BULLHEAD CITY — Representatives from chambers of commerce and other agencies recently had the opportunity to discuss business-related legislative matters with their state representatives during the annual Chamber Advocacy Day at the Legislature.
Coordinated by Arizona Chamber Executives, the event offered an avenue for chambers of commerce from across the state to work together and advocate for Arizona businesses at local, state and federal levels.
“A lot of people don’t understand what the chamber does,” said John Pynakker, Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce executive director. “This is one of those things that flies a little under the radar, but if you’re a chamber member you can get on this Business and Government Affairs committee and represent yourself and your business — that’s where it starts, you make your voice heard. We will take that voice and go and speak with the people who need to hear it.”
In addition to a Wednesday evening welcome session with state representatives, the gathering offered a slate of presentations and state and federal legislative updates on Thursday.
“The best part is sitting down with our local legislators [to] talk about the things we really need them to hear,” Pynakker said. “On Thursday, we heard a presentation from the Senate president, Steve Yarbrough and then Gov. (Doug) Ducey spoke for 15-20 minutes about things that he’s accomplished over the past year and things that he is looking at for the coming year, all business related.”
Pynakker said among the topics he discussed with local legislators were water issues and the Department of Revenue’s attempt to sweep unclaimed assigned capital credits from rural electric cooperatives.
The Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce also offered the opportunity to attend the legislative gathering to area agencies and local government.
“In addition to members of our Business and Government Affairs committee, we also had (Bullhead City) Mayor Tom Brady, Anthony Kozlowski, city administrative analyst, and Colorado River Union High School District Superintendent Riley Frei,” Pynakker said. “Between us, Lake Havasu City and Kingman, we probably had about 20 people go down in a group.”
Brady said he found the trip productive.
“Business is what makes our community and Bullhead City wants to do everything that it can to support our businesses and oftentimes that’s through supporting our chamber activities,” he said. “I’m very proud of the relationship that we have with our local chamber.”
In addition to the business-related issues, the mayor said he took the opportunity to discuss issues of importance to the city with state legislators and other officials, including the state land manager regarding a state land issue in the city.
“We follow legislation closely,” Brady said. “I was on an Arizona League of Cities and Towns telephonic conference call on Monday; they are following six or seven bills and two of those concern us greatly. We’ve registered our complaints, we’ve sent resolutions and we’ve entered our opinions on the legislative websites. We do what we need to do when there is something that directly impacts us that is of the utmost importance.”
Frei said he feels it is extremely important to be present at every possible opportunity to give voice to the need for significant funding increases for Arizona schools.
“Arizona is facing an unprecedented challenge to its education system, Frei said. “Unfortunately, when it comes to recruiting the best teachers from universities across the nation, we simply are unable to compete with substantially higher salaries offered by other states — our children deserve better.”
Frei said he was concerned about the information from representatives that education is the primary focus of this year’s budget, and that the legislators are considering a 2 percent salary raise for teachers, is misleading.
“In my humble opinion, a 2 percent raise is not really much of a focus on the most critical piece of education,” Frei said. “Our teachers can leave their positions today and work in neighboring states and obtain an increase of 25 percent or better to their salary. Thus, I just don’t feel that our elected officials really understand the urgency of this situation.”
In spite of his concerns, Frei said he thought it was productive to attend the event.
“On a positive note, I am extremely proud of the fact that I was able to join the mayor, city staff and the chamber director as teammates in this endeavor,” he said. “I feel that we continued to promote the positive image our city has developed and hope that I am able to continue contributing at such opportunities in the future.”