Lobbying 101-The Best Time to Lobby

The Best Time to Lobby

Several weeks before a bill is considered at any level, Elected’s  and their staffs’ meet to plan strategies and take positions on a bill. If your lobbying effort is too late, a decision may have already been made. If you lobby too early, the impact of the lobbying effort may have been lost in the intervening time.

The best time to lobby is when a representative or senator is considering writing or sponsoring a bill that will benefit or harm your cause. If you make your position known at this stage, you have a greater opportunity to influence the legislation or even kill the Bill.

For example, Preservationists can participate in many different ways as a bill progresses through its many stages toward enactment. You should inform your representative or senators of your position on a bill soon after it is introduced and suggest any changes you would like to see made. If its positive for you, encourage them to show their support by becoming a cosponsor of the bill, or, if a negative, ask them to oppose the legislation.

Two or three weeks before a proposal is at a decision point in the legislative process, reinforce your position with a letter, phone call, e-mail, or personal visit..

Follow the bill’s process closely. You will need to reinforce your position with your member and other members as the bill reaches each step of the legislative process.

Lobbying during election time: Election time and during campaigns offer a perfect opportunity for grassroots lobbyists.  Candidates of both parties will spend time in their districts, giving you the chance to attend candidate forums, debates, or other gatherings to ask for their views on preservation to keep to our example. These public forums will expose preservation issues and the candidate’s stand on them to a broader audience. This is also the time to submit questions on preservation to candidates during meetings, public forums, or when they are canvassing a neighborhood. Try to elicit specific commitments of support. These become powerful lobbying tools later.

Candidates at all levels of government respond to voting power. Your vote can be a positive force. After the election, congratulate the winning candidate and offer your assistance on legislation affecting historic preservation.

Remember, a bill must be passed by both the lower and upper houses.  If your representative is not sympathetic to an issue, lobby your senator and vice versa.

Martin Milita is a senior director  with Duane Morris Government Strategies, a consultancy and lobbying firm that represents clients seeking the support of state- and federal-level government agencies. Commanding a career that spans more than three decades, Martin Milita possesses extensive experience serving private and public sector clients in legislative affairs and activities. Martin Milita holds a Bachelor’s degree in Government and Politics from King’s College and a Juris Doctor from the James E. Beasley School of Law at Temple University.

SmartThings adds Windows Phone support for its smart home hub

Gigaom

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SmartThings, the smart home software and hub maker has launched a Windows phone app to control its services. This joins the existing iOS and Android apps and should help reassure those worried that Samsung’s purchase of SmartThings this summer would mean the end of support for different platforms or efforts to close off the SmartThings ecosystem. The SmartThings app for Windows will be available as a free download in the Windows app store, and should be available in the coming days. For more on SmartThings’ plans, CEO Alex Hawkinson gave some interesting hints in our Structure Connect conversation Wednesday.

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Lobbying 101.5: “Who & Where to Lobby”

Who & Where to Lobby

As a continuation of Lobbying 101 we now explore “who & where to lobby”. There is no restriction on how many members of Congress or your state legislature or a city council you may lobby. You will find, however, that your own state congressional delegation or your state senator or representative—those who are there to represent your interests—will be the most responsive.

Take Congress as the example: support or opposition can have the greatest influence at the committee level. Members of Congress who are not members of the committee handling your legislation have far less influence on how it is shaped. If your congressional member sits on a committee that is considering your issue, your lobbying will be crucial.

If your state is not represented on the committee, ask your congressman to speak with the chairman or members of the committee and endorse your position.

Remember, a bill must be passed by both the House and the Senate. If your representative is not sympathetic to an issue, lobby your senator and vice versa

Where to Lobby

Washington, D.C., Office: Your first communication to the office of a member of Congress is likely to be directed to the legislative assistant who handles your issue. The receptionist may not immediately know who that is, unless your member has consistently been involved with your immediately relevant issue.

  • Legislative assistants are generally scrambling to assemble briefings on short deadlines and not inclined to engage in extensive discussions or policy debates with constituents.
  • They want concise, well-organized presentations, including material on how this issue plays out in their member’s district.
  • They do not want long position papers that will take huge amounts of time to read and then summarize.
  • They are busy and focused on short-term demands, so if your issue is way off in the future, they will be less interested in speaking with you.
  • Keep your communications short and to the point, letting them extend the discussion if they become interested.
  • District Office: Senators may have six or so offices around their state. A congressman in a small district would only have one, in a larger district, two or three.

Staff members who work in the district office are not directly involved in the legislative process, however, they are a valuable lobbying resource. The district office is readily accessible and the staff is familiar with local issues. Usually the district director or another senior advisor is the member’s eyes and ears in the district and provides important feedback on the priority of local issues. The member’s schedule in his home district is usually arranged by these offices as well. Use District folks often.

Author Martin Milita, a Senior Director at Duane Morris Government Strategies, is a member of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Bars and has lobbied state and federally and in Canada.

Duane Morris Government Strategies is a bipartisan government relations firm. Duane Morris Government Strategies represent clients before the federal government and in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Ohio. Duane Morris Government Strategies professionals offer a full complement of government-affairs services, including legislative and executive branch advocacy, policy analysis, assistance with government procurement and funding programs, and crisis management.

Duane Morris Government Strategies professionals have held high-level political positions in both Republican and Democratic administrations, and have run and played active roles in federal, state, and local political campaigns. They have also worked for members of Congress, congressional and state committees, and presidential and gubernatorial transition teams. Also at Duane Morris Government Strategies disposal are hundreds of seasoned attorneys from the Duane Morris law firm who have handled complex legal issues in the public and private sectors across a multitude of industries.

 

Lobbying 101.4: Why Lobby

Why Lobby?

All elected officials, from the president of the United States to city council members, hold their positions because they won a majority of the votes cast in an election. Your role in the political process does not end at the voting booth. Once you have put these officials in a position of power, it is important to ensure that they are informed and can make decisions that will benefit your town, city, and the Nation writ large. Chances are you have expertise that may be a valuable resource for your elected officials.

Congress passes hundreds of bills during each legislative session. To do this, the members must depend on their small staffs, both in the district and in Washington, to research issues, recommend positions, and draft legislation. Your expertise—offered through lobbying—is critical to the legislative process.

Federal legislation, such as the yearly appropriation of funds and changes in tax policy, can directly affect matters important to you and your community.

When you lobby with facts, figures, and strong arguments, your representative and senators will be able to assess the legislation and make an informed decision about how to vote. Always remember, those on the other side of the issue are lobbying too!

Every voter should lobby because it produces more responsive legislators and a more responsive government.

Author Martin Milita, is a Senior Director at Duane Morris Government Strategies, where he offers clients a singular blend of business savvy, political acumen, and policy know how.

Duane Morris Government Strategies is a bipartisan government relations firm. Duane Morris Government Strategies represent clients before the federal government and in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Ohio.  Duane Morris Government Strategies professionals offer a full complement of government-affairs services, including legislative and executive branch advocacy, policy analysis, assistance with government procurement and funding programs, and crisis management.

Duane Morris Government Strategies professionals have held high-level political positions in both Republican and Democratic administrations, and have run and played active roles in federal, state and local political campaigns. They have also worked for members of Congress, congressional and state committees, and presidential and gubernatorial transition teams. Also at Duane Morris Government Strategies disposal are hundreds of seasoned attorneys from the Duane Morris law firm who have handled complex legal issues in the public and private sectors across a multitude of industries

What is it like to be an American?

Answer by Martin Milita:

I think that David S. Rose, A Citizen- had a pretty good answer. Let me respectfully add that I think Americans at the founding and continuing to today possess incalculable advantages over many if not all other Nations: timing in the sense that the nation's birth came, in Washington's words, at "an Epoch when the rights of mankind were better understood and more clearly defined, than at any former period," and space in the sense that geography gave and gives today America incredible resources. So yes, as Americans we have lots of stuff comparatively speaking.
Yet there are still several rather uniguely American inventions that persist -and have spread most places around the globe -that make most folks think about being American as unique- not better or worse:

• The legacy of waging the first successful war for colonial independence in the modern era.

• The establishment of the first nation-sized republic. (proving for the first time that a large and far-flung population could be governed in a republic.).

•Creation of the first wholly secular state.

•Creation of multiple and overlapping sources of authority in which the blurring of jurisdiction between fed'l and state power became an asset rather than a liability.

• The idea that vigorous- some may say at time too aggressive- on-going  debate about public policy as a hallmark of a truly modern state.

What is it like to be an American?

If you had to predict the next major war what countries do you think would be the ones to primarily start it?

Answer by Martin Milita:

India has one of the most powerful and largest militaries on the planet. Today, Pakistan has a strict first-use policy regarding nuclear war with India. The Pakistani government's official policy is that they can pre-emptively start a nuclear war because both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir as theirs. Their next war – their 4th war – could be nuclear.  Many Pakistanis’ claim allegiance to one of at least eight radical Islamic groups – including Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. And they've all formed one united front – a United Jihad Council. If one nuclear warhead was fired by either India or Pakistan in an act of war, it wouldn't create a regional conflict like we've seen in Syria or Libya. Those are terrible situations, but they would pale in comparison to this. This could create World War III. These two nuclear powers would drag every major nation into this. And sides would be taken. The loss of human life would be almost impossible to imagine.

If you had to predict the next major war what countries do you think would be the ones to primarily start it?

Dedicated Ebola Hospitals by State Sought After Nurse Infection

Today, New York Gov. Cuomo announced 8 hospitals designated to treat Ebola in that state.  This follows along a plan by the CDC to have “Ebola Designated Hospitals” in every state. U.S. and local health officials want to set up dedicated hospitals in each state for Ebola patients, part of a new emphasis on safety for health-care workers after a nurse caring for an infected patient in Dallas tested positive for the virus.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett held a press conference this morning – but there are not designated centers but rather a push for all hospitals to be aware and get procedures in place.

In New Jersey the state’s largest health-care union wants any confirmed Ebola patient treated at a single designated hospital, to both minimize exposure of workers and provide care by expert teams. Such a centralized approach would go against current state policy, which has emphasized the need for each of the state’s 72 acute-care hospitals to be ready to treat the deadly virus. That union, the Health Professionals and Allied Employees/AFT-AFLCIO, would also like to see the state order every hospital to drill for encountering the unprecedented illness.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is naming Ron Klain, a former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and an adviser at the Obama White House, as the point man on the U.S. government’s response to the Ebola crisis.

President Obama has been under pressure to name an Ebola “czar” to oversee health security in the U.S. and actions to help stem the outbreak in West Africa, where nearly 4,500 people have died from the virus.

Lobbying 101 Continued: Strong Voices

We have already seen that for many folks, lobbying conjures up dark  images of back rooms, back slaps and spoils. But we have also seen that those images are far from the truth. Casting your ballot in the voting booth may be the most fundamental of democratic acts, but talking to your elected and appointed officials—lobbying–is the indispensable step.

We used an example of historic preservationists- but every other group of citizens- preservationists or not-, have the prerogative and the responsibility to let elected and appointed officials, federal, state and local know their actions have consequences, positive and negative.

Lobbying  (or Lobbying 101) is designed to acquaint you with the lobbying techniques, and resources available to aid in advocacy.  Its information and recommendations can be applied to federal, state and local advocacy for executive, legislative, grassroots, procurement and finance.

Remember:

Lobbying is nothing more than simply being a strong voice for things that are important to you in your community.

The most fundamental part of lobbying is establishing positive long-term, working relationships with your elected and appointed representatives, laying the groundwork for taking specific action when the need or the opportunity arises.

Martin Milita, is licensed to practice law in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He has successfully lobbied for statutes, agency rules, and agency permits in the United States, both state and federal governments, in Canada and within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Europe and North America.