Political advocacy is one of your association’s largest endeavors. Laws and rules have a huge impact on how you run your business. A good law may provide necessary tools to accomplish you work while bad laws could tie your hands to the point your business is no longer viable. Your advocacy team is here to work hard supporting the good proposals while working hard to avoid laws that will negatively impact your industry.
Your advocacy team is headed by Matt Musgrave your Government Affairs Director. Matt works closely with the board of directors to establish a strategic plan each year that is used as a guide on how to approach policy. This strategic plan holds both broad goals and specific policy. The strategic plan is used by the Government Affairs Committee to establish priorities and positions for bills active in the legislature or policies within state agencies. The committee then votes directing the Government Affairs Directors actions. When highly controversial or complicated topics arise, the committee may make recommendations to the full board of directors prior to acting.
The Government Affairs Director then works with your advocacy team Heather Shouldice and Tess Kennedy from William Shouldice & Associates LLC. Your advocacy team tracks hundreds of bills to see if there will be an impact on contractors and supplies a full list to the Government Affairs Committee who then decides which proposals to get involved with. The advocacy team then studies the proposals to decide upon a course of action.
Once a bill is introduced it is assigned to a committee relevant to the proposal for debate. For example: a bill regarding water quality would be assigned to the committee Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife. The committee then selects advocates from all sides of the issue to testify so they can vet the proposal. The reason the committee depends on advocates is that they are generally the subject matter experts. In 2019, your advocacy team was contacted and invited a building material supplier to testify on the ban of an insulation product. The material supplier was successful in showing that the product was currently the only material on the market that could be used for weatherizing homes, and the committee decided to add an extension to the bill so that prior to the ban a new product could be engineered for use. The committee wants to know that the bill will accomplish its goals without causing unintended consequences which is the reason for testimony.
Once the bill passes committee it either heads to another committee or will be put out for a floor vote. Your advocacy team then notifies legislators about AGC/VTs position and asks for either a yea or nea vote. Another tool used by your advocacy team is the “Call to Action”. The call is to the membership who are then asked to contact their local representatives to ask for support or opposition. This direct contact from a constituent can sometimes make the difference to an elected legislator.
If a bill successfully passes out of both the House and the Senate it is then delivered to the Governor who can choose to sign it in to law, let it become law without a signature or veto the bill. Your association and others if there is a coalition will message the administration with concerns or support of the bill.
It doesn’t end with the passage of legislation. Many bills require action by state agencies and AGC/VT staff continues to track the progress from passage of the bill through rule making. In rule making agencies translate the bills intent to specific guidelines to be followed by industry. Your team at AGC/VT is dedicated to working hard to protect your business by working with agencies, politicians and other business groups to strive for a better Vermont.