insight magazine

Capitol Report

We Need YOU!

Here’s why you should be part of the Government Relations Office’s grassroots Legislative Contact Program.
Marty Green, Esq. ICPAS VP of Government Relations

It’s no secret that Illinois faces many challenges with the ongoing budget deadlock. Sooner or later, legislators are going to have to make some very difficult decisions that may impact the CPA profession.

Already at the beginning of the Spring Session, the Illinois CPA Society’s Government Relations Office is fighting legislation that would require local government audits to be competitively bid. Another significant challenge we’re watching closely is a tax on professional services.

When it comes to successful political advocacy, particularly for passing or preventing legislation, a grassroots approach is always best. The Illinois CPA Society has an impressive track record, and much of that success is due to our Legislative Contact Program.

The Legislative Contact Program is a grassroots network of CPAs who are aligned with Illinois Congressional Delegation and Illinois General Assembly members. Why is it effective? Because your experience, skills and expertise as CPAs are well recognized, which means your conversations and calls to legislators on public policy matters have an impact.

The Illinois CPA Society is always looking for members to join this grassroots network. It’s a bonus (although certainly not necessary) for members to have established relationships with legislators, whether formal or informal. To illustrate, I recently met with Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-23, Riverside) to discuss the Society tax preparer oversight legislation. At the end of our meeting, Rep. Zalewski said, “I know your (former) Board Chairman Ed Hannon. I ride the train to work with him every day.” Relationships such as these are invaluable and provide direct access to legislators when needed.

Being a legislative contact isn’t time consuming. We only contact you when necessary because of a pending legislative issue that may impact the CPA profession. It works like this: Contacts receive a legislative alert from the Government Relations office, asking that they contact their legislator. The legislative alert includes a synopsis of the substantive issue, a link to the pending legislation, and general guidance on the message to deliver. We typically ask our grassroots cadre to call the legislator’s Springfield office and express support for or opposition to the legislation in question. Depending on the contact’s relationship with their legislator, we may ask them to have a more strategic conversation about the legislation and the Society’s position.

Conversely, there are occasions when a legislator reaches out to his or her legislative contact to ask questions about a bill or public policy issue. The Government Relations office also informs legislative contacts of Society events that legislators may be attending and encourages them to also attend.

As your lobbyist, I am always impressed when I talk to a legislator and they say, “I’ve already talked to my CPA and they explained the importance of the bill,” or “I know why you are here.” The significant impact of these relationships is always evident and cannot be underestimated.

We certainly hope you’ll consider joining the Illinois CPA Society’s Legislative Advocacy Program. Get further info call Jill Loeser at 800.572.9870.

It has always been an honor to represent the CPA profession in the State House, and I look forward to working with you in the future.