Dipping HARDI's Toe in GR Waters

Government Relations, or “GR” as many refer to it inside the D.C. beltway, speaks its own language, has its own rules and runs on its own schedule. As discussed in Don Frendberg's column in this issue (page 59), HARDI is getting more involved in “GR,” as issues like LIFO repeal and the more-recent and ill-named Employee Free Choice Act increasingly threaten the interest of HVACR distributors. Since there are no plans to become a lobbying force in the capitol or to establish a HARDI Political Action Committee (used to donate to political campaigns), HARDI limits its impact on the political scene to better educational and grass roots and grass tops efforts.

Everyone knows what grass roots efforts are, but grass tops is how HARDI members, as business leaders, become truly significant on the political scene. As employers of many people, often in several different states and Congressional districts, your voice carries much weight with elected officials who have little justification for supporting legislation that would hinder your ability to create and sustain more jobs. The challenge is that this puts a lot of pressure on business owners, managers and leaders to stay informed and be ready to act, often at a moment's notice. You also need to know the nine-digit ZIP codes of any main or branch locations so that you target your messages correctly. To act, HARDI will always try to direct you to online tools to make communicating with your elected officials quick and simple. Given the security procedures since 9/11, electronic and phone communications with elected representatives are the only ways to go nowadays.

HARDI's “GR” activities will always be issue-based and nonpartisan, but you will need to know who is supporting and opposing various legislation. Reporting from meetings in the capitol, however, will rarely be nonpartisan, as elected officials usually can't help themselves, but it is important for you to know political motivations that may be behind proposed legislation. As the title states, HARDI is testing the “GR” waters, which means the association and members alike have much to learn about how to maximize efforts in our interests. When called to act, do so if it supports your interests. When we send information, please read it and decide for yourself. Doing nothing surrenders your right to complain later.

Talbot Gee,
HARDI vice president

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