NWPVA'S GOVERNMENT RELATIONS PROGRAM
Government Relations is the process of influencing public and government policy at all levels: federal, state, and local. Lobbying is an act of the process that involves the advocacy for an interest that is affected, actually or potentially, by the decisions of government leaders. Individuals and interest groups alike can lobby governments, and governments can even lobby each other. The practice of lobbying is considered so essential to the proper functioning of the U.S. government that it is specifically protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as follows: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging ... the right of the people peaceably ... to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
The practice of lobbying provides a forum for the resolution of conflicts among often diverse and competing points of view; provides information, analysis, and opinion to legislators and government leaders to allow for informed and balanced decision making; and creates a system of checks and balances that allows for competition among interest groups, thus keeping any one group from attaining a permanent position of power. Lobbyists can help the legislative process work more effectively by providing lawmakers with reliable data and accurate assessments of a bill's effect.
The role our volunteer lobbyists play in the legislative arena can be compared to that of lawyers in the judicial arena. Just as lawyers provide the trier of fact (judge or jury) with points of view on the legal issues pertaining to a case, so do so do lobbyists provide local, state, and federal policymakers with points of view on public policy issues.
Although lobbying as a whole serves as a checks-and-balances safeguard on the legislative process, individual lobbyists are not necessarily equal. Unlike voters, who each get one vote, lobbyists vary in their degree of influence. Lobbyists who visit with congressional staff members rather than members of Congress themselves are not considered lobbyists. In addition, the act of lobbying covers only attempts to influence the passage or defeat of legislation in Congress and excludes other congressional activities.
LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR DUTIES
A TEAM APPROACH
By Mike Partridge
- During the legislative session, our Executive Director, President or Legislative Director (The Team) will be on the hill monitoring or testifying on proposed legislation;
- The Team is responsible for monitoring federal and state legislation that impacts PVA Members;
- The Team Participates in the Veterans Legislative Coalition (VLC). The VLC is made of 25 veteran service organizations. Through the VLC, our chapter brings to the table specific issues that impact our membership. We monitor and initiate, when appropriate, legislation that will impact the veteran, their families and military personnel. We maintain contact with key legislators to remind them of our membership issues. The Legislative Director works with the Greater Northwest Chapter of the MS Society and a group called the NeuroAlliance. Participation in these groups helps to educate other organizations on the particular needs of veterans that have a spinal cord injury or a disease of the nervous system such as MS and ALS;
- The Team monitors federal legislation. At least one of The Team will attend the annual Advocacy/Legislation Seminar and meet with our congressional delegation. During the year all of us will maintain contact with our delegation and staff to brief them on issues that are important to our membership;
- During the Legislative session, at least one of The Team is in Olympia meeting with legislators or testifying on bills.
THE PVA WASHINGTON UPDATE
The Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) publishes a monthy report titled Washington Update that chronicles the progress of its efforts in Washington, DC on behalf of the disabled community. The Update provides a regular review of the activities of the two programs in Government Relations, Advocacy and Legislation, and status reports on a wide variety of veteran and disability issues on Capitol Hill and within other federal departments and agencies.
Recent editions are available by clicking the button below.