With the new year upon us, legislators around the country will descend on state capitols to begin the work of government. For Darren Reaman, CEDIA Director of Public Policy, and myself, that means our jobs are about to go from busy to non-stop.
During last year’s legislative session, Darren tracked 384 industry-relevant legislative bills in 49 states and the District of Columbia (sorry, South Dakota). With 2014 being an election year, we expect some state legislative sessions to be shorter, as lawmakers will focus on their re-election efforts.
However, while the sessions might be shorter, we expect no less activity, as many representatives will want to pass laws to show their constituents that they are working on their behalf to “get things done.”
Darren and I track and monitor several issues of importance to CEDIA members, including statewide electrical licensing, security licensing (with home automation implications), low-voltage licensing, electronic waste (e-waste), and television energy efficiency standards.
While both of us are going to work hard to ensure that we know about bills relevant to you, I want to convey a message that can’t be overstated: the success of our government affairs efforts depends on you — our members.
Where You Come In
When we discover a bill that could affect our members in a particular state, we typically reach out to members there via a “Legislation Alert” email. Sometimes, we’ll also get in touch with members by phone. We encourage them to contact their legislators and make clear that this legislation is problematic for them and encourage the representatives to either vote against the bill or include amendment language that clarifies the intent of the legislation and protects our industry.
Given your busy schedules, we certainly understand that it’s not easy to make time for items like this. Or perhaps you feel that your voice won’t mean anything to the folks in your statehouse. Let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.
While Darren is registered currently in nine states and often travels to testify at committee hearings, his efforts have to be supplemented by you, the voters in the legislator’s district.
Why You Matter
I read recently that according to the Congressional Management Foundation, an undecided congressman is four times more likely to be influenced by a visit from a constituent than from a lobbyist. As a former state legislator once said, “It is important to know who your legislator is, but it is more important that your legislator knows who you are.”
This makes sense for lawmakers. While you may feel like just one person, your voice is a powerful one. First off, you are a voter. Second, you are a taxpayer. Third, in many cases, you are either a business owner or an employee. Politicians never want to be seen as an enemy of small business, and that gives your word tremendous weight.
If you’re far from a state capitol, an email (or even better, a phone call) to a legislator is tremendously helpful to our legislative efforts. If you’re close to a state capitol, however, a visit to their offices is the best possible scenario for us. It shows a level of commitment to an issue that your representatives simply cannot ignore.
One of my responsibilities for CEDIA is to build up our Grassroots Legislative Network. If a bill comes up in your state, you will be called upon to help out. In addition, I would like to use this network as an opportunity for you to come to us if you think there are issues in your state that Darren and I need to know about.
As I said earlier, Darren and I will be working constantly on your behalf this legislative season. But our efforts in CEDIA Government Affairs can’t be fully successful without help from you, our valued members.
Stay In The Loop Sign up for our Grassroots Legislative Network
to be first to know about activity in your area, or contact me at email@example.com
or 800.669.5329, ext. 124.
Nick McLain is CEDIA’s Public Affairs & Membership Communications Manager. Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.