Work Intrudes

I get asked a lot about what I do for work after selling PangoMedia. I just wrapped up a months-long project and here is a piece on the conclusion of that effort. If you like to hear about this type of topic, let me know. I can post more.

Robert’s rules of order and microphone-amplified voices filled the LaPerouse Room at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage. Ninety-five business leaders from companies large and small – traveling from communities from Nome to Ketchikan – came to debate the merits, impacts and timeliness of many legislative positions. These positions define the core issues that impact the success of Alaskan businesses across the state. The culmination of hundreds of hours of work concluded on October 4th in the form of yes/no votes on the advocacy objectives that the Alaska Chamber will pursue during the 2013 legislative session.

Such was the setting for the Alaska Chamber’s 2012 Legislative Policy Forum.

The Alaska Chamber is unique in that it represents the interests of Alaska’s private sector businesses, regardless of region or industry. Straddling all of those disparate interests is a significant challenge. However, when there is alignment between such divergent business and regional interests, it lends an impressive level of credibility to the consensus opinion.

The legislative process is complex and potentially contentious. Sound policy positions are like a compass. Clear, concisely stated positions help keep the end objectives in focus. If in doubt or when struck with indecision, policy positions allow us to refocus our efforts and concentrate on the goal of generating success for Alaska’s job creators.

These position statements are not created in a vacuum, though. Alaska Chamber members craft them months in advance of the Policy Forum. The Legislative Affairs Committee works for weeks on each position; combining like interests, checking facts and fiscal implications, and forming suggested recommendations to the voting membership. For a position to be adopted, it must still gather a majority vote from the Alaska Chamber’s membership.

One member. One vote.

Retail stores, insurance companies, eco-tour guides and multi-national conglomerates… each are entitled to a single thumbs-up/thumbs-down vote at the Policy Forum. When businesses with interests that are so radically varied come to agreement on an issue, you can bet that it is of critical importance to the companies that provide jobs for Alaskans.

This year, twenty-five submissions survived the Policy Forum to become legislative priorities and positions for the 2013 legislative season. They include federal positions on Alaskan’s rights to access our own lands, on opposition to federal overreach with regards to emissions controls on our tourism industry and to the goods shipped into our state, and also on access to development opportunities on federal lands. They include state positions that call for consistent, predictable permitting processes that allow for the responsible development of Alaskan resources. In-state energy costs are an increasing burden on Alaska, with regards to both access and reliability. Alaska must also reform one of the most punitive tax regimes in the world to make our oil resources a competitively attractive prospect for investment and development.

Again… One member. One vote.

Job makers from every corner of the state agree that these issues are the keys to increasing success and prosperity for Alaskans.

Debate at the Policy Forum was lively this year. Thankfully, it was conducted with more decorum than a Vice Presidential candidate debate. Vigorous debate is understandable. The stakes are high. With the national economy struggling and the health of our state’s enviable cash reserves in question, Alaskan businesses have reason to pay attention.

When faced with adversity, business leaders do what they do best. Control costs. Find efficiencies. Avoid uncertainty. Demand accountability. These are core concepts of business and they apply when advocating for responsible governance, as well. Alaska cannot spend its way out of every challenging situation.

Alaska’s employers, the companies and organizations that provide a livelihood for Alaskan families in every community, agree that policies and projects that enhance economic growth must be advanced. The Alaska Chamber will work toward that end this November at polling stations and this coming January in the capital.

As the old saying goes, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu.”

The Alaska Chamber is the voice of Alaskan business. Join us at the table. Make your voice heard.

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