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RLACC 2017 Annual Report - Government Affairs Division

Posted by: JustinFreeman on Monday, February 5, 2018
As seen in the February edition of the Chamber Voice, the 2017 Annual Report offers a summary of each Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce division's accomplishments in 2017. An extended version of each division will be profiled on the Voice of Business Blog. The next department summarized is Government Affairs. Government Affairs Government Affairs serves as the link between members and local, state and federal government by advocating for pro-business and quality-of-life issues that are important to Northwest Arkansas. Additionally, Government Affairs engages in activities that produce long-term positive impacts including voter registration and education, engagement of members in the political process and continuously improved outreach efforts. Objective:  Enhance the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce’s capacity to effectively influence local, state and federal legislation. Respond to legislators' requests for assistance each year by providing staff support to the 3rd District Caucus, which will improve trust and strengthen ties with state legislators.
  • Staff worked with 3rd District Caucus members on issues as they arise.
Host three (3) legislative committee meetings per year in Northwest Arkansas, which allows the Chamber to highlight regional areas of need and build support among legislators from around the state.
  • Staff attended all meetings of the General Assembly during the Legislative Session.
Continue to develop the Northwest Arkansas Political Action Committee (NPAC) by raising $5,000 for the program. The political action committee can support well-qualified candidates during elections.
  • Staff received a $2,000 contribution for the NPAC in October.
  • The NPAC Committee met in November and agreed to proceed with a fundraising effort that will begin in the first quarter of 2018.
  • Staff advised the NPAC Committee that it will make assessments after the 2018 filing period for elections closes. Staff will then submit recommendations to the committee to make contributions to qualified candidates during the 2018 Primaries.
Maintain a presence at the Capitol during the interim between legislative sessions by attending eight (8) interim committee meetings. This will help maintain the Chamber’s visibility with legislators and provide additional networking opportunities.
  • Staff attended all relevant interim legislative meetings held in Little Rock and across the state.
Objective:  Establish regionalism to leverage economic development for coordinated marketing, messaging and advocacy efforts. Strengthen Chamber alliances with Fort Smith, Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas by attending two (2) meetings each year with other metro chambers of commerce and the state chamber of commerce.  This will help staff better understand legislative needs in their area and utilize their political influence to encourage passage of pro-business legislation.
  • During the General Assembly, staff worked with legislators, other chambers, industry representatives, and the Arkansas State Chamber on the passage or defeat of key legislation that affected the business community.
  • Staff attended several meetings throughout the year in Little Rock with the Arkansas State Chamber on a host of issues.
  • Staff monitored progress on legislative issues of interest to the Chamber by attending the Arkansas State Chamber lunches, conferences, and calls.
  • Staff attended the Arkansas State Chamber’s Government Affairs Conference held in Little Rock.
  • Staff attended the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Regional Government Affairs meeting held in Chicago, along with representatives from the Arkansas State Chamber and the Little Rock Chamber.
Work with other Northwest Arkansas Chambers and the Northwest Arkansas Council to develop a regional legislative agenda each year. This regional plan will improve legislation and provide a benefit to the entire region.
  • The 2017 Northwest Arkansas Regional Legislative Agenda enjoyed a very successful session when 17 acts that were directly tied to the 22-item agenda were signed into law by the Governor.
  • The 2017 Northwest Arkansas Regional Legislative Agenda was formally adopted by the Executive Committee of the Northwest Arkansas Council.
  • The Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Siloam Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, and the Springdale Chamber of Commerce Boards of Directors adopted the 2017 Northwest Arkansas Regional Legislative Agenda.
  • Planning for the 2019 Regional Legislative Agenda began in 2017. Meetings with our Regional Health Care Administrators will be held in January. Legislative Agenda meetings are scheduled to begin in May 2018.
Objective:  Help Chamber members understand and navigate the governmental process. Maximize the reach of the chamber by utilizing social media to post or tweet at least 25 times each month about government-related issues, programs or events of importance to our members.
  • Staff posted in social media and other channels about voter registration deadlines, and election date reminders, and encouraged voter participation in elections held throughout the year. Social media highlighted elections on annexation and the school board that occurred in 2017.
  • Staff communicated to key membership to engage certain legislators on specific issues and legislation during the meeting of the General Assembly.
Host eight (8) Government Affairs Committee meetings each year with an average attendance of 25 per meeting. The meetings provide an opportunity to discuss legislative issues in-depth and educate members on critical issues.
  • All Government Affairs Committee meetings and joint meetings with the Large Industry Council were held as scheduled in 2017.
Host five (5) legislative forums during the session in 2017 with an average attendance of 50 people, which will allow the public to meet and ask questions of elected officials.
  • All legislative forums for the 2017 Legislative Session were held this year. The forums began on January 28, and were held every two (2) weeks after that until early April at the NorthWest Arkansas Community College.
  • The forums that were held this year were well attended. As the sessions continued over time, interest and participation by both legislators and audience members began to wane. Staff attributes this to not allowing the forum to be centered on a single issue, legislator, or a specific piece of legislation. Other area chambers that allowed this to happen received negative media attention and complaints from legislators for the lack of civility and decorum at their event.
Encourage the minority community to participate in the political process by conducting one voter registration effort and two educational forums targeting the minority community each year.
  • Staff continued to explore and welcome all possibilities to reach out and register voters from the minority community.
Assist members by responding to requests for information and assistance on government-related issues. Assisting members in resolving legislative issues helps to strengthen the business community and economic environment in Northwest Arkansas.
  • Staff continued to assist membership with questions about specific issues and legislation passed during the General Assembly. Staff is also working to help facilitate contact with newly-elected legislators for members.
  • Staff worked with Bekaert to organize a meeting with Congressman Womack and the federal delegation held in June on an active International Trade Commission Anti-dumping and Countervailing investigation. Bekaert and their competitors who were also impacted by the investigation attended this meeting. Representatives from the Governor’s Office and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission also joined this meeting by teleconference.
  • Staff attended a meeting held in September in Washington, D.C. that was a continuation of the Bekaert meetings held in June. This meeting included the staff of 37 members of Congress representing districts in 17 states. During the Washington Fly-In, staff also advised Bekaert officials at additional meetings held with Congressman Womack and the Congressional leadership on this issue.
Provide staff support to the NWA Emerging Leaders Political and Government Affairs Workgroup by assisting with one voter registration effort and hosting a political candidate training breakfast series targeting young professionals. Providing an avenue for emerging leaders to become involved in government affairs will help develop future candidates for public office and prepare the next generation of leaders for our region.
  • Staff continued working with Walton Enterprises to develop a Political Leadership Institute (PLI) that will train and equip possible candidates for future City Council and Legislative seats. The PLI will be solely operated by the Chamber and Walton Enterprises.
  • The Northwest Arkansas Emerging Leaders Ready to Run Series was revamped and held in July. There were over 60 attendees at the event who heard from several presenters on the different aspects of how to run a successful political campaign. Governor Hutchinson was scheduled to speak at the event but was called away to meetings in Washington shortly before the event.
Distribute 50 email updates in 2017 that contain information and updates on local, state and federal issues.
  • Staff sent regular GA Updates to the membership as needed.
Host Chamber Night receptions before the City of Rogers and Rogers School Board, and City of Lowell "State of the City" addresses with 75 Chamber members and members of the public in attendance. This will provide an opportunity for members to introduce themselves to local officials, the realm of public service, and become more familiar with the issues facing each city.
  • Chamber Night Receptions were held in February for Rogers and Lowell.
  • Chamber Night at the Rogers School Board was held in October.
Objective:  Aggressively advocate for pro-business public policy and issues. Maintain a 75 percent attendance during each legislative session to enhance the respectability of the Chamber and improve influence on legislation.
  • Staff attended all meetings of the General Assembly held in Little Rock and all meetings of the special session in May.
Draft and advocate for a regional legislative agenda, with at least 50 percent of agenda submitted as introduced legislation through 2017.
  • Staff worked on all components of the 2017 Northwest Arkansas Regional Legislative Agenda during the General Assembly - 17 acts that were directly tied to the 22-item agenda were signed into law by the Governor.
  • Legislators introduced and gained passage of several bills addressing Workforce Development issues contained in the Agenda.
  • Groundwork has begun for the creation of the 2019 Regional Legislative Agenda. Follow-up meetings were held on the 2017 Legislative Agenda, and future issues are being studied for inclusion in the 2019 Agenda.
Advocate at federal and state levels for legislation of importance to Chamber members by preparing at least four statements of support and initiating two calls to action to membership on legislative and public policy through 2016.
  • Staff drafted and sent three (3) calls-to-action on legislation before the General Assembly this session.
  • Staff advised the Chamber to join letters of support initiated by both the Arkansas State Chamber and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on several federal and state issues throughout the year.
Host four meetings each year with staff of congressional representatives to strengthen ties with staff and improve influence and ability to relay policy positions to the region's congressional representation.
  • Staff maintained regular contact with congressional staff through personal relationships and planned events throughout the year.
  • Staff worked with the delegation on an International Trade Commission issue involving Bekaert as per the above.
  • Staff helped plan and host a luncheon in Rogers where Congressman Womack received the U.S. Chamber’s Spirit of Enterprise Award.
Create, maintain and promote the governmental advocacy micro-website at RogersLowellVotes.com (or new URL) that will better inform members and engage them in the political process.
  • Staff started work concepting a new website called InfluenceNWA.com to launch in 2018. RogersLowellVotes.com is currently inactive.
Objective:  Pursue transportation infrastructure funding. Provide support to the Regional Mobility Authority as needed and participate in all regional mobility meetings.
  • Staff attended all meetings of the Regional Mobility Authority as they were announced in 2017 and plans to do the same in 2018.
Attend two highway commission meetings as well as host the AHTD director and staff at one (1) event each year to advocate for new funding from the highway department.
  • Staff guided the adoption of language advocating an increase in infrastructure funding that was included in the 2017 Regional Agenda.
  • Staff worked closely with Representative Dan Douglas and attempted to achieve passage of HB1726 and HB1727 but both measures failed. These would have provided a significant increase in funding for infrastructure projects.
  • Staff maintained and developed working relationships with Trammel and Taldo.
Organize one (1) trip to Washington, D.C. for a minimum of 10 Chamber members.  These trips will help educate federal delegation and federal agencies on Northwest Arkansas needs as well as assist in driving additional infrastructure dollars to the region.
  • The trip was held September 27-28, 2017 and received high praise. The next trip is planned for September 2018.

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