Monday, June 27, 2011

Supreme Court matching funds decision a victory for free speech

Today is a great day for the First Amendment.
On a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the matching funds portion of Arizona’s publicly funded elections scheme.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said, “Arizona’s matching funds scheme substantially burdens political speech and is not sufficiently justified by a compelling interest to survive First Amendment scrutiny.”
The matching funds element of the law was always the most offensive to champions of free speech and of robust, competitive elections. We will not mourn its passing.
Under the matching funds system, publicly funded candidates received a dollar for every dollar their traditionally funded opponent spent over a set monetary cap.

The proponents for publicly funded elections claimed matching funds leveled the playing field. But what matching funds really did was tell traditionally funded candidates, their donors and independent expenditure groups to hit the mute button.

Regarding matching funds’ effect on independent expenditures, the majority writes, “In some ways, the burdens imposed on independent groups by matching funds are more severe than the burdens imposed on privately financed candidates. “

The Court goes on to say, “As a result, those groups can only avoid matching funds by changing their message or choosing not to speak altogether. Presenting independent expenditure groups with such a choice – trigger matching funds, change your message, or do not speak – makes the matching funds provision particularly burdensome to those groups and certainly contravenes the ‘fundamental rule of protection under the First Amendment, that a speaker has the autonomy to choose  the content of his own message.’”

Publicly funded elections are a bad idea, but the matching funds provision made the system even worse.  The death of matching funds is the canary in the coal mine for the whole publicly funded elections scheme, as I’m confident voters in November 2012 will choose to ban the use of public funds for political campaigns entirely.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

NLRB continues job-killing march

In a post on the National Association of Manufacturers’ Shopfloor blog, NAM VP for Human Resources Policy Joe Trauger writes that the National Labor Relations Board has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to shorten the time for union certification elections.  Says Trauger, “These so-called snap elections are the latest attempt by the NLRB to effectively do for the unions what Congress wouldn’t – stack the deck in their favor.”

The NLRB is racking up points in the business community as the most tone-deaf federal agency.

On the heels of its aggressive action against states with laws guaranteeing a secret ballot in union organizing elections and its blatantly anti-business pursuit of sanctions against Boeing for that company’s establishment of an assembly line in the right-to-work-state of South Carolina, this latest proposed rule by the NLRB is yet another job killer.

If this is the administration’s idea of how to streamline regulations, then it needs to go back to the drawing board.

In all of my conversations with Arizona’s job creators, no one has ever pointed to slow union certification elections as a barrier to making our state more competitive for job growth.

As Trauger writes, “What’s broken in the system they’re trying to fix?  In 2009, labor unions won 68.5 percent of representation elections.  Furthermore, 95 percent of all elections are conducted within 56 days of the filing petition submitted by the union.  In 2010, the average time from filing of the petition to election was 31 days.”

President Obama has called for U.S. exports to double over a five-year period. With his record on labor, though, all we’ll be exporting is jobs.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry