Politics Aren’t Always Local
Had a great week in D.C. with the NAA Capital Conference and Lobby Day on Capitol Hill. Lobby Day was particularly productive this year. With in-office meetings with one Senator and four House of Representatives and/or their Legislative Staffs, we educated them on the NAA core initiatives for this year – tax reform, flood insurance and ADA “drive-by” lawsuits. It was an honor to serve as a foot soldier with this army of dedicated, professional volunteers in the battle to promote and protect our industry.
The education of members of Congress (MOC) was most effective when demonstrating how these issues were impacting constituents in the members’ district and state. For example, our right to cure solution for the ADA lawsuits was easily understood when we showed the very recent publicity of the proliferation of ADA suits in Colorado. We showed the MOC and staff relatively unbiased news accounts of one individual filing 64 separate ADA access lawsuits, and another filing 42. The news story poked several holes in the lawsuits even before they got to court – showing several businesses were closed at the time of the visit by the plaintiffs, etc. The MOC and staffs understood that even if these multiple suits had merit, a right to cure option would be much more productive – and more in tune with the spirit of the ADA legislation – than a quick monetary settlement.
Our visits were exceptionally well timed for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reauthorization. We demonstrated that private flood insurance markets are virtually non-existent or un-proportionately expensive. While we would love to have a private market alternative, we showed how vital the federal program is to protecting so many of our assets if and until a private alternative is available. The day after our visits, the House Financial Services Committee’s Housing and Insurance subcommittee met and took the first steps to reforming and reauthorizing the program. NAA talks, Congress listens!
We tailored our comments on tax reform to education and rapid response advocacy. We expressed our industry’s concerns on the issues of interest deductibility, cost recovery, rate reductions, like-kind exchanges, carried interest, etc. But our most fervent lobbying was to put NAA and our volunteers at the top of the tax reform “rolodex.” We let the MOC and staff know that we appreciated the “sausage making” aspects of legislation as complicated as tax reform – and the difficulty in balancing the MOC’s constituents’ many sacred cows. We demonstrated we could be an invaluable – and a real time – resource to the MOC in evaluating the impact of any mark ups and amendments to the tax reform legislation. And perhaps even more importantly, a resource in assisting the MOC in understanding how the transition rules of any bills will impact our industry and others like it.
It was another great experience to lobby on behalf of NAA and our industry. I know there are some out there who feel all politics are local and therefore believe lobbying on the local and state level is more important and immediate than working the feds. I understand the sentiment. I would amend that old truism from All Politics Are Local to All Politics Are Local – Until the Feds Say They Aren’t. Local, state and federal lobbying and advocacy are all vital to promoting and protecting our industry. Industry killing legislation and regulations can come from any level of government or quasi-government agency. Legislation by anecdote is rampant in this time of housing affordability concerns. Please join us at NAA AND your local affiliates to be a positive voice in advocating for our industry.
By Rocky Sundling, Senior Regional Manager at Greystar in Greenwood Village, Colo.