By Wayne Scaggs
What you may not understand is that business is politics. If you are in business, you are involved in politics. The business of politics is money. The amount of money you keep is determined by politics, and you have power to alter the impact of some of the legislation. Legislation is the function of making rules by which we live, and we the people, through our legislators, shape and vote on that legislation. Become involved and make your voice heard; this is how change comes about. In many cases, someone wanted or did not want something to happen. They felt strongly enough to do something about it. They built support for their position, and they contacted their legislator.
Excerpts from Participating in the Legislative Process, a citizen’s guide I received from my state assemblyman, indicate that the legislative process is most effective when you, the voter, make your personal views known to the elected officials. The first step is getting to know your legislator or the legislator whose bill affects you. They are people with a job to do, just like you.
Next, build a constituency of voters who share the same position and then express your collective concerns. If you have enough clout, hire a lobbyist who will follow and influence the legislation. Meeting and talking with the legislator or the committee members can be helpful. Educate the legislator or the committee members on the impact of the bill to your business and employees. Offer an alternative or compelling reason for your position, and thank the legislator or the committee members for their time.
Often you will get to meet with staffers; these are the people that work behind the scenes and directly influence the legislator or committee members. Staffers work for and on behalf of the legislator; they open the mail, set the appointments, etc. Staffers are the people to get to know; they can be very helpful. If you get the staffers to understand your position, it will be easier when you meet with the legislator.
Our industry has a legislative bombshell just over the political horizon. This legislation has the power to reach deep into our pockets and take more of the money we work so hard to earn. The legislative process is slow, but we need to make our concerns known now regarding The Federal Universal Service Fund while we have the opportunity. Get involved; it is your money at stake!
[For an explanation of the Universal Service Fund, see the article, Universal Service Fund Update.]
Wayne Scaggs is president of Alston Tascom Inc. He is also the immediate past president of the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce and current chair of the Inland Valley Chamber Legislative Alliance (IVCLA), a group of seven chambers with 4,500 businesses, which is currently working with legislators regarding healthcare. He can be reached at 909-548-7300.
[From Connection Magazine – March 2008]