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Government Affairs Training


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John Kirchner of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shares his tips on what defines government affairs, how it affects you, and why you should be involved.

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Government Affairs Training

  1. 1. Government Affairs Chamber Training Mid-America Chamber Executives
  2. 2. Midwest Regional Office One of 7 regional offices - Office of Congressional and Public Affairs Represents: MN, WI, IA, NE, ND, SD Team: John Kirchner, Executive Director Ethan Hellier, Manager
  3. 3. Why be involved in Government Affairs? Public policy affects your members Elected officials need to hear from you as the “voice of business” Your members can’t accomplish alone what they can together If you don’t, someone else will; and the #1 reason
  4. 4. Why be involved in Government Affairs? Fulfill your Mission Statement: Voice for business Promote economic growth and development Advocate for the business community
  5. 5. Why be involved in Government Affairs? “Business must learn the lesson long ago learned by labor and other self-interest groups. This lesson is that political power is necessary; that such power must be assiduously cultivated and that, when necessary, it must be used aggressively and with determination – without the reluctance which has been so characteristic of American business.” -- Justice Lewis F. Powell, 1971, in a memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, prior to his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court
  6. 6. Overcoming obstacles to advocacy Shattering the myths . . . “Our chamber isn’t political.” Neither are pro-business public policy statements. Issues are not partisan. “It will jeopardize our tax status.” Actually, it won’t. In1975, the tax code was changed to permit a 501(c)6 organization to administer and solicit funds for political activities. As a result, today many chambers are forming political action committees to endorse and support pro-business candidates.
  7. 7. Overcoming obstacles to advocacy “It’s not our job and our by-laws prohibit political activity.” Your by-laws can be changed to match your mission, or your mission statement should be changed to match you by-laws. “Someone might get mad; we could lose members.” It will make more people happy and it will allow you to recruit new, stronger members who share your chamber’s vision for creating a healthier business climate.
  8. 8. Four Steps to a Successful Government Affairs Program STEP 1: Identify the issues that matter most to your members and then develop a policy agenda STEP 2: Spread the word STEP 3: Mobilize the troops (Grassroots) STEP 4: Follow-up and hold decision makers accountable
  9. 9. STEP 1: Adopt Policy Establish a legislative or government affairs committee to identify issues of importance Those you should consider avoiding placing on your committee include: • Elected Officials: Mayors, city council members, city government employees • Political party leaders • School superintendent or other association leaders
  10. 10. STEP 1: Adopt Policy What do your members care about? Survey them and find out! Pick your battles carefully. Avoid controversial issues that may split your membership, especially at first. Use the resources provided by your state chamber and the U.S. Chamber. Specific policies vs. broad policy statements Politics vs. Policy
  11. 11. The All-purpose Agenda Sample policy statement: The Anywhere Chamber of Commerce believes that adequate and affordable health care is important to all citizens. To ensure our member companies can offer the best possible options to their employees, we encourage: Greater options for individuals to choose the coverage that best meets individual needs and circumstances. Efforts to make health care affordable to small businesses and the self employed. Medical malpractice and other legal reforms that will make health care more affordable and accessible.
  12. 12. STEP 2: Spread the Word Inform your Membership Create and publish your legislative agenda Include your agenda/adopted policies in your newsletter, email and social media communications As the issues move forward, update your members on the progress
  13. 13. STEP 2: Spread the Word Inform your Community Promote newspaper articles featuring local businesses that highlight your position Write letters to the editor, signed by your board chairman, that outlines your position(s) Schedule meetings with newspaper editorial boards and key volunteers (board chairman, legislative committee chairman, etc.) Look for unique ways to get your message out (Example: Partner with local media outlets to provide regular updates/activities)
  14. 14. STEP 2: Spread the Word Inform your Elected Officials Provide written policy statements to all appropriate elected officials Ask them to identify where they stand on your issues Hold meetings with your legislative committee and elected officials to discuss your issues Boldly explain why your issues are important to the health of the business community
  15. 15. STEP 2: Spread the Word Join/Form Coalitions Local issues: Partner with organizations who care about the same issue and share your position Regional issues: Look beyond your traditional borders to other chambers and associations who share your views Federal issues: Build on existing partnerships spearheaded by the U.S. Chamber and other national organizations
  16. 16. STEP 2: Spread the Word Social Media Facebook Twitter YouTube LinkedIn
  17. 17. STEP 2: Spread the Word
  18. 18. STEP 2: Spread the Word
  19. 19. STEP 3: Grassroots Network Develop a Grassroots Network - a collection of e- mails of members interested in public policy efforts including: Members of your government affairs committee Board members Major contributors Most influential chamber members
  20. 20. STEP 3: Grassroots Network Using the Network Provide issue updates on a regular basis Issue “Calls to Action” as necessary, include: An issue summary Contact information for elected officials Timetable for action Gather Intel or feedback from elected officials WARNING!! Try not to overuse your grassroots network
  21. 21. STEP 4: Follow-up and Accountability Follow-up on the outcome of an issue: Elected officials Express thanks or disappointment Develop a scorecard or voting record Membership Use this as an opportunity to recruit new members to your grassroots network
  22. 22. Summary Identify the issues important to your chamber and adopt policy statements Spread the word – Membership, Community, Elected Officials Develop and effectively use a grassroots network Follow-up
  23. 23. Take it to the next level Recognize that it is easier to pass your agenda if your elected officials share your point of view. Candidate support Candidate Events (Hob-Nobs, Meet & Greets, Forums) Candidate Endorsements / PACs Candidate Training Programs
  24. 24. THANK YOU John Kirchner, Executive Director, Midwest Region (612) 619-2048