W hen asked about the legislative process this last year, state representative Joe Atkins reflected and said, "We probably see somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000+ drafts for bills each legislative session, and only about 100 make it to the floor for a vote.”
When asked further about the process a legislator goes through in prioritizing each bill, Mr. Atkins went on to say that a legislator cannot possibly know, nor take the time to know, the information needed in order to make a decision on every issue that comes his or her way. That is why the legislature holds committee hearings, because "that is the key process where we hope to get the critical information and feedback needed, in order to make the best decisions for those we represent.”
But unless you have the time to stay staked out at our state capitol during session, how can you hope to monitor each and every proposed bill that may affect you?
If this last biennium session taught us anything, it was to show us how quickly an idea can catch momentum that could drastically impact us as an industry. We were fortunate enough this last time to catch an issue that had not been thought through very well, and because of our presence at the last minute, we were able to convince some thoughtful legislators that this "flag pole” bill (as it came to be known) was not ready to be looked at more seriously; therefore, we saw the bill not voted on, but buried in committee.
We must remember that the legislative process isn’t one where we can say, "that bill didn’t pass, we don’t have to worry about that one ever coming back again!” The legislative process continues on, and the bill that didn’t pass last year may be brought up again, this time written a little differently, and perhaps with it, a few more allies who are sympathetic to its cause.
Because of this, we can see one of the most important reasons for our organization to exist.
That is why this last year, we saw the need to hire a lobbyist for help in monitoring, and to be effective when getting our message out, on major legislation that could impact us in a very real way. If we do not take ownership of what is our right and duty as citizens to be a part of the legislative process, we will have no one to blame but ourselves when something onerous now affects our lives.
The good news is that because of the size and strength of an organization such as ours, the effort needed to stay vigilant and in the "know” does not have to be a big burden on a few, but instead, can be a task easily maintained by the many.
Similar to last year, we would like to ask every homeowner association and business partner in CAI to consider making it a regu- lar part of their annual budgeting process to set aside $50 to be designated for the pur- pose of maintaining the cost of a lobbyist to look after our interests at the state capitol, and to help us organize when our perspective is needed on those major legislative issues, such as the "flag pole” bill.
$50 is not a huge amount in contrast to the annual budgets of even a small association or business, let alone a larger one, but your commitment could have a very real and major impact on our industry and lives.
Please make those checks payable to: CAI-MN 1000 Westgate Drive, Suite 252 St. Paul, MN 55114