With the recent State of the Union, State of the State, County and City, we now know where our elected leaders want to lead us. Each has laid out their vision for where they want us to go. Now it is up to us to help them. Whether we support their agenda or not, we each have a role in seeing our Nation, State, County and City succeed. It will only succeed if we give our opinion, show our support for specific issues or voice our opinions against regulations or legislation should it negatively impact your family, business or industry.

How do you do that?  This morning, I gave a similar presentation to the Michigan Society of Association Executives (MSAE) Association Management Academy at the American Concrete Institute and here is what I told them:

1.Figure out why you to to become more engaged in the political/legislatie process.  Does it fit into your mission or strategic plan? Are your members asking for it? Is your industry affected by legislation?

2. Learn about the legislative process, how the legislature works, How a Bill Becomes a Law (SchoolHouseRock) and what role lobbyists play (ThankYou For Not Smoking) in addition to other outside influences (Distinguished Gentleman).

3. Know the regulations and laws that impact lobbying, advocacy, campaign finance and ethics and why those laws were created in the first place. (Casino Jack)

Some useful resources include: ASAE; Clerk of the U.S. House; Secretary of the Senate; Senate/House Ethics Committee; or, your Secretary of State.
4. Know what your issues are. Begin to create an issues matrix to help identify the issue and prioritize them.
5. Identify the resources you can use to engage lawmakers in a discussion about the issues important to your members, industry
or business.
6. Get to know those whom you elected. You may or may not have voted for them, but they did get elected. So take the time to meet them, learn about them and teach them about the issues you care about.
7. Know what their agenda is. In Michigan, right now the legislative agenda is full of issues involving Jobs, People & Good Government. Knowing what the issues are will help open the door to solid discussions between you and those ultimately deciding on what the laws will be.

8. Become relevant. Knowing the agenda and staying on top of the news cycle will help your issues remain relevant. Provide the local angle to a national problem, take the legislative agenda in Lansing, Columbus or Albany and show others how it will impact you locally.

9. Become an expert. Lawmakers are pulled in too many directions with too little time to fully read and understand the legislative issues they are voting on (for the most part). By knowing the issues.

10. Proactively develop relations with lawmakers and like-minded organizations that can support you and your agenda and likewise you support theirs.

Relationships help empower people to act and it is important to develop those strategic relationships early.  To view the presentation vist: Helping Associations Create Government Relations Program.

*For education purposes only. Please consult an attorney for any legal advice. This post does not create an attorney-client relationship.