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GFOA Newsletter
May 18, 2017
Get a Jump-Start on the Annual Conference!

We look forward to seeing the more than 4,500 conference delegates including more than 580 first-time annual conference attendee scholarship recipients, beginning May 21 in Denver, Colorado, for GFOA’s 111th Annual Conference. If you have not yet checked out this year’s Program Guide, click here to start planning ahead (each attendee will receive a printed copy onsite in Denver). For some of the conference sessions, we ask that you please submit an RSVP. Please click here for details.

Notices of last-minute changes will be posted on the screens at GFOA’s Message Center in Lobby A of the Colorado Convention Center, @GFOA on Twitter (#GFOA2017), on GFOA’s mobile site (m.gfoa.org), and in the conference daily paper, GFOA Today.

See you in Denver!

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Association News
GFOA Files Comments on Proposed Amendments to SEC Rule 15c2-12

On May 15, 2017, GFOA filed comments in response to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed amendments to Rule 15c2-12. The letter reiterates that while GFOA promotes transparency in the market and actively supports activities to ensure that investors have appropriate information about municipal securities, GFOA has significant concerns with the SEC’s proposal. 

The letter reminds the SEC that GFOA has a long history of encouraging transparency in the municipal marketplace and urging our members to disclose material events to investors. Accordingly, GFOA supports efforts to ensure that municipal securities information is available to investors. However, the SEC should be aware of the considerable problems associated with adopting multiple changes to Rule 15c2-12 as proposed. The letter articulates why the proposed amendments would be burdensome to issuers, add complication for investors and the general public, and ultimately increase costs to taxpayers and investors. The proposed amendments would create significant administrative and costly burdens to state and local governments. The Federal Liaison center will continue to monitor the proposed amendment’s development and update members accordingly.

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Learn New Skills in Accounting, Budgeting, and Treasury Management

There’s still time to register for the following courses, June 26-30, at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel in Columbus, Ohio:

Save 10% on the registration fee when you sign up and pay in full by May 26. If you register with three or more colleagues for the same seminar, you will receive 10% off of each registration fee. (To receive the group discount, registrations must be received and paid together. This discount cannot be applied to online training registrations.)
Register today! (Registration form / Online)

A block of rooms has been reserved for GFOA attendees at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel. Based on availability, GFOA’s group rate is valid until June 4. Click here for more information about available rates.

We look forward to seeing you in Columbus! For information on what to do while in Columbus, visit Experience Columbus. If you have any questions about GFOA’s training seminars, contact GFOA

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House Takes First Step to Repeal and Replace Affordable Care Act

On May 4, 2017, after a hastily scheduled vote, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed the American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA) by a vote of 217-213. The bill’s passage happened just over a month after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) cancelled the chamber’s first attempt to vote on it after determining they did not have enough votes to advance it. The first attempt failed because more than 22 Republicans were firm No votes on the initial version of the bill, well more than the number that Ryan could afford to lose without needing Democratic votes. Ultimately, all Democrats voted No on the bill, and they were joined by 20 moderate Republicans who were concerned that the AHCA rolled back health-care benefits too much.

Over the course of the month since the first attempt to vote failed, House GOP leaders and the White House sought to make changes to the bill in order to garner support from the more conservative members in the Freedom Caucus. Among some of the more notable changes from the initial version are: states may opt-out of providing the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits, states may opt-out of requiring premiums to be the same for all people of the same age, states may opt-out of limiting premium differences based on age, and a new $15 billion fund for risk sharing was created to try and help states lower premiums. The AHCA now heads to the Senate, where it faces a highly uncertain future. Many GOP members have already spoken out against the bill. Senate leadership has already indicated that they intend to draft their own bill. If the Senate is successful, this would mean the two bills would go to conference where their differences would need to be resolved. The timing of any action in the Senate currently remains uncertain.

State Retirement Savings Plan Rule Set for Repeal

On May 3, 2017, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution to repeal a U.S. Department of Labor rule that eased requirements on states that created programs to automatically enroll private-sector employees in retirement savings plans. The rule, finalized by the Obama administration in August 2016, was intended to help private-sector workers who did not have access to a retirement savings account through their job. Opponents of the rule argued that if states created these programs, they should have to adhere to the same standards as private companies under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Proponents of the rule countered that this is a state’s rights issue and that Congress should not interfere, repealing the rule would further hinder the ability of individuals to save for retirement, and that a different standard was appropriate because the states only served as conduits and did not run the retirement plans of the private-sector workers. The resolution was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in February and is expected to be signed by President Trump. The White House previously signed into law the resolution rolling back the rule for retirement savings programs established by local governments for private-sector employees.

First-Time Distinguished Budget Award Recipients Announced

The following jurisdictions are first-time winners of GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award: San Francisco Public Works, California; City of Plant City, Florida; Village of Machesney Park, Illinois; City of Valley Center, Kansas; City of Stayton, Oregon; City of Celina, Texas; City of Jacksonville, Texas; and Midvalley Improvement District, Utah.

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News Links
Get the Most Out of Attending a Conference

“Attending conferences might be one of the best things you can do for your career,” according to the Muse. The first thing to think about is who you want to see. You’ll be meeting new people, but there will also be people you’ll want to reconnect with or get to know better. Seek those people out, ideally getting in touch before you get on the plane. Then, once you’re at the conference, look for meetings and gatherings that will allow you to find the kind of people you’d like to meet—first-time attendees, people from similar jurisdictions, and so on.

You might also want to plan your schedule before you leave. “Look at all the sessions and events you’re interested in, then make sure you’re getting to attend a range of topics, skill-building sessions, and social events, and still allowing for some down time,” the Muse suggests. And be disciplined about taking notes at those sessions so you can follow up or share information back at the office.

Do some networking. Make an effort to connect with the speakers, who are key experts in your field, and attend the social events so you can meet people in a more relaxed setting.

Don’t spend all your time checking your e-mails. A conference presents a special opportunity to learn and meet your fellow professionals, so don’t tune out.

When you get back to work, follow up with the people you most want to establish relationships with. Send an e-mail within a week, the Muse recommends. Then, send out notes or links to your coworkers to share the most valuable information you learned.

And finally, the Muse suggests that you consider asking to speak or moderate at the next conference—it will allow you to gain visibility and build stronger relationships. 

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Chicago’s Disposable Bag Is Working, Study Finds

The City of Chicago, Illinois, is tapping the concept of loss aversion to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags. People tend to weigh a loss more heavily than a gain, so when Chicago’s bag tax went into effect in February 2017, usage fell quickly, as consumers balked at paying seven cents a bag at the store. According to a new study, just the first month of data shows a 33% decrease in bags used. Reusable bag usage increased by 20% after the tax was added. The research suggests that a financial reward for bringing a reusable bag wouldn’t be as persuasive as a fee for asking for plastic, according to the study, since people are more likely to change their habits when they’re losing money.

Other U.S. cities tax bags, and another study found that Washington, D.C.—the first to pass such a policy, in 2010—had a response similar to Chicago’s, and disposable bag use has remained low.

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Funding Creates Greatest Barrier to Cybersecurity

Insufficient resources are the greatest barrier to achieving the highest levels of cybersecurity, according to ICMA’s Cybersecurity 2016 Survey. Although 32% of respondents said their local government information systems had experienced more attacks, incidents, and breaches during the past 12 months than in the previous period, 58% cited the inability to pay competitive salaries as the greatest barrier; 53% said they didn’t have enough cybersecurity staff; and 52% said the government generally lacked funds. All the news isn’t bad, though—77% of respondents said that their local government had developed rules governing the creation and changing of passwords, and 62% had policies governing the use of personally owned devices.

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Leaders Need to Give Positive Feedback 

Most of us have a negative voice in our heads that tells us what we do wrong is more important than what we get right. It makes sense, then, that negative feedback can feel more substantial than praise. “Most leaders feel more effective when giving criticism and less effective when giving positive feedback,” according to LeadershipFreak. Some managers therefore focus on the negative, and some just don’t give feedback—which feels like negative feedback. But studies have shown that positive feedback energizes employees, while negative feedback tends to have the opposite effect. The post suggests asking yourself if you have concerns about affirmation—if it doesn’t feel honest when the employee has weaknesses, for instance—and suggests a few ways to test those assumptions, such as checking out what happens when you honor effort, not just results.

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Editor: Marcy Boggs  |  Executive Director/CEO: Jeffrey Esser

The GFOA Newsletter (ISSN 1051-6964) is published weekly by
the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.
Correspondence regarding editorial and/or business matters should be sent to
GFOA, 203 N. LaSalle St., Suite 2700, Chicago, IL 60601-1210. Phone - 312/977-9700 FAX - 312/977-4806.


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