Magazine article Business Credit

Lobbying on the Hill: The Art of Influencing Legislation

Magazine article Business Credit

Lobbying on the Hill: The Art of Influencing Legislation

Article excerpt

Those who work on the Hill will quickly testify that there is nothing quite like the aura of power that prevails. It is an atmosphere heady with pending anticipation. Ask Jim Wise and he will verify that the fast-paced life of political wheeling and dealing on the Hill is truly addictive. Acting as NACM's official lobbyist since 1988,Jim has worked hand-in-hand with the Government Affairs Committee to represent and promote NACM's interests on Capitol Hill. A well known and highly respected professional lobbyist, he has set an impressive track record with NACM.

Jim explained, "Some of our best efforts in the past few years include the provisions that NACM suggested in the last Bankruptcy Bill that are currently part of the Code; the role NACM played in improving payment practices for contractors and subcontractors in the Miller Act; NACM's participation in getting the Federal Prompt Pay Coalition Bill passed; and their meeting with the Federal Reserve Board, before the Fed put the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) into law, to explain the differences between consumer and commercial businesses and how the role of unsecured trade creditors is different from that of consumers and therefore should be treated differently."

According to Jim, there are basically two types of lobbyists: in-house and contract. The in-house lobbyist focuses specifically on the issues of concern for the particular organization, understanding in-depth the complexities and details of all the issues. The contract lobbyist, on the other hand, brings a much broader perspective to how specific issues interrelate with other issues, and how they fit into the overall Congressional agenda. Most organizations have at least one contract lobbyist in their employ to bring this broader perspective to their issues.

"One of the primary roles of the lobbyist is that of an information broker," Jim noted. "I continuously educate Congressional members and staffers on the Hill about the critical role the unsecured trade credit industry plays in the transaction of business, not only in the United States but worldwide." Reporting directly to the Government Affairs Committee, he keeps them abreast of current issues that concern NACM. During periods of intense legislative activity, he frequently communicates with the Chair of that committee three to four times a day. Utilizing an extensive professional network developed over years of working on the Hill, Jim is able to contact those people who are knowledgeable of the details and ramifications of particular issues and laws that are under consideration. "Knowing the right shoulder to tap to get the right information or the right ear to whisper in is an incredible asset."

Jim is a key figure at the NACM Legislative Conference each year. Not only does he meet with the various members to discuss current lobbying issues, but he also takes time to teach a session that he fondly refers to as "Lobbying 101 "to those who have never been on the Hill. "There are certain protocols that need to be followed that Affiliate members should be aware of in advance," Jim explained. "This is their opportunity to explain in person to their Congressional representatives business credit's position on various issues. The purpose of such a visit, of course, is not only to present their case, but to ask in specific terms for the Member to commit to their objectives. It is important for legislators to understand that commercial business is very different from consumer business, and that the laws often do not take into consideration commercial credit needs."

Preparing policy issue briefs on current business credit issues is another responsibility he has as NACM's lobbyist. "It is very prudent to be straightforward, frank and explicit when meeting with the Congressional Member or the staff person. Remember that Members of Congress have different views, so Affiliate members should plan to meet with a Member who can appreciate the bill they would like passed. …

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