Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Chamber's Public Policy is Working for You - What We Do and How You Can Help

by Barry Fisher, 69-WFMZ-TV & wfmz.com
Chair, Chamber Board of Governors, barryf@wfmz.com

The Chamber’s Public Policy Team is fighting for you!

The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber works diligently on many public policy issues. Understanding the needs of our members helps us make policy recommendations and participate in ongoing conversations with elected officials at the local, state and federal level. Chamber policies are developed by the Public Policy Committee, which is made up of over 25 representatives from the Chamber’s various chambers, councils and committees.  Each member brings the viewpoint of those groups to the process to draft well thought out and balanced policies to present to legislators for consideration. 

The Public Policy Committee and its subcommittees have created position statements on a wide variety of issues including Right to Work, Immigration, Minimum Wage, the PennEast Pipeline, Marcellus Shale, Pension Reform, Healthcare Legislative Policy, Tax and Regulatory Policy, and Transportation Policy; Additionally, they are currently preparing comments on the EPA Clean Air Act. 

It may surprise you that at times, the Public Policy committee may choose to pass on developing a Chamber policy.  No policy is adopted when the committee cannot arrive on a super majority consensus.  In those cases, the Chamber may simply provide forums to discuss the issue.

The Chamber excels at providing a wide variety of opportunities to interact with legislators at summits and forums throughout the year.  In fact, in 2014 and 2015 the Public Policy Committee hosted the annual Lehigh Valley Mayors’ Reception, a Lehigh Valley Congressional Forum (4 congressman from our region), live audience tapings of our Business Matters TV show with Governor Corbett, Senators Toomey and Casey, and all 2014 gubernatorial candidates, as well as forums with Wolf administration Cabinet Secretaries Rivera (education), Manderino (labor and industry), Richards (Transportation) and Wetzel (Corrections).

Subcommittees of The Chamber’s Public Policy Committee include The Tax & Regulatory Committee, The Healthcare Committee, The Manufacturing Council, The Energy and Environment Committee, and The Transportation Committee.  We also work with our partners at Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board.

Interested members can follow each committee in the pages of Connections every month and when you’re ready to get involved, contact Michelle Young for board member opportunities.

The Chamber's Tax & Regulatory Committee informs municipal officials, the PA General Assembly, and U.S. Congress of our member’s taxation concerns. We review annual fiscal plans and tax legislation at the local, state, and federal levels to assure that tax burdens are minimized, and we fight for actions such as positive state and municipal pension reform and fairness for Main Street brick and mortar stores in the ever-growing on-line marketplace.

The Healthcare Committee’s focus includes personal accountability, transparency, tort reform, consumerism and free-market policies that encourage competition in health care. The Committee hosts an annual Summit, coming up on October 9th, to help employers understand their choices for high-quality, cost-effective healthcare insurance for their employees.

The Manufacturing Council works to elevate the perception, and promote the importance of manufacturing in the Lehigh Valley. The Council partners with the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board and the Manufacturers Resource Center to host recurrent Summits to share new ideas, legislative updates, money-saving programs and best practices.  The next Manufacturers Summit is on October 29th.

The Energy and Environment Committee works to develop business-friendly policies and strategies that respect the environment.  The Chamber recently signed on to the US Chamber letter opposing the EPA’s Clean Power Plant regulations because of the excessive and unnecessary hardship they create for our member businesses. The Energy 7 environmental innovations Summit is on October 14th.

The Transportation Committee fights to ensure a safe transportation infrastructure that supports growth and serves businesses and residents.  The Committee hosts forums with legislators and other government representatives to hear their views and voice those of our members.

The Chamber is also actively involved in workforce and education issues, partnering with the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board. Together we help identify skill gaps, promote the importance of early childhood education, foster industry partnerships and internships, and help create community college courses to meet the needs of businesses and organizations in the Valley.
                       
Then we communicate all finalized policies and statements to our members and to the appropriate legislators and send media advisories after each policy statement is finalized.


As you can see, a large number of Chamber members participate in developing policies.  This is one of the premier services the Chamber provides its members. You are welcomed to participate in the process.

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