What Does “Lobbying for Our Members” Look Like for an Association?

Lobbying for our Members

This is can be one of those confusing benefits or values to belonging to an association. We all wonder what it means, how long will it take, how will it impact me? For the background, we’ve worked with our Lobbyist team for almost 20 years. This leads to great internal relationships, like working with the Chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee, Assembly Member Bonnie Lowenthal. Now, with this foundation, remember that just in the 2013-2014 Legislative Session there have already been nearly 5,000 bills introduced. So, we must review them all for impact on us, and attempt to get any we want to introduce onto the floor.

I’d like to give an example of what “Lobbying for our Members” looks like from a recent success story in California. Like most states, ours is low on funds and can’t afford to invest in the enforcement of new laws. With all the regulations we have in California, the towing industry has no specific ones other than in law enforcement towing and the basic motor carrier guidelines. In approaching the concerns with underinsured and often unprofessional towers, we found a means of self-enforcement, which meant we had a chance of getting the legislation passed. The control we have is in the release of vehicles from our impound facilities. By getting legislation passed that allowed us to deny releasing a vehicle to a company without a motor carrier permit, we at least made sure the people coming on to our property were insured and had worker’s compensation coverage, at a minimum protecting ourselves. So, here’s what the timeline looked like and how this law made it onto the books. Remember, this particular one was passed quickly. There were no opposing votes through the entire process. Typically, you should expect longer.

  • 2-20-13 Bill begins life sponsored by Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair of the Transportation Committee
  • 2-28-13 Referred to the Transportation Committee for Review
  • 4-09-13 Passed the Transportation Committee and referred to the Appropriations Committee
  • 4-17-13 Passed the Appropriations Committee back to the Assembly
  • 4-25-13 Passed the Assembly, referred to the Senate
  • 4-25-13 Passed to Committee on Rules for assignment in the Senate
  • 5-09-13 Assigned to Committee on Transportation & Housing(T&H)
  • 5-09-13 Amended and Re-referred to Committee on T&H
  • 5-29-13 Amended again and Re-referred to Committee on T&H
  • 6-11-13 Passed Committee on T&) and referred to Committee on Appropriations
  • 6-25-13 Read and forwarded to consent calendar(slated for vote)
  • 7-01-13 Passed in Senate, referred back to Assembly
  • 7-03-13 Assembly approved amendments
  • 8-01-13 Assembly passed bill to Governor
  • 8-13-13 Governor approved and chaptered by Secretary of State
  • 1/01/14 A NEW LAW ON THE BOOKS

In addition to initiating the process, the association publicized the new law, in our newsletter and in a special notification to members, as well as provided a sample printable wall chart for them to post in their offices. After the law was in effect for a few weeks, we came up with a list of five Frequently Asked Questions that were coming in to our office and again sent this info out to the members.

How do you measure this value? Members report numerous salvage towers coming in and just giving up when they realize this revenue stream is gone. Our member towers are getting a more level playing field, as “under the radar” operators will have the same expenses we do so therefore must drop out or raise their prices to a comparable rate.

Larry Muzamel
Executive Director
California Tow Truck Association