Thursday, February 5, 2009

Know when to shut up

Pardon the blunt nature of that title, but I continue to be amazed at what I see at the Statehouse. So in today's committee meeting, there was a somewhat controversial bill being discussed in committee. I didn't have a dog in the fight, so I was just watching the show. Unfortunately, many of the legislators were not and I didn't blame them. In fact, at one point I turned on the "corners" app for my iphone (that's the little square that bounces around your screen and then you get a point when it hits in the exact corner)...yeah, that boring. So there were a couple of lobbyists who got up to wax eloquently. They weren't doing themselves any favors.

A good lobbyist must know when they need to drive home a point and when they need to gloss over content. Taking it to the heart of the matter, a good lobbyist knows the vote before the Committee even meets. If a lobbyist goes in to committee without knowing the outcome, then they haven't done their job, or it's one of those very rare occasions where it's a tough vote. But even in those tough-vote situations, there is such a thing as overkill.

When there are multiple lobbyists advocating the same position on a bill, the legislators don't enjoy duplicative testimony. I'm a strong believer in brevity. Obviously there are situations where the complexity of a proposal or concept warrants in-depth analysis and discussion, but in most cases, legislators have their minds made up before any testimony occurs. For those situations when they haven't, or it's a close vote, then try and be as brief as possible and summarize your testimony at the end...or don't look out into the audience or at the legislators when they're playing on their computers or cell phones.

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