In addition to budgeting and corporate strategy, the fall is a critical time for businesses to prepare for the upcoming legislative session, which, in Maryland, begins in January and runs through April. Advocating for, and against, legislation – and, at minimum, being aware of pending legislative proposals – is not limited to large companies or specific industries. State policy can critically impact businesses of all sizes, non-profits and even entire industries.
As a complement to our article highlighting the key steps to pass legislation, below, we share important steps to take when amending or defeating legislation that may adversely affect your interests, which at times can be more challenging than passing a bill into law.
- Understand the political landscape
Would you know with whom in the General Assembly to discuss your issue? There are 141 members in the House and 47 members in the Senate. Identifying those who are sponsoring legislation, and those who may be against it, and thereby able to serve as your allies, is only the first step in your strategy to amend or defeat legislation. On most issues, an experienced lobbyist can form a diverse, bi-partisan coalition of legislators to systematically fight against the passing of such a bill. Understanding each legislator’s personal background, political philosophy and constituents is key to a successful effort to stop bad legislation from becoming law.
The political balance among the lobbyists at Old Line Government Affairs is unparalleled. Our diverse political relationships provide access to all levels and parties of state government allowing frank discussion and problem solving on a conversant level regardless of affiliation. Old Line Government Affairs’ lobbyists enjoy strong relationships among legislative activists. Our experience in broadening support from like-minded entities for our clients can add a new dimension to the client’s base of support.
- Knowledge of the issue
Do you have sufficient knowledge of the issue to discuss it with the appropriate legislators? When meeting with legislators, you must have an arsenal of data, testimonials, and examples of the impact the legislation has on your business or industry. Will there be a cost to the state? Will it affect jobs? Other businesses like yours? How will it impact existing laws?
- Timing is Everything
The legislative session lasts 90 days. Are you able to commit three months to lobby against the issue? Bills – especially those that are contested – can take the entire session before a final vote to allow for lawmakers to hear testimony, consider implications, and make amendments. On the other hand, legislative policy can come together literally at the last minute and be rushed through the General Assembly, without any hearings whatsoever.
Motions, amendments and delay tactics are tools to help defeat or prevent a bill from coming to a vote before the end of session. During the legislative session our lobbyists are present in Annapolis 24/7 monitoring and tracking client issues until the final bell on Sine Die. Our long, established relationships with lawmakers engender conversations in the committees as well as the back rooms for candid exchanges thus avoiding last minute surprises.
Experience runs deep among the team at Old Line Government Affairs. Successful strategy and tactics are learned only through experience. Sun Tzu in the Art of War wrote, “In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack–the direct and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of maneuvers.”
A lobbyist can help your business or organization address legislative policy change and manage government affairs. Our team at Old Line Government Affairs has more than 75 years combined experience in state and local government affairs with balanced political affiliations. Click here to learn more about our team.
To learn more about the legislative process and how Old Line Government Affairs can help your business or organization develop strategies to successfully implement new policy, contact us or visit our web site.