Jennifer Mendez Educates: Lobbyists Do More than Just Ask. CRI Group Tells Representatives Improved Economy Key to Carpet Industry Rebound
Last week I made my annual pilgrimage to Capitol Hill on behalf of the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI). I’ve done it every year for the past ten years, and it’s always exciting – lots of work, grueling on my feet – but nonetheless exciting. I travel to “the Hill” throughout the year for meetings on a variety of issues that are important to CRI’s members, but this organized effort, with my members in tow, is always an exciting experience. (Here is the link to CRI’s Newsline from March 14.) One new twist – for this year’s Washington, DC trip, CRI partnered with the Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce. One bonus of the partnership was that we had enough people again this year to split into two separate groups – easier to “divide and conquer”. In just a day and a half, CRI members visited 25 Congressional offices and hosted a reception in the Capitol Visitor’s Center for over 75 Congressional members and their staff.
In my opinion, the value of doing this sort of visit every year is immeasurable. Nothing compares to the relationship-building and networking opportunity of face-to-face meetings with lawmakers.
As a lobbyist, I know that there is a widespread perception (justified or unjustified) that lobbyists only make the trek to the Hill because they have an “ask”, but I assert that that is not always the case. Lobbyists are educators. These visits offer the opportunity for our members to educate lawmakers about the issues that are facing our industry.
Topping the list (one again) this year was the economy. We shared that, although the commercial market has seen slight improvement, the downturn in the housing industry has really taken its toll on residential carpet sales.
Members also voiced concern about the uncertainty of the economy. Six month fixes to taxes are difficult for businesses. Legislators need to know that businesses need more certainty as they work on strategic plans.
Other issues that we discussed included the use of, and potential regulation of coal fly ash, activities proposed by the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) and the regulatory landscape in general.
~ Jennifer Mendez