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Chamber eyes national economic issues

Posted: March 28, 2014 - 12:15am
Chris Eyler, Executive Director of the Northwest Region for Congressional and Public Affairs of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, speaks on the U.S. Chambers legislative priorities to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during its luncheon at the Hanger Ballroom on Thursday.  Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Chris Eyler, Executive Director of the Northwest Region for Congressional and Public Affairs of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, speaks on the U.S. Chambers legislative priorities to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during its luncheon at the Hanger Ballroom on Thursday.

As the nation nears the 2014 midterm election, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is concerned and excited about America’s economy at the same time.

Chris Eyler, executive director of the congressional and public affairs division of the U.S. Chamber’s northwest region, spoke to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during Thursday’s luncheon.

While the national advocacy organization for business is concerned with entitlement spending on the federal level — expected to double in the next decade — “not everything is doom and gloom,” Eyler said.

“We’re seeing a revolution in energy production right now,” he said.

Eyler added that the new development in the Lower 48 is taking place “in spite of” federal policies, and none of the work is taking place on federal land.

While the national chamber rarely deals with state-specific issues, Eyler said the group is monitoring Alaska’s looming vote on the repeal of the More Alaska Production Act.

“If ballot measure one passes, we are concerned,” Eyler said, adding that it would be “harmful” to the state economy.

After the meeting, Eyler stopped short of saying Alaska’s tax structure was a deterrent for new oil development, but he said the uncertainty of what that system will look like in the future is a factor companies have talked to his group about.

The national representative also discussed a hot-button issue with direct impacts on the economy: immigration reform.

“We need immigration to just keep up the pace,” Eyler said, citing a projected shortfall in American workers as more and more of the Baby Boomer generation retires.

He added that reform to “bring them out of the shadows” is needed to allow the approximately 11 million illegal immigrants in America to become contributors to the economy.

The national chamber is focusing its immigration reform lobbying efforts on four points: developing a better work visa system; improving the employer verification system so employers can know they’re hiring people authorized to work in the U.S.; creating an earned lawful worker status; and tightening border control.

“We cannot round up all 11 million people and just send them back,” Eyler said, because it would cripple some southern states’ economies.

In closing, Eyler turned his focus to the 2014 election cycle. Twenty-one Democrats — all of whom were elected during the party’s strong 2008 showing — are up for reelection in the U.S. Senate.

The national chamber considers three states — West Virginia, South Dakota and Arkansas — as elections Republicans are likely to win back from the Democrats. In the 2012 election, Republican Mitt Romney won all three states.

Alaska — with incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich up for reelection — is one of four states deemed true toss-ups that are impossible to call at this point, Eyler said.

“It’s too early to say what will happen,” he said.

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Tom Leston
Tom Leston 03/28/14 - 11:44 am
Repeal SB 21 by voting “YES” on Proposition 1 - in August

Chris, Alaskans want to repeal Senate Bill 21 because if we reduce taxes on the oil companies that means we have to increase things like property taxes on Alaskans to pay for things like education.

As you said there is an energy revolution going on and oil company profits have never been higher (woohoo!). However, regular people aren't doing as good.
You mentioned businesses are concerned with entitlement spending on the federal level.
We can reduce federal spending by — reducing subsidies and revamping the tax code. We should all pay our fair share and companies that outsource American jobs should pay more taxes not less. There are ways to reduce federal spending other than cutting "entitlement" programs, the public actually pays for Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment programs. Worker wages should also increase. Wages have flat lined while profits for many businesses have soared. Businesses that are doing great should invest in all their employees by increasing wages, which would help our economy and the federal treasury.
By voting YES for Proposition 1 in August, Alaskans can repeal SB 21, and have the chance to work on an oil tax system that is FAIR to "Alaskans" as well as to oil producers.

By voting for Senator Mark Begich we will keep programs like Social Security.

Judy Hodel
Judy Hodel 03/28/14 - 04:00 pm
Don't fall for it Vote Yes On 1

Under SB21, the more oil they pump, the less revenue the state gets. Read the bill. It's a stroke of genius for the industry and its puppet Parnell.

Production does not ramp up that fast. It will take 12 to 18 months to move new drilling equipment onto the slope and another 12 to 24 months to bring new production on line. Anyone who says production is up now because of SB21 is probably named Art Hackney.

And this will be one of the primary objectives of the oil companies. To convince us that things have turned around and that SB21 is actually working and the pipeline is filling back up with oil.

Don't fall for it.

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