As NATSO members, we are all aware of how important it is that we make our voices heard, both collectively and individually. In May, many of us will take our message to Capitol Hill to share our first-hand insight into the issues that matter the most to the truckstop and travel plaza industry. Visiting Washington, D.C., as part of NATSO’s Day on the Hill is a powerful experience, but our connections with elected officials on the local, state and federal level are something we can foster year round.
It is so important for us to make contact with those who represent us, and it is never too early or too late to reach out to them. The benefit of getting to know our lawmakers and their staff and reaching out to them on a regular basis is that they will be familiar with us when there is a call to action and we need their support.
I recently had the opportunity to testify in front of a state committee on a legislative bill. During that experience, it became very evident that the difference between a lobbyist and constituent is very, very powerful to legislators. The lobbyists come through on a regular basis but the constituents are the ones lawmakers need to hear from, and they so dearly need to hear from us. They need to know how things work in the real world.
In the absence of our communication, they are left to make their decisions without a full understanding of the issue. Often times, constituents remaining silent only leaves the voices of lobbyists and their interpretations of the issues. Many times, those people don’t have our best interest at heart. We must lead the charge.
Now more than ever our voices need to be heard. Not only is there a lot going on in our nation’s capitol, but it is likely that more things are going to be governed by executive orders and regulatory bodies, such as the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.
So, I encourage you to make calls, send emails and reach out to the key decision makers, whether they are in your neighborhood or in Washington, D.C. It is easier than you think, especially if you join with NATSO. I can speak from experience.
The first time I attended the Day on the Hill event, I didn’t know what to expect. I was intimidated by the potential of sitting down and talking with a lawmaker or a chief of staff, but NATSO made it so simple to go. They prepared all of us there to communicate effectively with a Congressman, Senator or a staff person. They do an outstanding job of briefing you on the issues and providing the talking points. After it was over, I realized it was an amazing experience I’d missed out on for years.
If you need help getting started, connect with NATSO and they can provide guidance and talking points on our most important issues. You have so much to gain and nothing to lose.
Photo credit: Carol Jean Stalun
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