While the Georgia Chamber of Commerce outlined its legislative priorities today, the Savannah Chamber initially presented its list in December. On Jan. 31, Chamber members and other civic figures will present that list to legislators in Atlanta during the annual Savannah Chatham Day activities.
Courtney Hester, the Chamber's government relations manager explains in a column that will appear in BiS on Jan. 23:
One of the most important functions of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce is advocating for business interests in state and local government. The Chamber keeps a registered lobbyist on staff to develop an agenda based on local and state issues and to motivate state legislators to take action toward those agenda items.
The Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Savannah Chatham Day will be held in Atlanta on Thursday, Jan. 31. Each year, more than 250 Chamber members and local elected leaders travel to the Capitol to meet with our state elected officials while also providing some southern hospitality.
For the day-long event, meetings will begin at 2 p.m. in Atlanta at the Appropriations Hearing Room. From 5–8 p.m., the annual Seafood Festival will take place at the Georgia Railroad Depot. Tickets are $100 and are available for Chamber members only. Tickets are limited, so we encourage you to make reservations soon.
This year, the Chamber’s legislative agenda features priorities ranging from harbor deepening to statewide tourism marketing efforts. To learn more about the issues, please read our agenda that runs with this article.
It is important that our community leaders attend these events as the business community needs broad-based support to enhance our policy issue statements. Our community’s legislative successes in Atlanta over the past several years are tied to the lobbying efforts made by our community leaders.
It takes strong encouragement from Savannah to get the state to help fund projects such as expanding the capacity of the Savannah Harbor. Without the state’s participation, such projects wouldn’t be where they are today.
Savannah Chatham Day starts this annual lobbying process. While the reception is important to show our appreciation for all our state does for the Savannah region, the meetings and the necessary education are the substance of this trip to Atlanta. With a weakened economy and severe state budget reductions, our support is needed more than ever.
As for accommodations, the Chamber has a couple of room blocks. While the W Midtown may be sold out for Savannah Chatham Day, the Chamber’s supplemental room block is at the new Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Midtown at a rate of $139. The group code for this hotel is SAVA and their phone number is 404-524-4006.
To purchase tickets for the event, please contact Margaret Mary Russell 912-644-6432 or MRussell@SavannahChamber.com.
Courtney Hester is the government relations manager for the Savannah Area Chammber of Commerce. She may be contacted at CHester@SavannahChamber.com or 912-644-6406.
Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce
2013 State Legislative Agenda
• Support the governor’s funding request for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.
• Support removal of the sunset provision related to sales tax exemptions on general aviation parts.
• Support request for State funding to supplement local and federal Tybee Beach Re-nourishment funds.
• Health care:
o Support legislation that secures increased federal matching funds for Georgia’s Medicaid and sales tax exemptions for non-profit hospitals.
o Support budget policy that allows both hospital systems in Savannah to remain viable while still providing superior health care.
o Support dedicated source of funding for a trauma network.
• Support tourism’s statewide return on investment with additional resources and marketing funds.
• Support the Board of Regents’ capital projects request, including Savannah State University, Armstrong ATlantic State University and the Skidaway . SU, AASU, and the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography.
• Support sunset provision extension of the 2010 HB 1128 Carry-forward Legislation, giving the University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia the ability to carry forward specified local revenues collected at 3% and 15% respectively.