Laura Heiselman has been the Florida Apartment Association’s Government Affairs Director for two years, working in association with 11 Florida affiliates representing nearly 6,000 members with more than 415,000 units.
(Image - Laura Heiselman, FAA)
What issues are you expecting to be priorities this session?
The Florida Apartment Association (FAA) just returned from our Legislative Days in Tallahassee. We opted to go during committee weeks so that we’d have a greater opportunity to interact with our legislators and share our 2014 platform prior to the March 4 start of the legislative session.
With this being an election year, we anticipate that our leaders will take a conservative approach to the issues. FAA identified three categories for our 2014 Platform: Support, Oppose and Monitor/Research.
- We support encouraging residents to carry renter’s insurance
- We support strengthening the state’s preemptive authority
- We support tort reform efforts
- We support the continued funding of the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund and its intended purpose
- We oppose the creation of additional protected classes
- We oppose additional licensing requirements
- Building/fire code revisions
- Unlicensed maintenance activity
- Premises liability
- Property tax issues
- Medicinal marijuana
Why is your Lobby Day important for members?
Our Legislative Days are critically important because our members are the best source of information and most credible resource for our elected officials. As constituents and business professionals, our members carry the most weight because they have the real-life, anecdotal evidence to support our positions.
Perhaps most importantly, the physical presence of our members allows us to initiate or continue to cultivate relationships with our legislators and members of staff. After all, our industry is known for being friendly and outgoing and that is certainly an advantage when hoping to leave a lasting impression!
What is your message to your legislators?
Our message is to articulate our platform and encourage our legislators to keep us in mind as bills are being introduced. If anything, our hope is to have a seat at the table and be on their list of resources when issues of relevance to the apartment industry are being reviewed. We want them to view us as partners in creating a vibrant, pro-business state that boasts a quality of life unlike any other.
Where were you before FAA?
My professional background is in Florida politics and government. I served as a lobbyist for the National Federation of Independent Business, as a fundraiser and events coordinator for the Republican Party of Florida and as a member of Governor Jeb Bush’s Transition Team. Prior to joining FAA in February 2012, I led the fundraising efforts for United Arts of Central Florida, where my development committee and I were successful in raising more than $2.8 million for the local arts community.
Many thanks to Laura for being our first participant in the Apartment Advocate Affiliate Spotlight!