Public Policy
 

November 2010
Ordinances That May Impact Your Business

The Gilbert Chamber is currently working on the following items that may impact your business:
If Prop 203 passes on November 2nd, medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation sites will be allowed to open in Gilbert and other Arizona communities. The Chamber is working with the Town on an ordinance that will restrict placement of facilities in regards to schools, churches, residents, parks, etc. 
 
A public nuisance ordinance is being discussed at the Town; the Chamber is investigating its impact on businesses as it relates to property or equipment becoming unsafe or deficient such as vacant structures, broken windows, trash, etc.

Replenishing the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and paying back the federal loan to keep this fund solvent is key to keeping business rates low. Options to do so are being discussed at the State level which may include a temporary increase in taxes to secure our current 5.4% credit from the federalgovernment because of our previous healthy fund balance. Our EVCCA lobbyists are actively participating in these discussions.

The EVCCA is finalizing our annual Legislative Agenda which will be presented to our East Valley Legislators in December. The Agenda outlines important business issues and priorities that may come before the Legislature in January.

The Chamber has been actively involved in the rewriting of the General Plan which will go before the voter's next May. You can find out more about the changes by visiting www.gilbertaz.gov.

Your Chamber continues to work on your behalf! If you'd like to get involved in our public policy committee, please contact Kathy at 480-892-1103 or by e-mail at kathy@gilbertchamber.com

 

October 2010
Protecting the Right of Secret Ballot a Top Priority for Local Chambers
We cannot stress enough the importance of getting your employees out to vote - of particular importance is to constitutionally protect the right of a secret ballot when it pertains to employee- representation elections. We cannot afford apathy regarding support for this issue; not voting is truly an opposition vote in this case. Those trying to eliminate this basic right of your employees, and you as a business owner, are well organized and will get people out to vote.

The East Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance has evaluated the numerous ballot issues as to how they impact the business community. Please reference this easy-to-use chart of our recommended positions and share with your employees.

Click here for a complete voter's guide, including complete descriptions of these propositions.

  
September 2010
Governor Brewer Speaks at Chamber Luncheon
Governor Jan Brewer spoke to members of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce on August 19th at a luncheon sponsored by Mercy Gilbert Medical Center.

In response to an inquiry about Obama Care and its burden to the state, the governor replied, "It's obvious that Arizona is not going to be able to sustain it. We are barely able to sustain what we deliver today and, if in fact it becomes effective in the manner in which it is now, it will cost you and I-the tax payers of Arizona-about ten billion dollars."

Governor Brewer also placed an emphasis on the importance of education, from elementary through college graduation and emphasized her priority to protect funding for it.

"[Prop 100] is a one cent sales tax that was put into the constitution to be used two-thirds for education and the other third for public safety," the governor said. "You've got a commitment from me; you've got a commitment from the constitution; that this is the way it is going to take place."


Click here to view video excerpts or a photo album of the luncheon.

 
August 2010
Chamber Endorses Pro-Business Dist. 22 Candidates
The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce endorses candidates in an effort to educate our membership about those candidates who will best be a friend of business while in office.

The Gilbert Chamber invited all District 22 candidates to participate in a questionnaire and candidate forum. Each candidate was scored on their ability to recognize and understand business issues, support for business priorities, background and experience, as well as an informal survey of our members present at the forum. The Chamber's formal endorsement policy and official positions on business issues were used as the foundation of this ranking.

There is one seat available in the Senate and two seats available in the House. After careful consideration, the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce endorses candidate Andy Biggs for Senate and and candidates Eddie Farnsworth, Laurin Hendrix, and Steve Urie for the House seats.

 
Check out our website for more information about each of the District 22 candidates as we have posted their written responses to our questionnaire and video clips from our candidate forum.

Your voice is very important! Mark your calendar to vote on August 24! Please share this information with your employees - every vote counts for your business.

 
Senator McCain Visits with, Takes Questions from Chamber Members
 
Senator McCain brought news from the nation's Capitol to more than 100 Chamber members in July. Key topics of discussion were the economy and the importance of small businesses, the national health care bill, and national border security.

Senator McCain noted Republican candidates must commit that they will "balance the budget, repeal or replace Obamacare, and institute the line item veto" to get this country turned around.

"John Kyl and I have put together a ten-point plan to address immigration which is making progress," announced McCain. He reiterated that border security must be top priority, a fair guest worker program approved secondly, and then a system developed to deal with those individuals who are here and contributing to their families and the community.

The Senator supports tax relief for small businesses. He believes we must institute medical malpractice reform to reduce health care costs; creating risk pools for those with pre-existing conditions, and allowing small businesses to form association groups to reduce premiums.

The event also honored Senator McCain with the presentation of the U.S. Chamber's Spirit of Enterprise Award for his support of businesses with regard to federal issues.

A special 'thank-you' to sponsors APS, Arizona Bank & Trust, National Bank of Arizona, and SRP for their support of this important event.

Click here to view a photo album of this and other Chamber events!

July 2010
Town Council Approves Temporary Signs

Town Council members voted to approve sign code changes to relieve restrictions for temporary signage which is most beneficial for small businesses suffering from visibility issues. The Chamber surveyed its membership last fall and has been working with the Town since to encourage these changes.

Businesses will now be able to place up to a maximum of two (2) A-frame signs and/or flying banners combined-one on each street frontage. They may display a total of three (3) of these signs which include a combination of street frontage signs and within their parking areas. In addition, they may display special sales event signage up to 8 days per month. Businesses 10,000 sq. ft. or less are eligible in commercial areas and businesses up to 30,000 sq. ft in business parks. 

The temporary sign code amendment will be brought back before the Council in 21 months to revisit the effectiveness of these changes. The Chamber has also met with Town Staff and Council urging them to invest in the technology needed to allow businesses to apply for permits online with fillable forms and credit card payments.

Chamber members worked tirelessly to promote these changes and we are pleased with the Council's vote. The Chamber will be updating a temporary signage brochure and website link in the near future to assist businesses. Here's how the Council voted; a 'yes' vote indicates support for the Chamber's position.

Yes - Abbott, Cooper, Crozier, Daniels, Lewis, Presmyk, Sentz
No - n/a 

 
Chamber Meets with Town Council to Present Local Priorities
Members of the Chamber's Board and Public Policy committee met with the Mayor and Town Council along with the Town's executive leadership team on June 15th. In addition to an update on the Chambers' new programs and community service, a 5-year tourism strategic plan was presented and the public policy committee offered its 2010 Local Priorities to ensure "Long-term Community Sustainability through a Healthy
Business Environment."

"The priorities were well received by the Council and it was gratifying to learn that we are on the same page in regards to long-term strategic planning; reasonable taxes, fees, and regulations; as well as, efficiencies through technology investment," said Kathy Tilque, president and CEO. "We were pleased to have more than 40 active members in attendance to share these priorities from their unique standpoint."

 
To view these priorities, click here.
 
June 2010
Small Businesses Win Big with Council’s Approval of Temporary Signs
Town Council members voted to approve sign code changes to relieve restrictions for temporary signage which is most beneficial for small businesses suffering from visibility issues. The Chamber surveyed its membership last fall and has been working with the Town since to encourage these changes.

Businesses will now be able to place up to a maximum of two (2) A-Frame signs and/or flying banners combined, one on each street frontage. They may display a total of three (3) of these signs which include a combination of street frontage signs and within their parking areas. In addition, they may display special sales event signage up to 8 days per month. Businesses 10,000 sq. ft. or less are eligible in commercial areas and businesses up to 30,000 sq. ft in business parks.

The temporary sign code amendment will be brought back before the Council in 21months to revisit the effectiveness of these changes. The Chamber has also met with Town Staff and Council urging them to invest in the technology needed to allow businesses to apply for permits online with fillable forms and credit card payments.

“Chamber members worked tirelessly to promote these changes and we are pleased with the Council’s vote,” said Kathy Tilque, president and CEO. The Chamber will be updating a temporary signage brochure and website link in the near future to assist businesses. Here’s how the Council voted, a yes vote indicates support for the Chamber’s position.


 
Town Prop 406 Fails at Polls, Council Appoints Seat
 
More than 36,000 voters visited the polls last month to take positions on state proposition 100 and town proposition 406. Although voters passed the state's temporary tax increase of 1 cent, they did not pass the Town's permanent increase.

The Chamber showed support for both increases but with some hesitation in regard to Prop 406.

"The Chamber's hesitation was that it did not include a sunset clause," said Kathy Tilque, president and CEO of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce. "However, without this money, I'm concerned town officials will raise fees to businesses to make up for budget's shortfalls."

According to Tilque, Chamber members will work with the Town and members of Town Council to minimize the impact to businesses. "They will be faced with some difficult and historic decisions as they prepare for build-out," Tilque said of the Town Council.

Recently, the Gilbert Town Council filled its seventh and vacant seat with the appointment of Ben Cooper, Development Manager for Catalyst Commercial Group in Phoenix.


EVCCA Reflects on Jobs Recovery Act, Insurance ReFrom Bills

 

The Arizona Legislature gaveled to a close in late April ending one of the shortest legislative sessions in nearly a decade. This year was dominated by headline-grabbing issues and a challenging economy. In addition to budget cuts, immigration bills and gun enthusiast legislation, several issues of interest to business made it through the legislative process. Two issues of note did not make it through the legislative process, including:

Arizona Jobs Recovery Act - HB 2250
In January Speaker of the House Kirk Adams introduced an ambitious set of tax law changes designed to generate jobs in Arizona. The bill was based in part on an Elliot Pollack economic study that suggested Arizona focus on growth industry jobs rather than relying on construction for prosperity.

The bill included the following:
Restructuring the Arizona Job Training Program to model it after successful programs in other states
Creating the Arizona Opportunity Fund for grants needed to attract appropriate manufacturing businesses to the state
Shifting Arizona's enterprise program from a social need based instrument to a job creating mechanism
Reducing Arizona's disadvantageous business property tax assessment ratio

Eliminating the Arizona Equalization Assistance Property Tax
Reducing the Corporate Income Tax rate
Shifting to a single sales apportionment formula
Reduces the individual income tax rates to encourage small business growth
Creates a tax incentive for job creation through withholding tax deductions

The EVCCA was the first Chamber organization to testify in support of HB 2250. The EVCCA in conjunction with the Local Chambers Committee of the Arizona Chamber Executives took the lead on authoring a letter signed by 23 business organizations throughout the state supporting a jobs package for Arizona. While HB 2250 did not move forward this session, the issue is far from resolved.

Unemployment Insurance Reform - SB 1041
The East Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance and other members of the business community attempted to manage a deficit in the state unemployment insurance fund. For the first time in Arizona history, the fund had to borrow money from the federal government in March. The business community lobbied legislation that would have paid back the loan at a tolerable rate. However, attempts to adjust unemployment insurance rates have been placed on hold while the full impact of the loan is determined.

These and many other complex business issues will be scored in the East Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance Report Card. The report card will be available as an insert in the July newsletter. Should you have any questions about the aforementioned or any other business issues before the Arizona Legislature please feel free to contact East Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance lobbyists, Tom Dorn, Eric Emmert and Heather Bernacki at (602) 606-4667.


February 2010
There has been a lot going on behind the scenes in the public policy arena at the Chamber as we have surveyed our members on the sign code, sent recommendations to our Council members and are anxiously awaiting a meeting.

Other items we have been working on are the Heritage District Guidelines, General Plan Update, Citizen’s Budget Committee and, of course, legislative issues.


 

 

Chamber sends letter to Town officials and staff requesting changes to current Sign Code regarding temporary signage restrictions/options

Based on feedback from our members, the chamber's Public Policy Committee has submitted a letter to Town of Gilbert officials and staff to recommend several changes to the current sign code ordinance in an effort to lift restrictions on all businesses across the community.

"Obviously, the more successful our businesses are, the more successful our community is in collecting sales tax and property tax dollars that pay for the services we all enjoy", said Susan Brechbill, chair of the chamber's Board of Directors. "We need to evaluate ways to lessen restrictions to help businesses, now more than ever. Do we really need permits for temporary signage? Can we lessen restrictions and allow more flexibility in types of temporary signage while maintaining quality and consistency? These are the issues we will be discussing as we meet with Town officials."

A
flier can be found on the Chamber's web site outlining the recommendations we will take forward to the Town but a quick summary is as follows:
  • Expand the types of A-frame signs allowed to include sizes; eliminate the restriction on the size of businesses and number of signs allowed.
    Allow Flying Banner signs with reasonable height restrictions, a secured base, and placement.
  • Change the sign code regarding banners to require online notification instead of permitting.
  • Allow special event temporary signage with time restrictions, online notification and expanded signage opportunities.
  • Add a new section to allow Boulevard Signs on light poles for shopping centers.
  • Develop an online permit application for permanent signs.
"Based on the feedback we have received, it appears that temporary signage is very important to a segment of our business community that is very focused on attracting foot traffic and those who are newer businesses trying to create a customer base as they grow their business," said Kathy Tilque, president/CEO of the chamber. "For those businesses who are more established and don't require new foot traffic, the temporary signage doesn't seem to be a priority on their marketing plan."

In addition to working with the town to make these changes, the Chamber will also publish a brochure that outlines the opportunities and restrictions of temporary signage that will be distributed to businesses throughout the community.

"We truly appreciate our members taking time to complete this survey. Respondents represent a good cross section of our entire business community," explained Tilque. "Respondents also represented the makeup of the Chamber's membership as 53 percent of those who responded have been in business six years or longer and 56 percent have six or more employees."