The Vermont Chamber of Commerce was joined by four of its manufacturing members in an economic summit with China’s Consulate General on November 23. Meeting at the Vermont Chamber office in Berlin, Consulate General delegates and Vermont Chamber members talked about their current operations in China and expanding business opportunities there. ‘These are Vermont companies with Vermont values that are growing their businesses by building a stronger partnership with China,’ said Chamber President Betsy Bishop. ‘The Vermont Chamber set up this meeting with the Consulate General so these companies can be connected to the economic and government leadership of China.’ Among the Chinese delegates attending was Counsel General Sun Guoxiang, a veteran diplomat and official representative of the Chinese government tasked with facilitating trade between the United States and China. Often referred to as Ambassador Sun, he has held similar posts in Turkey, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Maldives. Sun holds ‘plenipotentiary’ rights, meaning he has been designated full authority to speak on behalf of President Hu Jintao. Participating in the meeting were Biotek Instruments of Winooski; North Hartland Tool of North Hartland; Country Home Products of Vergennes and SB Electronics of Barre. With a combined 600-plus jobs in Vermont and more in China, these four businesses are shining examples of Vermont’s economic potential, Bishop said. ‘The Vermont brand is known worldwide when it comes to foods and crafts, but it is equally impressive when it comes to manufacturing,’ Bishop added. ‘The Vermont Chamber uses its connections to help Vermont companies build partnerships and promote their products and services wherever they do business.’ The Vermont Chamber has maintained business relationships in China for over 15 years and has an office in Shanghai with staff to help Vermont businesses navigate the China market. With the recently awarded State Trade Export and Promotion grant from the Small Business Association, the Vermont Chamber will expand this effort to help small businesses reach global markets. Manufacturers’ Information· BioTek Instruments makes microplate-based instrumentation for the health care, pharmaceutical, agricultural and research industries. Employing 258 employees in Vermont, BioTek has 11 employees in its offices in Beijing and Shanghai. They also have staff in India, Singapore, and Korea; now employing an additional 21 people across the Asia Pacific region. Contact: Adam Alpert, Vice President, firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail)· Country Home Products manufactures lawn and garden equipment under the DR® and Neuton® brands. Employs over 200 in Vermont and operates a joint-venture based in Shanghai, China that employs four people. Contact: Joe Perrotto, CEO, Jperrotto@DRpower.com(link sends e-mail)· North Hartland Tool produces tooling, fixturing and gauging for the aviation, automotive and power generation industries, and also microdrills holes to diameters of .0016’. They employ 61 people in West Barnet and North Hartland and 27 in other states. In 2009, the company began manufacturing in Nanchang, China and has 11 employees there, which has enabled them to grow their business in Vermont. Contact: John Mullen, President, email@example.com(link sends e-mail)· SB Electronics develops and manufactures film capacitor products for automotive/transportation, alternative energy, military/aerospace, medical equipment and power supplies/laser uses. The company employees 74 people in Vermont and two employees in their Xiamen, China office. Contact: Ed Sawyer, President and CEO, Edward@sbelectronics.com(link sends e-mail) About the Vermont Chamber of CommerceThe Vermont Chamber of Commerce, the largest statewide, private, nonprofit business organization, represents nearly every sector of the state’s corporate/hospitality community. Our mission is to create an economic climate conducive to business growth and the preservation of the Vermont quality of life. Learn more at www.VTchamber.com(link is external).
House panel considers initiative process February 1, 2005 Assistant Editor Regular News House panel considers initiative process Melinda Melendez Assistant Editor Protecting pregnant pigs, banning certain kinds of fishing nets, creating expensive high-speed trains have all found their way into the Florida Constitution through the initiative process — and sparked controversy along the way.That was the hot topic of a January 12 workshop of the House Judiciary Committee — Chaired by Rep. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs — as changes to the process for amending the Florida Constitution were debated.During the meeting, the committee took testimony from Rep. Joe Pickens, R-Palatka, an attorney who chaired the 2004 Select Committee on Constitutional Amendments, in order to consider options for the 2005 legislative session. Pickens recommended — on behalf of the select committee — that the citizen initiative process be preserved. He also, however, acknowledged flaws in the existing system that he said needed to be reformed.In his presentation, Pickens paraphrased a report on constitutional amendments by the National Conference of State Legislatures.“If you’re considering a citizen initiative, don’t do it. After that consideration, if you still think you want to do it as a legislature, rethink that position and don’t do it. If you won’t heed that warning, then by all means don’t do what Florida did, which is create a mechanism to amend the constitution via citizen initiatives without a corresponding statutory initiative, and do it at the lowest threshold possible: 50 percent plus one.”While the process of constitutional amendment via citizen initiative took some heavy fire, the select committee recommended to retain the citizen initiative process as an appropriate method to amend the constitution. The committee contended the citizen initiative process allows Florida voters the opportunity to influence the basic structure of their government, and that public testimony last year confirmed the importance of the process to voters.The select committee also made recommendations that the House consider proposing constitutional reforms that would define what is proper subject matter for constitutional amendments proposed by citizen initiative; require the identification of new revenues for initiatives that have a fiscal impact, or “no hidden taxes”; and raise the vote threshold for passage to 60 percent. Pickens expressed particular concern about voter threshold.“The constitution, at least in my view, has never been intended to be a document that espouses the will of the majority, and certainly not a simple majority,” Pickens said. “The idea that the constitution can be amended at such a low threshold and become a document that simply promotes the will of the majority, like statutes do, rather than protecting a minority, is foreign to what any state or nation that has a constitution meant for it to be. I think the first thing we need to do is look at the vote threshold.”During the 2004 legislative session, the Senate passed a bill that required a 60 percent vote threshold on all proposed amendments (not just citizen initiatives); however, the House did not.In addition to testimony from last year’s Select Committee on Constitutional Amendments, the House Judiciary Committee also took testimony from several interest groups, several of which raised concerns regarding the role of special interests in the citizen initiative process.“This is not the same citizen initiative process that was introduced in the ’60s,” Doug Bailey, chief political officer of Associated Industries of Florida, told the committee. “Too often the process is hijacked by the special interest groups.”Mark Wilson, of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, elaborated: “This problem we have with our ballot initiative process is the single biggest problem facing Florida’s future. In the last election, we had six so-called ‘citizen initiatives’ whose political sponsors and opponents collectively spent approximately $70 million. All six of these amendments used professional, paid signature gatherers; and all six of these amendments passed. Clearly this process is no longer driven by the citizens, and is completely driven by the special interests.”Ben Wilcox, executive director of Common Cause Florida, agreed and said he had mixed feelings about the entire process.“It’s not easy to get an initiative on the ballot unless you have a lot of money. The initiative process is out of reach for true grassroots organizations, and only available now to people who have enough money. The fact that the special interests are increasingly using the initiative process is not a good trend, but I think that many of the restrictions that have been proposed in the past will only make the process more special-interest driven,” said Wilcox.Wilcox, however, went on to defend the merits of the citizen initiative process and reminded the committee of its virtues.“I don’t particularly like the fact that we have pregnant pigs and fishing nets in our constitution, but, I think, we have to remember that there are also amendments to our constitution that were put there through the initiative process that do belong there, and do pertain to the fundamental workings of government,” he said.“There are some things the legislature, by its nature, will never do. Reform of the reapportionment process is one example. I would argue the constitution is a suitable place to address that issue and a citizens’ initiative is probably the only way that would happen. I think one reason for the popularity of the initiative process is frustration over legislative inaction.”At one point during the discussion of flaws in the constitutional amendment process, committee member Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, said he understood why they are popular.For example, Gelber said, proponents of the class-size amendment “never got a hearing before this body,” and yet Florida “is the very worst in class size.. . . Clearly we could have done this by statute, but we chose not to give hearings. Why can’t we create a process that allows citizens to address us, that gives them another avenue?” Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, bristled at the suggestion that legislators aren’t responsive to the people they represent.“I keep hearing the frustration of the legislative process that we won’t act. I have to respond. Many of these special interests have been brought here. The representative elected by the people told the special interests ‘no,’ so they went and found another way to ask the question. I resent [the suggestion] that we don’t do our jobs.”The Judiciary Committee will continue to consider changes to the amendment process at future meetings.“Today is just the beginning of our discussion on these very weighty public policy issues. We will then embark upon, in the next committee meetings, a very detailed analysis of these issues. We look forward to working with any persons or organizations who are interested in the constitutional initiative process and the amendment process,” Simmons said.
CLASSIC SPORTS SCHEDULE FOR THE MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND:Saturday at 1:00 PM on AM-1300 KGLO — March 27, 2013 — Iowa men vs. Virginia in the NITMonday at 7:00 PM on AM-1490/96.7-FM KRIB — July 2013 — Clear Lake baseball vs. Waverly-Shell Rock, Class 3A district final BELMOND — Despite the go-ahead for summer sports from Governor Reynolds as well as the Iowa High School Athletic Association and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union board, Belmond-Klemme’s school board on Thursday night voted unanimously to cancel the summer baseball and softball seasons due to coronavirus concerns. Some school board members expressed concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in the county and questioned whether there would be a fall sports season as well. Belmond-Klemme is part of the Top of Iowa Conference. Wright County officials on Thursday announced that proactive surveillance testing of employees of the county’s larger employers turned up over 50 more positive cases of COVID-19. AMES — Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard expects the football season to start as scheduled. The Cyclones open at home on September 5th against South Dakota.KGLO News · 5 – 22 – Jpcovid – 1Pollard says the big question right now is how many fans will be part of the season opener.KGLO News · 5 – 22 – Jpcovid – 2Pollard says as of right now they could have the stadium about half full.KGLO News · 5 – 22 – Jpcovid – 3Pollard made his comments as part of the Cyclone Virtual Tailgate Tour. IOWA CITY — With campus facilities closed Iowa football players have been searching for fields to get in some workouts. It has not been easy. Most of the facilities in Johnson County have been shut down. Senior defensive end Chauncey Golston has been kicked off of several fields.KGLO News · 5 – 22 – Iafb – 1Golston says they have tried several different facilities.KGLO News · 5 – 22 – Iafb – 2Senior Ihmir Smith-Marsette and other receivers have found space to work with new starting quarterback Spencer Petras (peet-ris).KGLO News · 5 – 22 – Iafb – 3Smith-Marsette says they are running routes out of the playbook.KGLO News · 5 – 22 – Iafb – 4Senior defensive lineman Austin Schulte has been working out at his home in Pella.KGLO News · 5 – 22 – Iafb – 5Schulte has transformed his family garage into a weight room.KGLO News · 5 – 22 – Iafb – 6Iowa is scheduled to open the football season September 5th against Northern Iowa