Growing Your Public Policy Toolbox by Larry Dowell


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  • This is similar to a presentation given at the U.S. Chamber’s Government Affairs Conference last October in Chicago. You will see some information taken from a survey conducted with conference attendees. The chambers present all have government affairs programs and will give you a better idea of tools they use. Over 50 chambers filled out the survey from all over the country.
  • These are the top four answers. Discussion questions:Have any chambers endorsed a candidate (not PAC endorsement)?Have you had difficulty getting a candidate to agree to a debate because they didn’t like the chamber, or because you endorsed their opponent?What do you do to encourage members to run for office?
  • These six are done less frequently by chambers, particularly endorsing candidates. As you saw on the last slide, most chambers with government affairs programs have a PAC.
  • Notes:In 2010 and 2012, chambers in congressional districts have banded together and sent this survey to candidates running for Congress. They share results with members afterward. Chambers in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional district participated in the Latham-Boswell race last year.
  • These questions offer the candidate to write an in-depth answer, while others are multiple choice.
  • This mailing piece advertises a program where people interested in running for office can sign up to learn about the process.
  • Discussion questions:Other: Host four part series on government politics, advocacy; arrange member meetings with policy makers; legislative awards luncheonComments: Arrange meetings between business leaders and elected officials; monthly newsletter featuring updates on federal policy from each member of state delegation.What types of speakers have been most popular?
  • The U.S. Chamber shows percentages of how much Federal elected officials support their issues. It’s cut and dry. Others go more in depth and focus on times the elected officials supporter their issues.
  • The Salt Lake Chamber sends out a 28 page public policy guide to members that is vetted extensively with business leaders. It provides the foundation for advocacy each year and is published prior to Utah’s legislative session.
  • Discussion questions:How do you handle an official position when a member is against it?How do you poll? When you testify or meet with elected officials, how do you incorporate members?How do you get your members engaged?In the survey, a little under half the chambers organize both a fly-in to D.C. and a drive to their state’s capitol.
  • Does anyone use an online grassroots system here? If so, which one?Have you polled membership to know what they think?
  • In the survey, over 80% of the chambers use Facebook, with Twitter over 70%. Much less than half use YouTube and LinkedIn. If you have a public policy committee, what issues does it take up? What types of guests do you have at your meetings?
  • In coalition building, North Dakota led efforts to oppose Measure 2, an initiative to eliminate property taxes in 2012.
  • Other: Immigration; paid sick leave mandate by government; farm policy and water policy (rationing, not quality)Comments: Issue awareness through seminars- we do not take a position
  • Lack of resources and time was overwhelmingly number one, scoring over 80%. Other answers 25% or lower include divided membership, fear of losing members, fear of failure, board does not understand value, and committee or a board has a city or county officials serving.Discussion questions:Other: Lack of willingness to publicize or push back with our delegationDo you have a champion on the board for your advocacy work?Has the board or membership changed their view on amount of advocacy work they want to see?Has anyone found a way to generate more revenue or find more time for advocacy work?
  • Growing Your Public Policy Toolbox by Larry Dowell

    1. 1. Facilitated by Larry Dowell, Dowell ManagementGrowing Your PublicPolicy Toolbox
    2. 2. Background• Survey conducted for U.S. Chamber GovernmentAffairs Conference last October• Over 50 responses nation wide• All chambers with government affairs programs• Our professional observations & examples
    3. 3. 1. Check all of the following your chamber doesinvolving candidates or other campaigns•0102030405060708090100Ballot proposal positionsCandidate debatesCandidate questionnaires PACs
    4. 4. 1. Check all of the following your chamberdoes involving candidates or othercampaigns051015202530354045Candidateendorsement(PAC)CandidaterecruitmentCandidateschoolIndependentexpenditureCampaignfundraisingCandidateendorsed bychamber
    5. 5. Candidate Questionnaire• Example: WI- 7, MN-1, IA-3IA-3 Chamber Candidate Questionnaire
    6. 6. Candidate QuestionnaireSample Questions• Please describe your views of the Free Enterprisesystem and your thoughts on if it is threatenedtoday or in the future.• Do you think the growth of government at alllevels, and the deficits that follow, negativelyimpact job creation?• Would you deal with the debt and deficit issuesthrough increasing governmentrevenue, decreasing government spending, orboth?
    7. 7. Candidate School Example:Charleston (SC) Chamber of Commerce
    8. 8. 2. Check all of the following your chamberdoes to educate members on policy andpolitics.•020406080100120Inform viaelectronic formatPublic policyspeakersMonitor/publishvoting recordsRelease annualvoters guideOther
    9. 9. Lubbock City Council Vote Record Detailed TabulationChamber Mayor DeLeon Price Klein Beane Leonard GilbreathSelection of DowntownMaster Developer Support Support Support Support Support Support Support SupportLP&L OrdinanceAmendment Support Support Support Support Support Support Support SupportZoning Code Amendmentfor Off-premises AlcoholicBeverage Sales Support Support Support Support Support Support Support SupportContractural Agreementwith Downtown MasterDeveloper Support Support Support Support Oppose Oppose Support SupportVoting with the Chamberposition 4 4 4 3 3 4 4Voting against the Chamberposition 0 0 0 1 1 0 0Not VotingVoting Records Example:Lubbock Chamber of Commerce
    10. 10. SOUTHDAKOTA StateDistrict 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 % Lifetime %Johnson TimP.D SD 1 + - - - - - + + 38 50Thune John R SD 2 + + ? ? + + + + 100 90NEBRASKA StateDistrict 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 % Lifetime %Nelson E.BenjaminD NE 1 + - + - - + + + 63 77Johanns Mike R NE 2 + + + + + + + + 100 96U.S. Chamber Voting Tracker
    11. 11. Public Policy Guide Example: Salt Lake Chamber
    12. 12. 3. Check all of the following your chamber utilizeson key issuesTake officialpositions on publicpolicy issues9393.59494.59595.59696.5Meet with stateofficials and testifywhen neededAsk members to speakwith their electedofficials
    13. 13. 3. Check all of the following your chamberutilizes on key issues• 82.6%- Meet with local officials and testify whenneeded• 76.9%- Meet and testify with federal officials• 75%- Policy research and development
    14. 14. 3. Check all of the following your chamberutilizes on key issues• 69.2%- Use an online grassroots system• 65.3%- Use polling as a tool for advocacy• 44.2%- Organize using a grass tops approach• 28.8%- Litigation or legal advocacy
    15. 15. 4. Check all the following your chamberdoes to advance your advocacy and policyagendaTop answers:• Public policy committee• Use social media• Coalition and networkbuilding• Staff devoted to public policy
    16. 16. • 70%- Appointment recommendations• 68%- Earned media• 45%- Media partnerships• 32%- Paid media• 18%- Demonstration projects and pilots
    17. 17. Ballot Initiative Example: North Dakota Chamber
    18. 18. 5. Check all of the following issues that yourchamber has advocated on in the past year•Top Three:• Taxes• Education/Workforce Prep• Transportation/• transit funding
    19. 19. 5. Check all of the following issues that yourchamber has advocated on in the past year• 82%- Budget• 82%- Regulatory reform• 76%- Local project funding• 70%- Energy/environmental• 64%- Health Care• 50%- Trade expansion
    20. 20. 6. What currently prevents your chamberfrom growing your advocacy programs?#1 answer:Lack of resources and time
    21. 21. DiscussionHow does your chamberadvocate and ensure a strongbusiness voice is heard?
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