Friday, October 18, 2013

Boots on the ground

Do you know who your lawmakers are? And, just as importantly, do they know who you are?

One of the greatest assets of this Association is the line of communication that members establish with their elected officials and congressional staffers. But what does it take to establish those relationships?

OOIDA's Washington, D.C., staff hosted a seminar on Friday of truck show weekend to provide tips to members on how to break the ice with their lawmakers and build an ongoing dialogue.

"We are the boots on the ground, the bridge between members and lawmakers," OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Ryan Bowley told an assembled group during Friday events. "But you are the experts."

Getting to know the staffers in congressional offices is important. Often, they are the ones who deal with issues directly and who can track the comments and feedback on important issues.

Staying on topic is important and effective, says Bowley, whether it's about a Call to Action or educating a lawmaker or staffer on an issue.

"Make sure you have an agenda for your call," Bowley told the group. "Focus on one specific thing, whether it's HOS, or CSA. If you establish a relationship, you have a chance to bring up other issues at a later time."
Ryan Bowley and Ben Siegrist from
OOIDA's Washington, D.C. office

OOIDA Legislative Affairs Director Ben Siegrist says a call-in or email campaign can have a direct effect on an issue if the staffers or members of Congress know who is doing the talking.

"Your message carries a whole lot more weight when they are familiar with you and familiar with the issue," he said.

A second part of the seminar dealt with navigating the complex  – and, for many, intimidating – regulatory process. Bowley and Siegrist discussed the importance of filing comments on proposed regulatory changes and rulemakings.

"This is where details are filled in and the rubber meets the road," Bowley said. Again, staying on topic and responding to specific points in a proposal has the most effect.

During a question-and-answer period, OOIDA Member Mark Elrod said a visit to D.C. helped him realize that there's no quick fix on any issue. He added, however, that everyone he met seemed genuinely interested in his perspective.

"It was a real eye-opener for me," Elrod said. "They do like hearing from common people in Washington, and common people can make a difference."

No comments:

Post a Comment