Archive for the ‘State Politics’ Category


June 12, 2014

By Steve Arthur, Vice President

parachute_hit_target_400_clr_14044My recent trip to the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Summer Meeting reminded me that state government relations professionals deal not only with weighty public policy issues, but also with the choices we make about whether to attend a conference and how we get there.

We sometimes do take for granted the nice places we enjoy while attending Groups meetings. However, for anyone who has ever attended a meeting on Mackinac Island, Michigan you know that getting there can be a challenge even when everything goes well. And last week, everything did not go well getting to the NAAG Summer Meeting.

My day began with a 3:00 AM wake-up call to be on the road from Santa Fe to Albuquerque at 4:00 for the 6:00 AM flight to Minneapolis to catch the flight to Detroit to catch the flight to Pellston, Michigan to catch the bus to the dock to catch the ferry to island to get on the horse drawn taxi to the hotel. Just in time for a 7:30 dinner. At least that was the plan.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas. Due to severe weather, the Detroit to Pellston flight was cancelled, and some on the flight were told the first available seat would be two days later. In fact some meeting attendees seriously considered asking the airline to simply fly them back home. To their credit, NAAG staff quickly arranged a charter bus to make sure the Attorneys General, staff and the rest of us could arrive in time for the next day’s opening session.

So a 45 minute flight became a 360 minute bus ride after a two hour delay in leaving Detroit. That 7:30 dinner became an order of chicken fingers at the airport and a refreshment stop at a grocery store in Flint. Of course, the bus can only take you so far when your final destination is an ISLAND. Again, NAAG staff came through with a chartered ferry 5 hours later than the last regularly scheduled ferry.

Once the meeting started the next day, a couple of things became clear. First, while the number of Attorneys General and staff were down from previous meetings, over 30 states were still represented. The big change was the number of private sector attendees, which was well below normal. This made it much easier for those of us who were there to talk with everyone we needed to for business, and also allowed more casual discussions at the social events.

Second, the bus trip became the talk of the conference. While it was definitely not the best of travel days, it was a bit of a bonding experience for those on the bus, and it will likely be mentioned at future NAAG meetings for years to come. And this brings me to my point about how travel can impact our jobs. We all know that building relationships is an important aspect of our profession and when you spend six hours with people on an unscheduled bus ride, that can definitely be a long term relationship builder. We might even start a Facebook page.

The second, and just as important, lesson from this trip is to always attend the meetings that may be difficult to get to because your competitors might not be there. You persevered – they did not – you win. Imagine how you would feel if your competitor followed this advice and you did not?

State government relations is comprised of so many elements from Legislative Monitoring to Strategic Planning, Groups issue management and Lobbying. Until this meeting, I did not fully appreciate the value of the shared travel nightmare for building relationships.


Steve Arthur is Vice President and brings more than 20 years of public policy experience in both the public and private sector to his work at Stateside Associates. Mr. Arthur provides clients with hands on state government relations support from strategic planning and issue management to lobbyist management and direct lobbying. He is one of the leaders of Stateside’s Attorneys General practice, guiding clients through the process of working with, and lobbying, state Attorneys General.

Regulation Déjà Vu

June 5, 2014

By John Howell, Esq., Vice President

SRegulatory Activity Overloadummer is approaching and state legislative sessions are winding down. But, for those who focus on state regulations, the “high season” is still very much underway. And, it all has to do with state elections.

With 36 gubernatorial elections in November, along with high profile issues such as hydraulic fracturing, health care, network neutrality, privacy of information, and a myriad of environmental issues dotting the regulatory landscape, the second half of 2014 is shaping up to be a heavy period of regulatory activity.

We often observe a spike in regulatory activity following legislative sessions. The reasons run the gamut from implementing rules in response to the passage of new laws to more strategic reasons such as regulatory agencies’ desire to maintain independence and authority in the absence of legislative scrutiny. Regardless of the reason, there is no “summer lull” in state regulatory activity. In fact, we are again seeing a sizable uptick in activity through our Regulatory Forecasting and RegulationALERT services and that is in keeping with the historical trend for a midterm election year.

Using a constant issue set as the basis, here is what we have observed:

In 2009, the year preceding the last midterm election, our regulatory services team observed a 27% spike in the regulatory activity between the first half of the year against the second half. In the first half of 2009, our team monitored 738 new proposed regulations while in the second half of 2009 that number jumped to 928 for a total of 1666 first published regulations followed in 2009.

The spike in new regulatory activity continued into 2010 as we monitored over 3,100 new proposed regulations, an increase of nearly 100% against 2009.

Following the elections in 2010, the rate of regulatory activity continued to be strong. Over 1,120 new regulations were first published in the year after which the activity leveled off towards the latter half of 2011 through the first half of 2013.

Now, four years later with another midterm election on the horizon, our regulatory team witnessed a 44% increase in regulatory monitoring activity in the second half of 2013. In the first half of 2013 we monitored 679 new proposed regulations while in the second half of 2013 the number increased to 976 regulations.

In 2014, we are again witnessing close to a 100% spike in activity as compared to the same period in 2013. In this midterm election year, there have been over 1,200 new proposed regulations so far.

As Yogi Berra said so famously, “it’s déjà vu all over again”.

Adding dimension to the impact midterm elections have on regulatory activity will be the results themselves – particularly at the gubernatorial level. Past elections have demonstrated that the re-election of an incumbent governor, regardless of party, often leads to an additional spike in regulatory activity immediately following the election that carries through into the following year.

Conversely, newly elected governors, regardless of party, tend to move in a more deliberate fashion. Administrative priorities involved with taking office as well as the need to establish goals, objectives and new regulatory priorities are the likely driving factors. Therein lies the challenge as new priorities also generate new issues and concerns for those who monitor regulatory activity ranging from having to gain additional subject matter expertise to establishing new relationships with staff.

If 2010 was any lesson to us, we are staring at a sustained period of increased regulatory activity which could last through the first half of 2015.

Exciting times, indeed.


John Howell is Vice President of Regulatory Services at Stateside Associates. With substantial policy and legal experience, Mr. Howell guides Stateside Associates’ regulatory counsel and provides clients with hands on Regulatory Issue Management support from strategic planning, regulatory advocacy, and working with groups of state and local officials.

Failed Upon Adjournment

May 20, 2014

By Constance Campanella, President and CEO

canstockphoto6453644Are there three more beautiful words to a state government relations professional? Maybe there are, but for business reasons, this triplet means the danger has passed.

Or, has it?

Legislative ideas–especially the new, innovative, and crazy–do not find their footing immediately. Ideas take time to break in and to become comfortable or at least acceptable. Rough versions of proposals become polished over time as stakeholders and advocates weigh in. Think about some ‘crazy’ notions that are now law–like bans on incandescent light bulbs, living wages, calorie disclosures at restaurants and state regulation of the Internet.

Consider that the campaigns for ideas have become more sophisticated and more integrated. Advocates open the bidding with a study. A legislator tweets approval and promises action. Fellow legislators join in. Advocates note the “trending” issue as proof the idea is gaining acceptance. The bill is introduced. More tweets and posts herald the initiative and the traditional media provides the column inches necessary to create buzz around the Capitol.

Fortunately for most businesses, the legislative process is still deliberative and new, radical ideas do not immediately find their majority and do fail upon adjournment.

Is that a red light signaling that you can stop and relax? It should not be.

Forward thinking SGR professionals would be well advised to look for these new ideas on the scrap pile and evaluate their potential for future success.

Here is the 5-point test to determine if today’s wacky idea is tomorrow’s public policy:

  1. Consider the source. Is the advocate a well-established NGO with a history of legislative success? If so, plus one point.
  2. Is the legislative sponsor a serious, committed, successful lawmaker? If so, plus one point.
  3. Has the legislature experienced a significant turnover in membership or leadership that now tilts it more towards the philosophy of the proposal? If so, plus one point.
  4. Is social media at-large or among legislators (check that out via TellTale) buzzing about the topic? If so, plus one point.
  5. Has the real media picked up the topic and supported the underpinnings of the proposal? If so, plus one point.

If your evaluation of this failed bill or idea yields four or more points, the chances are very likely that you will see this bill again and you will see this idea again elsewhere.

So, when you get the report that a bill failed upon adjournment, don’t read that as a red light. Read it as a yellow light and go faster to get ahead of the trend.


Constance Campanella is the Founder, President and CEO of Stateside Associates. A veteran of 30 years of state and federal issue management experience, Ms. Campanella managed Stateside’s growth from a one-person firm to what one trade publication has called, “a behemoth in state lobbying.”


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