Climate Change and Lobbying: For or Against?

smokestacks

Ever since former Vice President Al Gore brought to light the effects of global warming and climate change, it has changed how people regard our eco-system and environment. While many businesses and politicians disregarded the Vice President’s research and how our carbon emissions and other bad habits could potentially bring about the destruction of our environment, others were more greatly concerned about protecting our planet for future generations.
Nonprofits started to form, and lobbying efforts to encourage and promote recycling were born. Awareness about how people could make their lives more “green-friendly” and reduce their carbon footprints started to become more abundantly available. Even businesses and corporations were encouraged to get on board, and the push for the paperless office movement began.

Even the federal government got involved after DC lobbyists started to inform lawmakers of public opinions. As a result, the federal government phased out the production of incandescent light bulbs, started setting aside money for research into alternative fuel and energy sources, and taking other steps to help promote a greener environment.

While there have been positive results for climate change by lobbying firms, there are others who are against regulations and reforms, as it would mean a change in how they do business. Mainly, businesses that are considered “brown,” or those that generate an excessive amount of carbon emissions in industries, include:

  • Petro, Oil, and Gas
  • Utility Providers
  • Automotive

Even though many businesses within these three industries spent the most on lobbying against reforms for climate change, there were still many operations that invested in lobbying in support of climate change reforms.

In fact, based upon research data collect from 2006 to 2009, the amounts invested by firms for lobbying efforts either for or against climate change was almost equal. The resulting spectrum was U-shaped, with those organizations that did not have much to gain or lose at the bottom of the spectrum.

reduced environmental impactOne of the main reasons a company within one of these three industries would support climate change is it would help provide them with a competitive advantage over other firms opposed to reforms. For instance, in the automotive industry, certain automakers in support of climate change could benefit if there were developing solar powered electric vehicles or other break-through technologies that were not reliant on fossil fuels.

Another example which would create a competitive advantage is if a petrol, oil, and gas company were to develop a synthetic form of gasoline.

One of the primary reasons “brown” operations oppose reforms is the cost the companies will incur to update and change how they do business. For instance, if new reforms are passed that ban certain chemicals, a company might have to discontinue a profitable product line.

As you can see, there can be valid points made by both “green” and “brown” organizations about why they are either for or against reforms to climate change regulations and laws. To ensure your voice and position on climate change is heard on the Hill, do not hesitate to call Lobbyit at 202.587.2736 today.

Source

  1. https://hbr.org/2016/10/research-whos-lobbying-congress-on-climate-change

Lobbying Firms Want Reforms to Obamacare

lobbying for reform

The recent announcement that the costs of Obamacare are expected to increase significantly in the coming year has some people worried. Initially, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was meant to make insurance affordable for millions of Americans. However, since its launch, insurance costs have slowly increased.

In order to offset the small increases in premiums, the federal government increased the subsidy amounts qualified people received. Unfortunately, this was only a “Band-Aid” that did not address the underlying problems with the program. As a result, lobbying firms and lobbyists are pushing for reforms to Obamacare in efforts to encourage improvements within the program, while at the same time addressing the increase in insurance premiums.
Another problem with the current ACA system is each state was tasked with providing plans and coverage through various providers. As a result, providers in every state are able to set the costs for coverage. For instance, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is proposing a 50% increase in premiums in New Mexico for 2017. Yet, in other states, BCBS premium increases are not expected to be as significant, though BCBS has proposed a 30% increase in four other states.

Lobbyists working for insurance companies state the reasons for the increased premiums is largely due to having access to better data about the types of illnesses and services people require, which they did not have prior to the start of the ACA. With more people seeking healthcare services, healthcare providers have also increased the rates they charge to offset the allowable amounts most plans provide.

For example, a typical office visit to an in-network provider was billed at $75 to a patient’s insurance a few years ago. Today, regular office visit rates are now $150 or more, depending on where the patient resides. Even though providers rarely get the full amount they bill for office visits, allowable limits have crept up, too.

Further fueling the increased insurance premiums are the drastic increases in prescription medications. Pharmaceutical companies have significantly ramped up the costs for a wide range of medications in recent years. While an insured person does not notice this increase, as their co-pay may have only changed a few dollars, the insurance companies are being hit with paying the increased costs.

For instance, if a prescription previously cost $150 a month before Obamacare, it is not uncommon to see that same medication being billed to insurance companies by as much as $400 for a 30-day supply. It is for these reasons and others that reforms are needed—and quickly.

Obtaining the necessary reforms and modifications to the ACA could prove challenging in the current Republican-controlled congress. Many Republicans have decided they do not intend to take action on any reforms until after the election on November 8th since Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has stated on numerous occasions, if elected, he plans on dismantling Obamacare.

lobbyists want healthcare reformHowever, at least for 2017, President Obama is pushing for increased tax credits to help offset the latest premium increases, pending potential reforms to the ACA before 2018.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Obamacare pending the outcome of the presidential election. In the meantime, for assistance with lobbying efforts, and to ensure your voice and that of your business is heard, contact the experienced lobbyists at Lobbyit today at 202.587.2736.

 

 

 

 

Five Reasons to Lobby for Your Cause

lobbying for good cause

You might think only big businesses rely upon lobbying firms to help lobby for their causes. However, people and businesses of all sizes can utilize lobbying efforts to ensure their opinions and voices are heard by lawmakers and politicians. Lobbying is an essential part of our democratic system and can help bring about change.

Whether you are a small business owner or part of an association, operate a nonprofit, are a university board member, or want to ensure your local municipality obtains federal funds, there are many reasons how lobbying can benefit you.

lobby for a good cause

  1. Lobbying Helps Influence Laws – Laws help bring about change, and people and groups of all sizes, with the support of lobbying firms, have brought about reforms to child care, social security, and the environment.
  2. The Work of One Can Make a Difference – All it takes is one person to initiate awareness about an issue and find others with the same ideals to start to bring about change. Whether it is something you are personally struggling with or a proposed change in the law you disagree with, your efforts are important and they matter. Reforms to child support laws across the country began with the efforts of a lone single mother.
  3. Politicians and Lawmakers Rely upon Input for Lobbyists – Public opinion about politics is often shaped by the amount of information and awareness provided by lobbyists. In turn, politicians and lawmakers listen to information they receive from lobbyists to help them make decisions. In addition, lobbying efforts help determine how federal and state budgets are developed and where the funds are spent.
  4. One Person’s Efforts Lead to People and Groups Working Together – As awareness of a cause is raised, it often leads to others with similar ideals and objectives. As people and groups start to form and combine their efforts, it brings about change. For example, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) came about after Candy Lightner founded the organization after a drunk driver hit and killed her daughter, Cari Lightner on May 3, 1980. Today, it is one of the most influential nonprofits that helps shape impaired and drunk driving laws nationwide. (Source: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/madd-founders-daughter-killed-by-drunk-driver)
  5. Lobbyists Help Create Real Solutions to Problems – Once a problem has been identified, lobbyists work with politicians and lawmakers to look for ways to resolve them, for the betterment of people. For instance, lobbyists made it possible for restaurants to donate food to homeless shelters and those in need in many areas where this was once against the law.

secure justiceWhile anyone can start lobbying efforts, it is often better to obtain help from a qualified lobbying firm, as there are specific guidelines, regulations, and reporting requirements. Plus, with the help of a lobbyist, your cause could grow and gather support more quickly. As it grows, the lobbyist is able to represent the entire group and their objectives. For more information about lobbying and what to do to get your voice heard by politicians and lawmakers, contact Lobbyit at 202.587.2736 now.

 

What Is a PAC, Anyway?

PAC defined

With the election just right around the corner, most people keeping up with the presidential race have probably heard the terms PAC and Super PAC mentioned numerous times and might be wondering what they are. Both PACs and Super PACs play a role in swaying public opinions in politics.

To begin with, PAC is short for Political Action Committee. A PAC is formed whenever two or more people, businesses, or organizations decide to pool their resources and use them in support of the candidates they like, as well as to oppose the candidates they do not. In addition, PACs can use their money to help influence legislative actions in the House and Senate, as well as for ballot measures. They can even use funds to retain the services of lobbyists.

The amount of money PACs can raise and use for their various causes does vary depending upon the type of PAC. If the PAC is formed in support of local or state politicians running for office, the state could impose caps on exactly how much money the PAC can raise, but that is not always the case. In Oregon, for instance, the state does not have a cap on the amount PACs can raise.

Raising money is just one aspect of a PAC. The other aspect is spending money, like those “paid for by … ” ads that appear on your TV during election years. When it comes to spending money, PACs have to keep detailed records, showing exactly where every penny was spent. They must report their spending to either the appropriate state or federal agency. Reports must detail salaries, advertisements, supplies, rents, day-to-day operational expenses, dinners, and so on.

Further, while there may or may not be a limit on the amount of money a PAC can raise, they must also keep detailed records on donors. These records must show the amount of money donated and the date.

Lastly, PACs are not allowed to have direct contact with the candidates, or attempt to coordinate their efforts. It can seem like the rules regulating these actions are rather vague, so some PACs might push the limits as far as they can without violating the rules.

business-professionalsFor example, it is perfectly acceptable for PACs to communicate with candidates through the media. Once the information is public, then either the candidates or PACs can use it to further their objectives, and it not considered a violation of the rules.

Super PACs are more commonly formed for political issues, campaigns, and candidates seeking offices at the federal level. Currently, Super PACs are free to raise as much money as they desire without any caps. Just like state PACs, they must file reports showing a list of their donors, the amount donated, when it was donated, and where they have spent the money they have raised.

For help with political issues, not just at election time, please feel free to contact the experienced lobbyists at Lobbyit by calling 202.587.2736 today.

 

What Is “Soft” Lobbying?

hire-a-lobbyist

“Soft” lobbying is a new form of lobbying some corporations are pursuing in addition to traditional lobbying efforts through Washington lobbyists. In the past, corporations would retain the services of registered lobbyists from top lobbying firms to help support their causes and objectives. However, with the shift in lobbying contributions and donations, largely due to the Obama administration, lobbyists were finding their efforts restricted. As a result, corporations were not achieving the desired results.

With “soft” lobbying, corporations make donations to non-profit agencies, who, in turn, use the money to help influence and shape policies within the government. The best way to think of this form of lobbying is it is a “back door” to gain influence and attempt to sway politicians toward a group’s objectives, but without a “frontal” assault, so to speak.

To further illustrate the concept of “soft” lobbying, it is best to provide this example. Back in 2014, one of the first “soft” lobbying efforts was launched by Citizens for Health. Its objective was to encourage the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to require better labeling on food and beverages containing high-fructose corn syrup. Their campaign even extended to educating consumers.

However, what was not well-known then was the group received the majority of its financial support from numerous companies within the sugar industry. Sugar companies are highly competitive with corn syrup producers, and have been for years. The use of Citizens for Health was a wise move to help influence policies within the government.

Not just sugar firms are employing “soft” lobbying tactics. There are growing numbers of other operations in numerous industries, as well as personal interest groups, utilizing non-profits and other outlets, like funding research to support expert testimony, to sway public opinions, and, therefore, to direct the decisions being made in Washington.

top lobbying firms are affordable too

One of the main benefits of taking this approach is not having to deal with the rules and regulations registered lobbyists must adhere to, like having to publicly list where they obtained their donations. Currently non-profits are not required to share this information, so their list of donors can remain anonymous.

The trend has been evident in the steady decline in donations being made to registered lobbying firms. Corporations are reinvesting the money they previously donated to registered lobbyists by using “soft” lobbying, since there are no reporting requirements on how much they invest in non-profits to help influence public and political opinions and laws.

This does not mean traditional lobbying is going to disappear. With the pending presidential election, both Democratic and Republican nominees have been receptive to lobbying and support from K-Street firms. As such, depending upon the outcome of the election, there could potentially be a shift once more in the methods corporations will utilize in the future. To discover how Lobbyit can help businesses of all sizes, even small businesses, contact us at 202.587-2736 and have your voice heard where it matters most.

The Future of Lobbying Under a Trump Administration

lobbying will change

President Obama’s current anti-lobbyist efforts are up for debate as we near the Presidential election. As we have already seen in the Democratic Party and presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, they have essentially relaxed the Obama administration’s policies on lobbying contributions and donations. The Trump campaign early on was reluctant to be swayed by lobbyists.

Initially, the Trump campaign took a reserved approach to lobbying, much like Obama did during his initial run for president and his re-election campaign. However, there has been some shift within the Trump camp in the past several months, with support from lobbyist groups and firms.

Long before Trump received the nomination, many DC lobbying firms were already taking a stance between the—then potential—candidates seeking the nomination during the primaries. Many lobbying firms said they would prefer it if Trump was nominated, as he seemed more approachable and willing to at least listen to their causes, whereas, with the other candidates, lobbyists were worried it could mean further restrictions and limitations in the future.

Even still, the future of lobbying is not written in stone. If Trump were elected president in November, his support for or against lobbying efforts is not entirely clear. On one hand, if the lobbying is directly related to a cause Trump actively supports, then chances are he would be receptive. On the other hand, if the lobbying were directly opposed to a cause he supported, then he might take a different stance on lobbying.2016-election

Part of what makes Trump more appealing is his nature to want to deal with things quickly to get things done. Some speculate Trump would not be opposed to negotiating to ensure his goals were achieved during his presidency and would be willing to cross certain lines others have been reluctant to or refused to cross, in the past. Essentially, this makes him a perfect person for lobbyists to work with and gives them the ability to help influence policies within the executive branch of government.

With Trump’s strong corporate background, along with his idea of government, it could potentially mean as president that there would be no limits placed on the government and its ability to get things done. Rather, the government would be enabled to do what it had to do, which opens up the door for support for various causes whether they are for tax breaks for keeping jobs in America, environmental issues, or other such causes.

Regardless whether you support Trump or Clinton, one thing is for certain: Obama’s restrictions on lobbying appear to be changing for the better for lobbying firms in DC. Lobbyit is here to lend our support in ensuring your voice is heard on the Hill for those causes you support. Contact us by calling 202.587.2736 to learn more and see how we can help.

What a Hillary Presidency Could Mean for Lobbying

capitol buidling

Under the Obama administration, lobbying efforts and donation support by lobbying firms was scrutinized. However, there seems to be a thaw occurring in the Democratic Party with Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Clinton has relaxed the former restrictions put in place by Obama for contributions and support from lobbyists during his eight years in office.

Hillary has graciously accepted donations and contributions from lobbyists of over $9 million, as of the end of July 2016. In addition, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) relaxed the former prohibitions on accepting lobbying contributions to support conventions and the party, in general. As a result, lobbyists are hopeful these changes will open up new opportunities, should Hillary be elected come November.

The objective of lobbyist groups during a Clinton presidency would be to help shape her platform and policies, and to potentially influence the executive branch of government. Unlike Obama, many feel Clinton understands the importance of finding and supporting the best causes that are of interest, not only in politics and Washington DC, but also those that benefit the general public.

During the time Obama has been in office, many lobbyists resorted to wearing a letter “L” on t-shirts to show their dissatisfaction with the President’s stance against accepting donations and contributions from lobbyists, and the people and businesses they represent. This campaign year things were entirely different, with many lobbyists pleasantly surprised in the changes by the DNC and Hillary allowing them to attempt to sway Democrats toward their views.

Additionally, the Clintons are not new to lobbying, and many on K Street have worked with former President Bill Clinton or Hillary in some fashion throughout both of their political careers. With the potential for her to be the first female to be elected as president and the unity of the Democratic Party, there are several potential historical milestones that could be realized, and lobbyists are anxious to be included.

2016 electionSince Hillary is more receptive to lobbyists than Obama is, it opens up doors that have been closed the past eight years. However, lobbying efforts extend beyond supporting Hillary. Support for Democratic candidates in congress is equally important. As we have seen with a Republican controlled congress and Democratic president, it makes things challenging and slows progress of our government.

Even if the Democrats are not able to regain control of congress, it does not mean Hillary will not be able to get things done. She has demonstrated on several occasions, in her time as a Senator, her abilities to unite both parties. Not to mention, there could be opportunities for her to nominate Supreme Court justices.

It is worth mentioning, if Hillary is elected president in November, it will be the first time the Democratic Party has held the office for the longest uninterrupted period of time since President Roosevelt held the office. For more information on lobbying, and to help get your voice heard on the Hill, no matter what candidates and causes you support, contact Lobbyit today at 202.587.2736.

How PACs Can Help Lobbying Efforts

PAC defined

In the world of politics, PACs (Political Action Committees) play an important role in influencing elections, supporting various candidates, and, ultimately, swaying elected officials to specific causes. The sole purpose of a PAC is to raise money in support of particular candidates and to use the money to help get them elected, as well as to defeat their opponents.

PACs, just like Washington DC lobbyists, must adhere to specific guidelines and regulations. Once a PAC has formed, it has ten days to register with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The FEC is a regulatory agency which was created in 1975 to enforce and oversee the FECA (Federal Election Campaign Act).

There is a diverse range of PACs, including those created by private individuals and those created by politicians. Private PACs allow people to contribute funds in support of a candidate running for office. The funds have to be kept separate from other funds, such a personal savings or checking accounts. As such, PACs must set up an account at a financial institution in the name of the PAC.

Another type of PAC is called a Leadership PAC. Politicians use these PACs as a way to help raise campaign funds for other candidates and politicians they support. FEC reporting requires the politician or candidate who created the PAC to be listed when submitting the necessary documentation.

Both types of PACs are limited in the monetary amounts they can contribute toward a candidate’s campaign. Currently, PACs are allowed to donate up to $15,000 per year to a national party committee, such as the Republican or Democratic Parties. In addition, they are allowed to contribute up to $5,000 per election in support of the candidate. Further, the cap on donations a PAC can accept is $5,000 per year, per individual or group.

The majority of PACs are created, and tie directly in with, lobbying efforts. PACs help represent labor, business, or other interests of specific groups. As a result, PACs help get officials elected who support specific causes. In turn, lobbyists can gain additional support for their causes when they are aligned with the candidate the PAC is supporting.

congressional change

Due to the regulatory nature of PACs, managing the funds and ensuring the PAC is compliant with reporting requirements, it is important to choose a qualified and reputable firm to provide PAC management services. These firms help keep track of incoming and outgoing funds, and keep detailed records of where the donations came from and how much has already been received or donated.

Another benefit of obtaining help from a PAC management service is they can help develop specific issue plans, agendas, and other such strategies to help increase awareness for the candidate, as well as gather support from lobbyists and lobbying firms who have similar aspirations.

For more information about PAC management services, lobbying services, and other solutions for getting support for candidates and issues you support, contact the experts at Lobbyit today by calling 202.587.2736.

Tips on How to Transform from an Activist to a Lobbyist

Lobbying Firms

In the world of politics there are activists and lobbyists. Activists perform the function of advocating either for or against some cause, idea, or other such issues affecting people. Lobbyists, on the other hand, work to influence the decisions of Congress, politicians, and public officials to get important issues introduced as bills and attempt to get them passed as laws. One of the key differences between the two is that lobbyists must adhere to strict rules and regulations established by various government agencies.

If you enjoy being an activist, at some point you might decide you want to try your hand at lobbying and becoming a lobbyist. There are local municipal lobbyists, state lobbyists, and Washington, DC lobbyists. How effective you are in your new role depends upon several factors, not to mention your ability to understand the differences between lobbying styles and local, state, and federal laws.

Tip # 1: Obey All Laws

Take the time to learn the laws, rules, and regulations lobbying firms and lobbyists must follow. It does not matter whether you are lobbying for money to build a new local city park or supporting a new gun control bill before Congress. Always work within the laws and remember to keep accurate records and report any necessary information to appropriate agencies.

Tip # 2: Understand and Learn Government Processes

At each level of government there are specific cycles you need to know. These cycles dictate when new bills can be introduced and the timeframe on how long before they must be voted on. In addition, keep in mind, in many cases it takes several cycles before a good bill is passed and enacted into law.

DC lobbying firmsTip # 3: Avoid Feeling Discouraged

Progress does not happen overnight, and legislative process can be time consuming. Unless you have a direct line to the White House and key people to help speed up the process, setbacks are bound to happen, especially when you are first starting out. Just remember, the work you are doing is vital to bring about change and progress.

Tip # 4: Keep Your Eye on the Prize

It is easy to get distracted and lose focus of the desired end-game. Your opponents will have their own bills and ideas that directly counter yours. Constantly seek out support from similar minded nonprofits, activists, and other groups, educate legislators about the important of your ideas and/or bills, and build sound strategies.

For more information on how to become a lobbyist, feel free to explore current openings at Lobbyit, or contact us at 202.587.2736. If you are a small or medium sized organization, let us provide the representation you need in Washington by taking advantage of our affordable lobbying packages to have your voice heard.

 

Capitol Hill’s Perspective on Drones

drones

As drone technologies have improved in recent years, so has the debate on Capitol Hill about how drones should and should not be regulated. While drones have been used extensively for various military applications for numerous years, the commercial and private use of drones has been a slow growth market segment. As such, the last time Congress reviewed legislation and regulation for non-military drones was in 2012.

However, that is about to change, with hundreds of thousands of drones being used by hobbyists and major companies, like Google and Amazon, who want to use the drones for automated package delivery systems. The objective of Congress is to provide guidance to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and its establishment of drone policies.

There are Washington DC lobbyists and advocates split on two sides of influencing regulations and rules for drone usage. On one side are the hobbyists and personal users, along with corporations, who want to see a broader range of reduced regulations. On the other side are proponents for tighter drone rules, increased safety, and control over their use.

Earlier this year there was much interest and attention placed on the re-authorization of a bill to enable the FAA funding and guidance to create regulations for commercialized drone testing and testing sites. As the FAA continues to explore its approach and what regulations it will eventually put into effect for drones, there have been an increase in lobbyist activities on Capitol Hill, with various groups meeting with the White House, FAA officials, and NASA officials.

Among one of the more recent changes enacted by the FAA is mandatory drone registration for recreational drone owners, which took effect back in December 2015. This change was implemented to help address concerns about safety and privacy. For commercial operations, the FAA currently reviews and authorizes business usage of drones on a case-by-case basis. It is hoped that, once the FAA establishes new regulations and rules, it will make it easier for businesses and will eliminate the current procedures.Washington Lobbyists

Both Google and Amazon have been rather active with their lobbying to attempt to speed up the process. These companies understand any regulation will probably be created in stages, as they expect the FAA to want more research and experimental testing to be completed, prior to developing federal regulation on the open use of drones by businesses for commercial delivery purposes.

Some drone manufacturers, along with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), are among those advocacy and lobbyist groups pushing for tighter controls and increased safety features in drones. ALPA would like to see legislation requiring registration when a drone is purchased in a retail store or online. In addition, those in support of increased safety features would like to see a bill introduced which would require manufacturers to build drones with avoidance and sensing technologies to help keep drones away from nearby people and objects.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of lobbying efforts, and what regulations and rules the FAA does create in the future. If your business wants its voice heard in Washington about its position on drones or other important issues, with the representation you deserve, call Lobbyit now at 202-587-2736 to help you get the most out of your elected officials and government agencies.