It’s Who You Know…And Who Knows You

Darren Reaman
Feb 19, 2013

When it comes to public policy, they say it’s important to know who your legislator is – but even more important that they know who you are.

Case in point: Right now, we’re in the heart of the state legislative sessions. As state legislators review bills coming across their desks, they try to think of how the proposed legislation would affect their constituents.

If your legislator is aware of your business and has an understanding of the work you do, when something like statewide electrical licensing or e-waste legislation arises – two of the most common types of legislative issues CEDIA works on at the state level – your business provides a concrete, personal example of how the legislation would affect economic activity in their legislative district.
That personal relationship can make your state legislator that much more likely to be persuaded when you contact them to voice your reaction to the bill. They may even be compelled to pick up the phone and ask for your feedback on the proposed legislation.

Of course, CEDIA is tracking and lobbying on legislation too, but the grassroots relationships are essential to our public policy initiatives. When we communicate with a bill sponsor or committee member, it helps to be able to highlight affected businesses in their district.

For example, we recently identified a problematic statewide electrical licensing bill in Indiana. CEDIA staff contacted a state legislator to provide comments on the bill. Because that legislator was familiar with four CEDIA member businesses near his district that would be affected by the legislation, it became much easier to illustrate the potential impact of the bill.

So how can you get to know your legislator and get them to know you? Start by getting on their mailing list. Many legislators are also connected to social media, where you can follow and respond to their updates. Find out where they’re hosting events, such as town hall meetings or community coffee meetups. Respond to their calls for feedback. Introduce yourself as a small business owner and maintain that relationship. And remember – the best time to build this relationship is before you need it!

Another key to combating harmful legislation is your CEDIA membership. Your membership dollars help provide the resources we need to track, monitor, and actively lobby on potentially harmful legislation on a daily basis. Your membership also provides strength in numbers by allowing us to state how many small businesses we represent in a given area that could be affected by proposed legislation. The sooner you renew your membership – or join, if you’re not yet a member – the stronger our voice is when legislation arises in your state that would have an impact on your business.

Do you know the names of your state legislator(s) and how to contact them? If not, I would be happy to help you identify your lawmakers and offer additional tips on becoming involved in grassroots legislative response. Contact me at 317.328.4336 ext. 144 or dreaman@cedia.org.

About Darren Reaman
Darren Reaman is CEDIA's Director of Public Policy. He can be reached at dreaman@cedia.org.



CEDIA blog posts are intended to provide general information and should not be regarded as legal opinions or advice.

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