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Five Myths About ESA’s Day on Capitol Hill: You Don’t Know Unless You Go

Posted By Bob Ogle, Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Day on Capitol Hill is one of ESA’s most important events. So why do we hear so many excuses for not attending?

There are many myths surrounding the event, and we’ve heard them all. As staff liaison to the ESA’s Government Affairs committee, I’d like to take a moment to bust the myths and offer some facts on why you should attend this year’s event, which is scheduled for May 6 & 7 in Washington, D.C.

Myth: "It doesn’t make any difference whether I’m there.”

Fact: I’m going to defer to Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee who spent an evening in a question-and-answer session with ESA attendees last year. His full article is here, but here is the most telling excerpt:

There is no way we can be experts on every issue coming through the various committees. We can however, rely on experts from various fields and the opinions from constituents. A pro-active conference like ESA’s Day on Capitol Hill, along with visits from my constituents, provides my office with another resource for valuable insight as questions arise about impacts a bill may have on a certain industry.

Simply stated, we cannot represent our constituents if we do not know what they think.

Here’s the short version: Members of Congress are many things, but they are not mind-readers. The only way they know what you think is if you tell them – directly. The fact that Rep. Reed was willing to personally visit our group was icing on the cake.

Myth: "I don’t know anything about government relations.”

Fact: It doesn’t matter. All your homework is done for you. ESA Director of Government Relations John Chwat and his hard-working staff put together notes and talking points, facts and figures. Everything is meticulously planned. All you have to do is deliver the message about what’s important to our industry and our association.

Myth: "It’s going to be boring.”

Fact: Far from it. You’re in our nation’s capital – one of the most beautiful cities in America – attending luncheons and dinners at some of the best spots in town, hearing personally from members of Congress, and getting to "network” (code word for "hang out”) with old friends and make new friendships that will last for years. What’s not to like?

Myth: "None of the members of Congress really understand my issues back home.”

Fact: That's why you need to go. If you don't tell your legislators about the issues affecting your life and business, who will? And they will listen. As many appointments as possible will be set with Congressional members from your area and your state. You'll have the chance to tell them how their actions and votes affect you on the local level. This is information they need to hear.

Myth: "There’s nothing in it for me.”

Fact: Quite the opposite: There’s everything in it for you. This is going to be a busy, and potentially game-changing, year in politics. You’ll not only be doing a great service to your industry and your association, but you’ll come away with a deeper understanding of how things work on Capitol Hill and the issues that will affect your business in the years to come.

Tags:  Congress  Day on Capitol Hill  Government Relations 

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