Are you fulfilling your legislative responsibility?

As business people we are constantly pressed to decide what our priorities are on a daily basis. Orders, planning, product or service levels, bank and customer relationships and employee issues dominate our calendars to the extreme and then we are called to be involved in our industry legislative agenda. Don’t we hire people to do that for us or pay annual fees to organizations to represent us?

It is so easy to make the excuse that we are too busy for “non-company” business but as we do that we are removed from connecting with our elected process and we abdicate authority to an amazingly important process that can have long range impact on our businesses, employees and families. Elected legislative representatives and their staff are not elected due to their knowledge of your industry and the issues that are at work that can make it viable of non-competitive. They are constantly barraged by people who do not have the busy calendar that you do lobbying for entitlements and legislation that either directly or as the result of unintended consequences can affect your business significantly and more often than not adversely.

My industry would annually bus a group of owners and senior company executives to the state capital to speak with legislators about industry issues. We traveled on one bus and when we arrived I counted at least 11 other buses. I asked the government guide taking care of our party what other businesses were also here and she quickly said that they represented the other side lobbying for assistance and more government regulation while we were focusing on “reasonable” regulation and no handouts.

The elected officials that we met with were honest with us but while they appreciated our presence and the opportunity to speak with us directly. They admitted to us that visiting only one day a year was woefully inadequate to represent our industry and the issues that were important to us. We needed to be in the state capital and available to testify or have some of our chief technologists do the same, meet with them in the district that elected them, invite them to our businesses no matter how small so that they can become familiar with who we are and what we represent.

While industry staffers can prepare the agenda and materials it was obvious that unless we took the time to invest on a regular basis our concerns would not be validated by our presence and personal investment. Can we expect our legislators to make the right decision when there is so much counter testimony on important issues when we say we are “too busy” to be there, then was that issue that important? We need to seek to represent our companies in our state capital (and if possible National Capital as well) as we would if we they were a customer and value that relationship as we do other strategic assets – people, intellectual property, market position – in the company.

We need to fulfill our legislative responsibility!

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