What can self-storage operators do if there is particularly helpful or damaging legislation under consideration? Becoming educated and involved is the best way to protect the rights and interests important to you. Believe it or not, visits, calls and personal e-mails from constituents really do have an impact on a legislator’s opinion. In fact, a recent study by the Congressional Management Foundation, a nonprofit that helps Congress members reach out to its citizenry, shows communication is the No. 1 thing that might change a Congress member’s opinion.
Attending a hearing, providing written testimony or participating in other grassroots efforts can significantly impact the outcome of bills. Industry associations often employ professional lobbyists to evaluate legislation and design strategies to positively impact legislation. The national Self Storage Association actively opposed the recent sales-tax bill in South Dakota, sending letters of opposition, notifying owners and operators of potential changes, and urging them to register their opinion. These efforts were critical in defeating this bill. Opportunity exists for self-storage owners in Pennsylvania to follow a similar model, get active and help move the property-insurance policies bill out of the House Insurance Committee.
As adoption numbers demonstrate, bills often are not signed into law. Identifying a bill’s chance of success can help individuals and associations to gauge whether an active response is likely to be necessary or a bill they support is set up to succeed. Key success factors for bills include:
- Sponsor numbers: Generally, the more sponsors a bill has, the more likely it will pass.
- Bipartisan bills: Bills representing interests from more than one party can indicate a broader level of support and success.
- Committee members: Are the sponsors of the bill also on the committees considering the bill? Committee member buy-in improves the success rate.
- Progress: Determine how far through the process the bill is. Legislature stalled in committee can be a red flag.
- Prior track records: New bills have a better chance of being passed than bills that have failed in previous years.
Monitoring and tracking state legislation makes good business sense and isn’t difficult with online resources. Trade journals and forums can help identify relevant bills. A search of websites tracking legislative data will identify free and paid resources for proactive monitoring. If you see a bill that concerns you or your business, get involved! It could mean business success or survival.
Karen Suhaka is founder of LegiNation and creator of BillTrack50, a new set of online services to track legislative information and gain improved insight into the progress and details of topically relevant bills. By using data to make more informed decisions, organizations can partner with government to define language in bills, make strategic business decisions, support or oppose bills and spot developing political trends. BillTrack50 is available in free and subscription options. For more information, call 303.809.2046; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.billtrack50.com.