Pillow Talk - Advocacy Tip #5 - Know How To Play the Game
Last month, we explored AATC Advocacy Tip #4: Know How to Communicate. Regularly touching base through phone calls, text messages, following them on social media, emails, handwritten notes, etc. strengthens the bonds between you and elected officials. Like you and me, politicians appreciate a note on special occasions: birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, promotions, etc. Lately, elected officials at all levels of governments and across the political spectrum are under a lot of stress during the COVID-19 pandemic and social justice reform movement. A quick text that shows you appreciate their leadership will have a long-term positive impact.
As a multifamily housing industry advocate, your goal is to find a connection point, something (or someone) that personally connects you to elected officials. That way, when you meet with them, it is a conversation between friends. Bottom line: communicate, communicate, and communicate.
Now that you are Facebook friends with the entire Tarrant County congressional delegation, you must master Advocacy Tip #5: Know How to Play the Game.
Remember when you were a kid, and your friends were playing games and as soon as your best friend began to lose, they changed the rules? I am still not over Scotty Gammill saying my home-run did not count because it rolled under the fence and not over it! Seriously, those childhood experiences (Scotty was so wrong) prepared you and me for the rough and tumble, sharp-elbows, fever-changing world of politics.
To play the political game, you need to have basic knowledge of how proposals become laws and ordinances. In Washington, Austin, and cities throughout your County, most proposed legislation begins with committee consideration. Legislation is cussed and discussed, amended, ignored, expanded, and explored in committees.
Next, the entire legislative body votes on items that make it out of committee. Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill” is a fun way to review the federal legislative process. In Washington, legislation must pass both the House of Representatives and Senate and then be signed by the President to become a law. Similarly, state laws must pass both the Texas House and Senate, and the Governor has to sign them. With rare exceptions, city proposals merely need a majority vote of the city council to become ordinances.
Local, state and federal government departments implement the laws. If you have ever had a rogue code compliance inspector, then you know that bureaucrats can interpret or create rules and regulations that are not part of the original ordinance or law.
Apartment Association members have opportunities to impact legislation and regulation at each step in the process. From testifying in committee to meeting with elected officials, knowing the right time and place to interject our perspective into the legislative process is critical.
It is not enough to know the process—you must also be aware of the politics. Few laws and city ordinances are enacted or defeated purely based on the merits of the legislation. Slights, backroom deals, outside political pressures, pettiness, power, revenge, political survival, etc. often dictate the outcome. Former Speaker of the House Jim Wright once told me he never kept a list of his enemies—but he did keep a list of his friends.
AATC members will see this political drama play out locally this summer as cities grapple with tax rates, budget cuts, and more so, during the upcoming 2021 Texas Legislature Session as redistricting overshadows every aspect of the legislative process.
Knowing that the rules of the political game are ever changing (Scotty would love it) and our industry is impacted by politicians’ whims and capriciousness to ensure that our advocacy efforts succeed.
Perry Pillow is AATC’s Director of Government Affairs. For more information, contact Perry at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 817-616-0354. Link to original article: http://dimensionsmag.org/pillow-talk-advocacy-tip-5-know-how-to-play-the-game/