We begin by offering our thanks to speakers Senator Tom Takubo, Scott Cosco and Mike Clowser. These three shared their different perspectives as a legislator, as a lobbyist with clients across different industries and a lobbyist representing a single association. Below are some bullet points highlighting their remarks.
- Senator Tom Takubo, MD, said the 2021 legislative session will likely be a hybrid model of in-person and virtual activities, although the worst case scenario would be virtual only activities. He said final options are likely to be evaluated 10 days prior to the February session.
- He would like to have lobbyists and the media participating in person, if possible, and says he’s “all ears” to our ideas for the process, be it Zoom, Google Teams, appointments or other options.
- A rule change is being evaluated, Takubo said, to allow bills to “stay alive” between years of this session. This would apply to bills that weren’t killed, but perhaps didn’t make it out of committee.
- In response to a question on safety and security protocols, he said those are in place and people may be able to show a card proving they’ve received both parts of the vaccination to get into the Capitol.
- Scott Cosco said H2C Strategies has held virtual meetings and group meetings with clients and specific lawmakers and regulators during the past few months.
- In addition, they hosted “Meet the Candidate” forums for several client groups.
- They’ve also had to address non-legislative issues on COVID-19 items with clients during this time, such as safety and cleaning, business openings and restrictions and other pandemic impacts on their client associations and companies during the majority of 2020 and into 2021.
- They are looking forward to working with legislators and regulators in whatever ways are possible during the 2021 legislative session.
- “I’ve learned what not to do over the past few decades,” said Mike Clowser of his legislative experience with the Contractors Association of West Virginia (CAWV).
- From an association-only perspective, we did legislative fly-ins to DC for 30 years, but not in 2020.
- Clowser said “the well” has always been a great source of information between groups, including lobbyists and legislators. Since renovations began, there has even been decreased interaction between the two houses, and this is going to be one more session without “the well.”
- CAWV creates a legislative key person network, sends weekly legislative bulletins for the industry, as well as legislative alerts on specific bills with identification of actions needed. If necessary, staff will call members to call specific legislators on a bill or issue. Clowser said he think legislative blasts are ineffective, preferring direct member contact by personal call, personal email or in-district meetings.
- Virtual meetings may not be popular, since people are “Zoomed-out” by now. We’ll have an opportunity for input, but what will be most effective…limit the number of bills introduced, an extended recess or other options? We’re still here, we still have members and there’s still business to do.
To hear the complete audio recording of the meeting, click here.