Lobbying 101

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Lobbying 101 What is Lobbying? Lobbying, quite simply, is:

-noun 1.an entrance hall, corridor, or vestibule, as in a public building, often serving as an anteroom; foyer. 2.a large public room or hall adjacent to a legislative chamber. 3.a group of persons who work or conduct a campaign to influence members of a legislature to vote according to the group’s special interest. -verb (used without object) 4.to solicit or try to influence the votes of members of a legislative body. -verb (used with object) 5.to try to influence the actions of (public officials, esp. legislators). 6.to urge or procure the passage of (a bill), by lobbying.

Many people with whom I correspond on forums and message boards profess to hate lobbyists and “special interests” and their influence in state and national government. However, anyone who has signed a petition, been involved in a demonstration, paid union dues, or written a letter to a legislator has been involved in lobbying. Like it or not.

Legislators are incredibly busy people. And, as a result many do not get the chance to hear what the people want from their government. That’s where the lobbyist comes in. His job is to get the client’s message across. If the client has a bill he or she wants to get passed into law, it is the lobbyist’s job to explain the benefits of the bill to the legislators, find an author for the bill, ask for each legislator’s support, and babysit the bill through the legislative process.

Contrary to popular belief, lobbyists as a whole are not shady, evil individuals. Yes, there are some who are entirely unethical and give the rest a bad name, but, for the most part, lobbyists are doing a job. In Oklahoma, where I live, the state Ethics Commission has strict rules for what a lobbyist can and cannot do. Woe to the lobbyist who does not abide by those rules.

Lobbying is a vital part of the legislative process. It allows legislators to make more educated decisions before voting on issues that will affect YOU!

For more information, or if you just have questions, please feel free to visit my website at S.E.G. Group, LLC and use the contact area.

To be continued……

Shawn Garza is president of S.E.G. Group, LLC, a lobbying and legislative consulting firm in Oklahoma City, OK.

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