Magazine article Journal of Property Management

New Approaches to Advocacy

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

New Approaches to Advocacy

Article excerpt

Just as 2017 was a year of change for federal, state and local governments, IREM's government affairs program underwent a number of changes as well.

One of the most anticipated changes was the debut of the IREM Congressional In-District program. With the spring conference shifting to a regional format, IREM's federal advocacy was also set to take a more local approach. Rather than meeting with federal legislators in Washington, D.C., IREM Members scheduled appointments in local offices.

Holding meetings locally increased accessibility by reducing the cost of participation. According to Idaho Snake River Chapter No. 107 Legislative Chair, Mindy Gronbeck, CPM:

MEETING WITH MY CONGRESSMAN IN-DISTRICT PROVIDED MORE TIME TO SPEND WITH HIM AND EDUCATE HIM ON THE ISSUES. IT WAS EVEN BETTER THAT I GOT TO TAKE OTHER EXECUTIVES IN MY ORGANIZATION THAT WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO ATTEND IF IT WAS IN D.C.

THE IREM CONGRESSIONAL IN-DISTRICT PROGRAM

Beginning in April, real estate managers across the country met with their members of Congress and their staffs to discuss the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620) and retention of the 1031 like-kind exchange. Members participating in the meetings reported many positive experiences. One of the most common sentiments shared was that the meetings were very fruitful. With fewer interruptions and less noise to fight through, they were typically longer and more detailed, with legislators seeming more at ease and attentive than on Capitol Hill.

While the vast majority of experiences were positive, initial feedback suggested some challenges too. As a result of the uptick in town hall protests and similar activity witnessed this year, some legislators have been cautious about encounters with constituent groups, reducing opportunities for meetings.

Fortunately, there are other ways to engage with Members of Congress. In addition to the traditional meeting in the district office, some found it productive to invite their legislators to speak at chapter events.

For example, Central Virginia Chapter No. 38 hosted such an event in August. One of the organizers, Carrie Woodring, CPM, said of the event:

OUR MEMBERS TALKED ABOUT IT FOR MONTHS. EVERYONE AGREED THIS NEEDED TO BE AN ANNUAL EVENT. THIS YEAR THE PANEL DISCUSSION INCLUDED CONGRESSMAN (DAVE) BRAT, VIRGINIA'S SECRETARY OF COMMERCE AND TRADE, TODD HAYMORE; FEDERAL RESERVE SENIOR ECONOMIST, RAY OWENS; AND NAR DIRECTOR OF QUANTITATIVE & COMMERCIAL RESEARCH, GEORGE RATIU. IN JUST TWO YEARS, THIS EVENT HAS OUTGROWN OUR VENUE, EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS AND IS SOMETHING OUR MEMBERSHIP, AND COMMUNITY, LOOK FORWARD TO EACH YEAR.

Although the IREM Congressional In-District program kicked off in April, members are encouraged to schedule meetings anytime their legislators are available.

YEAR-ROUND ADVOCACY

The IREM Congressional In-District Visit program may be one of the most visible aspects of IREM's advocacy, but it is far from being the only one. Staff and volunteers are advocating for the Institute's positions, both directly and indirectly, year-round.

One way to do this is through "call to action" campaigns using IREM's online grassroots platform, which launched late last year. With this tool, IREM is able to help members contact their elected officials at the federal, state and local levels with only a few clicks of a mouse or taps on their phones. …

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