More Legislation, Or Just More
Why So Much?
by Belinda Judson
Executive Director, Mid-States NATO
In many of these columns and in my
state legislative summary report, I have relayed some
of the varied state and local
legislative activities. I have reported on how we fared
with several pieces of legislation and why, with your help,
we have generally done so well. I have also noted that
the legislative concerns have become a more time-consuming
and very important (actually in all likelihood the most
important) part of what the state/regional unit representatives
do on your behalf. After seeing all of this, many of you
have expressed some curiosity and concern as to why there
is such a marked increase in legislative activity on the
state and local level.
One reason we have seen a shift in
recent years is the federal government’s involvement has changed somewhat.
Many of the issues that were once handled on the federal
level have been “passed down” to the state
and local levels.
Often times state governments are
also not waiting for the feds to make decisions on issues
such as increasing
the minimum wage, family leave, ratings enforcement,
obscenity standards, etc. We see many of these same
issues crop up
on municipal agendas as well.
Unfortunately, too, we are always
a “sexy” industry
for lawmakers to address. Legislators know that by
commenting on or proposing legislation regarding issues
such as ratings
enforcement, obscenity, etc. they will get headlines.
This is appealing especially during election years when
most important to them to get their names out in
front of their constituents.
Most notably in the last couple of
years we have seen a rise in budget-related legislation
economy. On both the state and local levels, deficits
9/11, the cities also have been faced with the
extra economic burden of putting security and first-response
Lawmakers are desperately searching
for ways to line the coffers. Thus we have been faced
for new and increased taxes on everything including
ticket sales, concessions, food licenses, etc.
So what does this mean going forward?
As you are aware, while we had a great deal of success
issues will resurface next year and thereafter.
The same can be
said for proposed legislation on the federal
level. It will be necessary to continue to
our industry and our position vis-à-vis proposed
legislation at all governmental levels. While NATO and
many of the states retain lobbyists to watchdog the issues, “grassroots” lobbying
is one of the most effective ways (if not the
most effective way) to get the attention of
federal, state or local legislators.
This means that it is extremely important
to have not only a strong NATO for addressing
a vital, active state/regional unit to coordinate
for covering state and local concerns. That
cannot happen without your support – via your membership and active
participation in both organizations.