and corporate research dollars. Our first-rate public universities have helped make Arizona a hub for vital study in areas such as national research. It is our goal to continue to attract these investments that will help grow our universities, educate our students, and infuse our economy with the outputs.

Building upon our successful restoration and expansion of our state Medicaid program, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), in 2014 we will advocate for legislation and policies that maximize the number of individuals receiving health insurance while also being fiscally responsible. We will also oppose any efforts by the federal government to reduce funding to AHCCCS that would cause a cost shift to the private sector.

At the federal level, we will continue in 2014 to push for a comprehensive immigration reform bill to be passed by the House of Representatives and signed by President Obama. Such legislation would provide for visa reform, reinforce education attainment and contribute to the overall economic vitality of the state of Arizona. It would also support policies to properly seal our porous borders, respond to the needs of the economy, and address the issue of illegal immigrants already in the United States. Legislation such as this passed the U.S. Senate in 2013 through the leadership of our Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake. We will call on our House delegation to do the same.

We will work to ensure that in 2014 any legislation that addresses climate change does so without transferring wealth out of our state or artificially increasing the costs for energy producers or consumers. For Flagstaff this means working to protect the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) from burdensome new regulations that threaten to eliminate over 1,000 jobs and drive up our utility costs.

Finally, with regards to the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI), we will continue to work with Senators McCain and Flake and Arizona’s entire Congressional delegation to monitor the progress of this vitally important project. In 2013, we saw the 4FRI contract transfer to a new company, Good Earth Power. Our Senators also advanced legislation that will provide more tools to the U.S. Forest Service for fighting dangerous wildfires. It will be key in 2014 for Arizona’s forests to remain healthy so as to protect life and the economic output our forests provide.

These policies will form the basis for our advocacy efforts at the state and federal levels, but as always, we remain committed to all issues and advocate for any legislation that will be a benefit to our businesses, strengthen our educational system, and grow our communities.

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