RELEASE: SPEAKER PHILIP GUNN ELECTED VICE CHAIR OF THE SOUTHERN LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE

Little Rock, Arkansas – Delegates to the 68th Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), the Southern Office of The Council of State Governments, unanimously elected Speaker Philip Gunn of Mississippi vice chair of the Conference. Speaker David Ralston of Georgia and Senate President Robert Stivers of Kentucky were nominated and subsequently elected chair and chair elect, respectively.

Program highlights of the 68th annual meeting included an opening plenary session featuring Bill Courtney, president and CEO, Classic American Hardwoods and former volunteer football coach at Manassas High School, and a closing plenary with Joe Quinn, senior director of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Walmart. Each annual meeting focuses, in part, on the innovative programs of the Host State, and topics addressing Arkansas’s many successful programs. Features this year included Arkansas’s continued success in creating a 21st century workforce, by Dr. Glen Fenter, president, Mid-South Community College; the importance of shale exploration as national demand for natural gas rises by Lawrence Bengal, director of the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission; highlights by Grant Tennille, executive director, Arkansas Economic Development Commission, of Arkansas’s achievements in leveraging manufacturing to expand economic growth through the creation of high-tech and high-paying jobs with companies such as the French aviation company Dassault Falcon; and Rod Bigelow, executive director, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and how the Museum has fared in its mission of bringing great works of art to Bentonville and its impact on the local economy since opening in 2011.

The SLC/Mark Norris Campaign Against Hunger brought together SLC participants to assemble 50,000 meals, to be distributed to families in Arkansas through Outreach, Inc. and the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. Outreach, Inc., SLC’s project partner, was awarded the prestigious Daily Point of Light Award in 2013 by President Barack Obama and President George H. W. Bush, for their long-standing commitment to provide food, water, medical care and education to millions of children in the United States and in East Africa.

As vice chair of the SLC, Speaker Philip Gunn will assist the chair in executing the activities of the Conference, guide the Conference in policy deliberations, and serve as liaison to the House and Senate leaders of the member states.

7/29/14