Portland community chamber initiatives and a recap of legislative and business goings-on

By Chris Hall, CEO, Portland Regional Chamber
Posted April 16, 2013, at 10:47 a.m.

With the state house largely at ease this week let’s take a look around the region at some of the advocacy work being done at the local level by our Community Chambers.

To begin with, it’s worth noticing that the vast majority of municipal advocacy is done by our volunteers. That means we have Chamber members attending local meetings, sitting down to discuss issues with elected officials and staying in touch with the broader community’s interests. It’s truly a grassroots effort by our Community Chamber volunteers.

Another notable thing is the absence of conflict. Community Chambers work hard to find common ground – it’s a rare thing to hear folks arguing. In fact, almost every local advocacy effort begins with education: First of our members get educated, and then they help educate others in the community.

Education leads to employers giving elected officials and municipal staff their perspectives. Often public officials reach out to our Chambers to find out what Main Street thinks about a new issue. And from that process you’ll usually see an agreement – often a compromise – that melds our members’ views into the whole community’s. Right now the Scarborough Community Chamber is working with the Scarborough Economic Development Corp. and the Town Council to implement an economic development plan, much like the Portland Community Chamber is doing with City Hall and Mayor Brennan. The Falmouth/Cumberland Community Chamber has been working effectively on Route 1 changes, and is planning an educational workshop on the project’s finances. The Westbrook/Gorham Community Chamber is re-forming its advocacy team, while the South Portland/Cape Elizabeth Community Chamber is helping to find members for the City’s comprehensive planning implementation effort.

That’s five Community Chambers, active in eight municipalities, with over 150 volunteers contributing to make sure that local government and businesses are working together to improve our economy and support our communities. If you want to be a part of all this, just let me know.

Notable Read: Some days there’s just too much to read. If you only have time for one thing:

With the session about half way done Senator Troy Jackson and Rep. Ken Fredette each wrote about how the legislature is doing this year. Their views are worth reading, and keeping in mind when the partisan winds blow.

Spotlight Legislation: Only three committees have work scheduled this week at the state house – click here to see what’s happening. Next week things go back into overdrive (use the same link, but enter ‘April 22’ to see over 180 public hearings and work sessions).

In the State House: The Governor’s liquor deal was singled out as the best plan for the state ( PPH, BDN, MPBN), and the Attorney General said it would pass constitutional muster ( BDN).

A hearing on a bill to overturn the law allowing employees to keep firearms in their vehicles at work received support from employers, but much opposition as well ( PPH, MPBN).

Comment on the tone at the state house, the Governor’s approach to the legislative process and the link to the next election came from the BDN editors, Greg Kesich, Alan Caron, Matt Gagnon and Mike Cuzzi. Elsewhere:

State Policy round-up:

Around the Region: GoLocal rated South Portland and Portland as the number 2 and 3 cities respectively in New England ( BDN). USM is in the middle of budget reductions ( PPH, BDN). Lease negotiations continued at the Cumberland County Civic Center ( PPH, PDS). Elsewhere:

Contact your local officials: Visit our website to find links to all your municipal and state house officials. Remember – if you don’t speak out, the people who represent you have no way to know what you think. So keep those email, calls and visits coming.

Digging Deeper at the State House: Most of you probably don’t want to find daily schedules at the state house, research copies of every piece of testimony submitted at every public hearing, track the status of a particular bill, find contact info for Committees, or House members, or Senators, or listen to public hearings on the computer, or watch selected state house proceedings on MPBN’s Capitol Connection. But if you do, just follow the links. The state house is increasingly accessible to the public, at least to those who put in a little work.

Back issues: Miss a Policy Update? Want to find that story or link that you lost track of? Just click here for recent back issues of Policy Update.

Feedback: What do you think? We’d love to have your thoughts on anything you’ve read here, or other topics that are important to you. The more you talk to us, the better we’ll represent your views. Send an email to share your feedback with me – and thank you!

Partners for Progress Policy Updates from the Portland Regional Chamber are supported by generous contributions from our Partners for Progress. For more information about joining the Portland Regional Chamber just click here.

 

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/04/16/business/portland-community-chamber-initiatives-and-a-recap-of-legislative-and-business-goings-on/ printed on October 26, 2014