If you haven’t spent a day on Capitol Hill, I would highly recommend it. I think everyone should experience “the method to the madness”. As you can imagine, there are a lot of moving pieces contributing to a hub of nonstop activity. Being part of the process gave me a new perspective and reinforced the importance of ongoing, consistent communication to inform and positively influence federal policymakers who set the legislative and regulatory framework for the industry. The ELFA does a great job of constantly working those inroads, but once year, members that make up our industry get a chance to be heard from as a united front at the Capital Connections program.
Here are some of the takeaways I left Washington, D.C. with:
- They say it’s the people’s government, and you get the sense of that when you spend the day meeting with these elected officials. The congressmen and senators we met with were genuinely interested in hearing about the issues our industry faces, as well as with the areas we identified that can be improved. Some of the policies the officials have to review can be hundreds of pages long. For that reason, they like to hear from industry representatives on what they believe are the key and impactful points. The Administration officials expect you to be knowledgeable about your topics, and they make a record of the points discussed.
- Education is key. Events like this are also a great opportunity to further educate representatives. An elected official’s day is usually booked top-to-bottom. Bringing our industry’s issues front and center when given the opportunity through personal meetings can help ensure the proper topics are being discussed (remember, some of the documents that get reviewed by representatives and their support staff can be hundreds of pages in length). This is also why it’s important to have ongoing dialogue with the Administration. Not every policy comes up for vote every year; it’s important to keep the dialogue ongoing and relevant.
- There’s also a lot that can be done outside of an annual event like this. We recently hosted Rep. Brad Ashford, D-Neb., in our Omaha office and discussed what we do at LeaseTeam, how our industry impacts local economies and the national economy alike, and some of the challenges the industry faces. Rep. Ashford also participated in a general Q&A session with our employees. It was a great way to inform our local representative about the equipment finance industry and why it matters. Being proactive and reaching out to your local representative on issues is a great way to support the Association’s work and the interest of the equipment finance industry.
- Support the ELFA. We all need to take an active role in helping shape our industry. The best way to do that is to be informed and the ELFA provides several opportunities to be connected to the industry and to be involved as little or as much as you’d like (you can learn more here: ELFA Advocacy).