“If you’re not going to go all the way, why go at all?” This is attributed to Joe Namath, arguably someone who delivers on what he says (remember the Super Bowl guarantee?). It’s a great quote and one that can be applied to any aspect of life, business and even association activities. Would you ever do something in your business that doesn’t involve putting forth your best effort, using all the talent and resources you have available? I doubt it, and I wouldn’t expect it of our national trade association.
For many, many years, ASA has had a very productive relationship with Kent and O’Connor, our lobbyists in Washington, D.C. Jon Kent and Pat O’Connor have become a part of our association family, as recognizable as many of our long-time volunteers, and very ably represented our interests. Unfortunately, like much of the association’s activities, the budget for their services has decreased in recent years, just when legislation and regulation threats are increasing and ASA needs someone working full-time on behalf of our industry, our businesses.
The Executive Committee has agreed that if the ASA Government Affairs Committee can raise $100,000 in funds above ASA’s annual budget, ASA can hire a dedicated staff person to be based in Washington, D.C. The Committee believes that we can find a very aggressive, competent, young Capitol Hill staffer who would welcome an opportunity to build our Washington presence on a full-time basis and grow with ASA as our capability grows. The time has come for ASA to raise the stakes and devote the necessary resources to make it happen.
We believe that someone new to the lobbying side of the process would be willing to put in the time and effort it takes to be successful. Most of our issues take energetic, dedicated work such as knocking on many doors and developing close working relationships with like-minded organizations that can be brought to bear on an important issue. Washington, D.C., is full of young, smart, charismatic people, one of whom would embrace the chance to help us build our Washington presence.
We have looked at different options, like partnering with other national organizations. For example, groups like NAW do good work. They have led multi-organizational efforts such as LIFO Repeal and Card Check, and ASA is a part of these coalitions. But PHCP and PVF industry-specific bills that ASA has championed, such as metal theft and the W.A.T.E.R. Bill efforts, would not be a primary focus of groups like NAW. ASA would have to fight to be sure that any partner would focus on important PHCP and PVF industry issues. In addition, no one organization is large enough to affect legislation on its own. Even groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce need to reach out and build alliances in order to pass or defeat legislation. ASA must become a very active andequalfull-time partner with groups like NAW to defeat bad legislation like LIFO Repeal.
In recent weeks, ASA has taken immediate steps to intercede on the DOE showerhead legislation fiasco, promoted WaterSense rebates in job legislation, continued action on the LIFO bill and began efforts to create a national standard for lead regulation (as someone who has a business in California, where this is already an issue, I can’t stress enough how important having a national standard will be!). ASA is devoted to making a difference in these areas on behalf of our industry and our businesses. The successes we’ve had prove there is a need and there exists an audience for our issues. The time has come to do something substantial and hiring a full-time lobbyist is bold and visionary. It shows the leadership needed to become part of the solution in Washington. It’s going all the way, and ASA shouldn’t do anything less.
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