When you have a good bill, your lobbyist becomes a de facto employee of the bill sponsor. Legislators have a ton of work to do between their committee work and their other bills. It is hard for the bill sponsor to do what needs to be done to keep the bill alive. LFN is able to work the bill, gain co-sponsors, talk to committee staff, leadership, etc. To be honest legislators do as little as possible for their bills, the session is 60 days and they have ton of other stuff to do, You and LFN do more work promoting the bill than the bill sponsor does. Also, LFN is the daily cheerleader for the bill sponsor to keep fighting for our bill, providing talking points, alerting the sponsor to problems that pop up at a moment’s notice, as they say, putting out fires.
Knowing the political landscape is crucial. Lobbyists provide important services such as legislative knowledge, contacts, the skills of negotiations and consensus-building, knowing which elected or appointed official to contact for specific issues. Knowing who to communicate with gets results. Knowing people and personalities, party leaders, committee chairpersons and their staff is half the battle. Grassroots folks just don’t have the time or knowledge to do the behind the scenes work that has to be done and without knowing the process, citizens will waste their time going in the wrong direction. Sometimes when a bill is not moving, LFN knows all the possible impediments, such as other lobbying organizations opposing our bill, objections by committee staff, leadership, etc. Gathering information on who to talk to, where to find them, when to meet them, and what to say, is time and labor intensive and often not cost effective for many groups or individuals. Lobbyists maintain the contacts and have the knowledge and experience to bring your issue to key decision-makers, parliamentary committees, and state agencies. Lobbying isn’t just about contacting elected or non-elected officials.
It is about contacting the right people. Also, knowing the right time to call about a bill is crucial. If people call about a bill when it is not up for a vote is a waste of your valuable time.
Staying on top of Amendments: amendments can destroy a good bill, and amendments are filed sometimes within hours of the committee hearing. LFN will stay on top of amendments and because we are in the capital, LFN can many times do the quick work to stop the amendment.
Legislators are barraged daily by lobbyists, and the face to face encounter is the most effective way to get your point across. Also, LFN is able to follow opposing lobbyists right after they talk to a legislator and diffuse the objections to our bill quickly.
You may be hundreds of miles from Tallahassee. Gas at even $3/gallon means you’ll likely spend hundreds of dollars on fuel alone. Then there is lodging and food. Are you comfortable talking to groups of people such as legislative committees?
When most people think of a lobbyist, they think of people in the private sector with expensive haircuts and clothing, hired guns for that issue. While that is certainly often the case, did you know many governmental agencies pay lobbyists, either by placing them on their staff or by hiring them outright? Our Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles paid one person $82,000 a year to lobby. According to Sunshine Review, Florida school districts spent over $1.2 million lobbying in 2009. Do you think they are spending more now or less? According to this May 2012 news story in Tampa, local government agencies around the state hire lobbyists to represent them in Tallahassee, who then report their compensation to the state as a range.dollars just to make the trip and spend the night at a hotel.Once you are there, do you know the staffers of your legislator? How about the staffers for the committee chair that will hear the bill? They are the gate keepers to valuable time with the legislator. More importantly, does your legislator know you? Did you know that in most cases, sending an email to a legislator at best gets you an automated response?Just as with a lawyer, there is a need for a qualified lobbyist. If you try to defend yourself on a criminal charge or hire a real estate attorney to do so, odds are you’ll be going to prison. Lobbyists are the same. If you try to do the work yourself or hire a firm that does not have your best interest in mind, your issue will not have the chance it needs.Who is against you? You may be surprised!
What is your liberty or bill worth?
What if you had an advocate already there? What if that advocate really believed in your issue (some call this principle)? What if that advocate had a strong record of pro-liberty lobbying and legislative work? What if that advocate had spent years at the Legislature and cultivated a working relationship with legislators- but never at the expense of their principles? Remember, we’re Americans and as such will never agree on everything- except hopefully the freedom to disagree.