A guest blog by Seth Barnett, PPAI Government Relations Manager
State of the States
Earlier this month, PPAI Government Relations Manager Seth Barnett attended the National Conference of State Legislators in Seattle, where he connected with state-level leaders from across the nation. More than 5,500 state politicians, legislative staff members, and non-profit and trade association leaders met to discuss the most pressing issues faced by the states. This year’s theme focused on states learning to work effectively despite any standstills at the federal level. Many of the speakers looked to empower state officials to become more hands-on in their legislative approach. Presenters and leaders issued a call for renewed advocacy at the business level. Many businesses neglect connecting with state officials, though as political efforts progress, the need for this connection is always present.
The previous legislative conference focused on dwindling American approval of the U.S. Congress, and ways state legislators can avoid the same situation. This year the idea was given new emphasis as legislators and staff were challenged to better understand their constituents. This personal level of connection is often overlooked at the state level but there is a growing need for businesses to be understood by those who represent them in the state houses. Much of the content surrounded some of the work that is being done at the non-profit and association advocacy level.
States remain focused on creating and maintaining opportunities for small business. They are also beginning to better understand growing areas of concern for many businesses including social compliance and economic opportunity.
It is important to remember that work is being done at the state level on behalf of the promotional products industry. PPAI has continued to meet state outreach goals through its L.E.A.D. Local events, which introduce industry leaders to state officials to discuss the power of the industry.
It is up to the industry, not just the Association, to ensure that state advocacy continues. PPAI has several resources that can be used at the state level including the Industry Legislative Agenda and industry position statements. These items are available at www.ppailaw.org. PPAI encourages industry members to take action by following the link below to send a letter about the value of our industry to your state officials.
L.E.A.D. Local California
This week PPAI joined four industry leaders in Sacramento, California for the fourth L.E.A.D. Local event. Prior L.E.A.D. Local events have been held in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas.
PPAI staff Anne Stone, Director of Public Affairs and Seth Barnett, Government Relations Manager, joined Harris Cohen, MAS and Neil Levitt of Southern California and Jon Henrickson and Stacy Weiss of Northern California to conduct nearly 20 key legislative meetings. The group discussed the value of the promotional products industry to the California economy and the effectiveness of the medium. Their message was amplified by the statewide virtual fly in effort that gave those in the industry not in attendance the opportunity to have their voice heard by state officials.
This event was successful thanks to PPAI’s collaboration with the Specialty Advertising Association of California and the Promotional Marketing Association of Northern California to create a wider reach and a more significant industry impact. PPAI will continue to collaborate with all regional associations in order to deliver this event year over year.
The Looming Debt Limit, Again
In July the Treasury Department notified lawmakers that they only have until the end of October to raise the debt limit or face another crippling government shutdown. While Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has insisted that they cannot target a specific date on which the debt limit will be reached, he has said with certainty that it will be before the end of the first session. In March the Treasury Department took measures to ensure that the government would not meet the fast-approaching limit. However, this early movement created less opportunity for financial adjustment as the new limit nears.
Congress has started to develop a plan to avoid a government shutdown. This would help avoid a repeat of the 2013, when a shutdown lasted for 16 days. Lawmakers will face many financial debates upon their return to the Hill in September. They are still looking for a long-term plan for highway spending, and they will need to address tax provisions and debate the Export-Import Bank charter.
While there remains some debate over the actual date of the approaching debt limit, Congress must work to create an effective plan to avoid overspending as part of their first priorities after the August recess concludes.
To learn more about PPAI’s legislative efforts, visit http://www.ppailaw.org.