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Dec. 1 - Georgia Chamber's Legislative Priorities include opposition to raising minimum wage

Dublin Business Journal Staff Report

December 1, 2016 - The Georgia Chamber of Commerce has released its 2017 Legislative Priorities.  The list includes continued opposition to raising the minimum wage in Georgia. 

Included in the Chamber's extensive list of priorities for the 2017 session is: 

- Support efforts to strengthen and protect Georgia’s “Right to Work” law and employment-at-will doctrine.

- Opposes legislative or regulatory efforts to create imbalance in the workplace, including Federal proposals that would eliminate secret ballot elections in the workplace

- Supports the rights of business and property owners to determine appropriate policies and regulations regarding access to weapons in the workplace and on their property.

 - Supports legislation that allows “market force principles” to work in the state’s economy. More competition, rather than increased government intervention, best serves Georgia’s economy and consumers, and speeds products and innovation to the market.

- Opposes legislation, policies, or the use of symbols that support or promote, or appear to support or promote, discriminatory practices, but states that “decisions to remove historical monuments or symbols, should largely be made at the local level.”

- Supports free trade agreements to expand worldwide market access to U.S. companies and their products. The Chamber supports:  the elimination of duplicate layers of regulation that are overly burdensome and stifle economic growth; changes to state, Federal, and local regulatory processes that will help ensure government rulemaking and regulations are based on sound science, rigorous peer-reviewed technical analysis, and the best available data; subjecting proposed rule-making and regulations to appropriate cost-benefit analysis and regular review to evaluate their efficacy and to eliminate costly, arcane and antiquated requirements; and efforts to provide businesses credit for all good faith efforts to comply with laws and regulations and the expeditious correction of any violations of self-imposed or mandated requirements.

- On Immigration, “The Georgia Chamber of Commerce understands that immigration is a pressing issue for Georgia businesses. Immigration challenges impose restrictions on retaining and hiring talented professionals and laborers. If such challenges are not addressed, the U.S. will see a decline in the availability of skilled workers. The lack of skilled workers will result in the off-shoring of businesses.” 

- In 2011, the General Assembly passed HB 87 to address securing the state’s borders and reducing the economic strain of illegal immigrants. The General Assembly took further action in 2013 to revise the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act in SB 160 to deal with the administrative responsibilities of employment eligibility. “On this issue, the Chamber continues to encourage and support efforts led by the Federal government to establish a national, lawful, manageable, and monitored guest and essential worker program to fill the growing gaps in our state’s workforce, recognizing that, in some cases, permanent immigrants will be needed to fill labor shortages,” the Chamber states.

- The Chamber supports “efforts that promote Georgia as a pro-military state and help the state prepare for growth should another Base Realignment & Closure Commission (BRACC) convene. Alternative Work Options.

 - Supports efforts by its members and government to encourage telecommuting, teleworking, and alternative work schedules that can be practical solutions to human resource constraints, employee quality of life and environmental issues. These arrangements often benefit Georgia businesses through increased employee productivity and motivation, improved employee work-life balance, reduced vehicular pollution and traffic, government-sponsored financial incentives, and increased employment opportunities for disabled, rural, and older workers, as well as spouses of those in the military.

- Regarding Rural Economic Development, “Georgia’s interstate infrastructure and geographical landscape hinders the ability of our rural areas to locate projects and create jobs. The lack of economic development results in a young workforce fleeing to metropolitan areas for opportunities while the older workforce is without transferable skill sets. The current situation has crippled the ability of rural areas of the state to revive staple industries and attract new industries. To improve this situation,” they state.  

- The Georgia Chamber opposes proposals to raise the minimum wage. The organization believes that this type of government interference in a business’ market-driven activities could jeopardize existing and future employment for Georgians.

- And, the Chamber opposes proposals to narrow the exemptions from overtime pay. This includes USDOL’s pending proposal which would more-than-double the current minimum salary which is necessary for certain categories of employees to be treated as exempt under the executive, administrative, or professional exemptions from FLSA overtime pay.

- Opposes any additional extension of unemployment benefits. Because the unemployment-insurance (UI) program is an experience-based system, the amount of UI taxes employers pay varies; however, the state’s expedited repayment of Federal loans has resulted in higher UI taxes for most Georgia employers.

- Supports creating public and private-sector online learning opportunities and accreditations that are individually tailored, adequately funded, and available in both full-time and hybrid

- Supports a comprehensive state energy plan with protection of Georgia’s environment and use of its natural resources as key elements; · a competitive marketplace, and the expansion of domestic offshore oil and gas exploration “while remaining diligent in protecting estuarine and marine habitats,” the Chamber states, and tax incentives for energy development and infrastructure, including retrofitting and conversion of current vehicles and investment in new vehicles for use of alternative fuels

- Supports state and regional water planning initiatives and the rigorous promotion of a statewide “culture of conservation” that, together, continue to drive the expansion of water-use efficiency and sustainable community and business water-use management practices.

The Chamber’s complete list of legislative priorities can be found at https://www.gachamber.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/2017-GCC-Policy-Statement-FINAL.pdf

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