• A Potentially Pivotal 2009

    Dec. 1, 2008
    The new Congress takes office Jan. 3 and begins its legislative work a couple of weeks later. This will be the 111th Congress and will feature some new

    The new Congress takes office Jan. 3 and begins its legislative work a couple of weeks later. This will be the 111th Congress and will feature some new committee leadership and several new faces. More importantly, this Congress figures to oversee a potentially pivotal legislative year. 2009 could be the year of a carbon-based economy, significant labor/HR issues, decisive action on long-term tax policy and new levels of regulation. For HARDI and its members, 2009 may dictate the tone and tenor of business for the next two to four years.

    Many members will have a new representative in the House or Senate or a representative who now sits on, influences or leads a key House or Senate committee. Here are a few simple things that each member should do in early January to get 2009 moving in the right direction:

    1. Use the HARDI Government Relations Action Center online to perform a ZIP code search (9-digit) to confirm who your 2009 representatives are.

    2. Take three minutes to use the online tool to compose a simple letter introducing you and your business, and welcoming them to the 111th Session. This is a fantastic time to invite newly elected representatives (or reinvite incumbents) to visit your business.

    3. Set a reminder in Outlook or your calendar to follow up with your representatives in one week.

    4. In your follow-up letter (sent the same way you sent the first), state that you are following up on your letter of last week. This is the time to outline the issues and concerns most important to you and your business. Invite your representatives to use you and your business as a resource to learn more about why these issues are important. Contact HARDI if you'd like the latest on various issues.

    5. Set another reminder in your calendar to follow up again in one month.

    6. For your third contact (if they don't contact you first), set aside 30 minutes of your day to call each of your House and Senate Washington offices. Pick the most important issue from your last letter and tell the receptionist that you would like to speak to your representative about that issue. They will direct you to the appropriate staffer. Introduce yourself and your business to the staffer and then explain how and why your issue is so important to your business and your employees. The staffer will explain that their boss is either aligned with you, opposed or undecided on this issue. If the representative is aligned, urge him or her to take action. If opposed or undecided, urge the representative to visit you and your business so you can show them why this issue is important and how many people (employees) it will affect.

    Following these steps will position you and your business to be a resource to your representative(s). Fighting for small businesses is a banner every representative wants. Making your issues tangible to your representatives may just create some unexpected allies for you and HVACR distribution on the Hill.

    Talbot Gee is vice president of HARDI. Contact him at 614/345-4328 or [email protected].