There are more than 950 lobbyists registered for Georgia, representing more than 3,900 groups. On any given day there are hundreds of more people at the state Capitol acting (but not registered) as lobbyists pursuing specific interests. Credit unions are just one fish in a vast sea at the Capitol advocating for what is best for the industry, and there are countless negative situations that arise every day – and a typical call to action that works in Congress has the reverse effect in the state. It’s very much a nuanced game of chess where there are consequences for every move, every ask, and “Political Capital” is a real thing. When you’ve burned it, it’s gone.
So, what can one do to help? Here are three easy things:
- Reach out to Legislators: Do your state representatives and senators know you and your credit union? These legislators have connections with local business leaders in their district; make it a point to be one of the ones they know. You can start easily by just sending them a note thanking them for their time in this session … trust us, it was a tough one regardless of the party they belong to. And these relationships created at the state level matter on the federal level, as more than half of the Georgia Congressional delegation were previous state legislators.
- Participate in the Local Hikes: Each year GCUA coordinates various meetings with up-and-coming legislators to get to know them ahead of time and start formulating a relationship. They are easy meetings, often scheduled around a lunch. And while more social in nature, the time spent is VALUABLE. It’s easy to say no to one of these, but try to say yes, as legislators move up the ranks often quicker than one would expect. Credit unions met and created relationships with the now Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton), Senate Caucus Leader John Kennedy (R-Macon), House Majority Caucus Vice Chairman Micah Gravley (R-Douglasville), and House Majority Whip Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown) all in their early years at the Capitol before they rose to their positions. Our thanks to Delta Community CU, Combined Employees CU, Coosa Valley CU, Georgia’s Own CU, Hallco Community CU, MembersFirst CU and Robins Financial CU for being engaged in these local hikes years ago.
- Share Information with Your Team and Board: Advocacy is often the type of thing easy to put on the back burner when there is a conversion, staff changes, exams, a new product, or, heck, anything! But advocacy is the lifeblood of what you do every day. Without strong advocacy, credit unions would not exist, but it can be a challenge to engage. A way to make getting involved easier is to share the information with your team and board. This can be as simple as adding this Creating Influence newsletter to an employee portal to keep them in the loop, including the normal legislative overviews with board materials; invite GCUA to speak at staff or even chapter meetings for a rundown of activity, or use one of the pre-made articles found on the Creating Influence website to expand member awareness of why their credit union is involved. Special thank you to BOND Community FCU for utilizing one of these in their upcoming member newsletter!