From the Chief's Corner: Government Relations/Public Policy – The Time is Now…

Posted on December 20, 2018.
Chief Alan W. Perdue (Ret). SBC Executive Director

Safer Buildings Coalition to Stand Up a Government Relations Work Group

Volunteers Sought to Provide Industry Expertise in this Critical Effort

READ OUR KEY POLICY INITIATIVES DOCUMENT: CLICK HERE

December 20, 2018 

It would be easy to overlook the vital role all levels of government can have on our industry.  But government actually has significant impact on public safety and our mission at the Coalition.

Chief Alan Perdue AHJ Training

State legislatures in 47 states and the District of Columbia introduced over 180,000 bills and passed more than 24,000 of them into law in 2014, according to the Washington Post.  In the current 115th Congress, over 12,000 bills and resolutions have been introduced. How many of those will impact our industry? Is anyone monitoring them? Will those that become law have a positive or negative impact on the safety of the building occupants? These are all questions that need to be answered, and it is much easier to do that as a group. This is why we need our members to be involved.

There are various ways to get involved, one of which is to participate in the legislative process by voting. Beyond voting, the most effective way to influence policy makers and advocate issues of importance to the Safer Buildings Coalition is to communicate with elected officials about needed or pending legislation. This can be done by phone, email, letter, or face-to-face meeting.  Putting your views in writing remains an effective communication tool.  Crafting a personal, reasoned email or letter on an issue also has impact.  While “form emails” are beneficial, personalized communication is a better approach. However, one of the best ways to make a point to your legislators, is to meet with them face-to-face.  And as you get to know your legislators and build relationships with them, your effectiveness as an influencer will only increase.

As an elected official myself, I find that people often believe that their input is not necessary.  That could not be further from the truth.  There is no way that lawmakers can know the details needed to make informed decisions about every issue that comes before them.  They appreciate, and often seek the input of, subject matter experts with whom they have developed relationships and built trust to enhance their understanding of complex issues. Many of our members have expertise that can be beneficial to the decision-making process, and a government relations committee can help develop those relationships that are vital to the process.

On December 11, 2018, SBC General Manager John Foley and I had the opportunity to work with Rasky Partners, Inc. and meet with the Legislative Assistants of Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ).  Our initial discussions focused on potential tax code incentives for building owners who install in-building solutions in existing buildings and school safety initiatives related to in-building communications.  Their support of our industry is critical, and our recent experience on Capitol Hill has shown that they are approachable and open to ideas and discussions related to solving the issue of communications inside buildings.

Over the last couple of months, your Board of Directors has been evaluating the creation of a Government Relations Committee.  At the recent strategic planning session, the Board approved the creation of the committee.  The Government Relations Committee will serve as the primary “eyes and ears” of the Coalition on legislative and regulatory matters at local, state and national levels. The committee will advise and provide recommendations on lobbying efforts and advocacy responses to the SBC Board.  In today’s world of evolving policies, the Government Relations Committee will be a vital link to meetings with key agencies and lawmakers to stay on top of key issues impacting our industry. We will work to express the voice of the Safer Buildings Coalition to key government stakeholders, and if staying on top of legislative issues is important to you and your company, I encourage you to join me on the Government Relations Committee.

A Call for Action, We Need You!!!

Members of the Government Relations Committee must be the right individuals. They must have the ability to work with people of varying opinions, have an interest in politics and be familiar with state and national legislative processes.  Additionally, they should strive to be consensus builders and must have the desire and drive to be successful in promoting Safer Buildings Coalition issues at the federal and state levels. 

If you believe that you or someone within your organization would be the right fit for the Government Relations Committee, please CONTACT US HERE and let us know your interest..  

John F. Kennedy said it best: “If not us, who? If not now, when?”  In reality, “YOU” can make a difference. 

Working together, we can shape the future for Public Safety and the Public’s Safety.

Alan John Bethany DC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L-R: Alan Perdue, Bethany Bassett - SVP Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications, John Foley