Published on December 10, 2012
“Working Effectively with Legislative Staff” by Stephen Hogge Stephen Hogge Consulting www.stephenhogge.netPresentation to the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists @Florida Association of Realtors November 20, 2012
Why is a Good Working Relationship So Important?Having a good, solid working relationship is critical—your relationship can make or breakyou• Staff are key players; they are the most trusted and relied upon source for information and analysis on legislation• Staff are about the only things that’s relatively permanent• Staff evaluates your legislation and drafts amendments• Staff sets agendas, manages the calendar, controls access to legislators, often gets the last word• Staff are the gateway to committee chairs, members and other staff• Staff can go places you may not be able to when some urgency arises• They can help you avoid land mines• Staff are an information railroad leading to all points• It’s the professional thing to do, regardless of their critical role This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 2
Types of Staff• Senate vs. House• Substantive vs. Fiscal• Committee vs. Personal• Leadership vs. Committee• Partisan• Operational• OPPAGA vs. House/Senate This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 3
Role of Operational StaffSergeant for House & Senate• Handles security, logistics, duplicating, maintenance, and physical plant, including committee rooms.Clerk/Secretary• Publishes the calendars and journals, with whom bills and floor amendments are filed, preside over floor sessions. This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 4
Role of Personal Staff (Legislatives Aides and Assistants for Members)• Roles vary from one extreme to the other• Keep their member’s calendar• Meet with lobbyists/intermediary or “go-between”• Make sure their member is in right place at right time• Keep the member focused and organized• Make sure member’s bills and amendments are timely filed• Coordinate with committee staff as necessary• Research policy and constituent issues• Keep their member connected to the folks back home• In some cases, present their member’s bills in committee This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 5
Role of Leadership Staff (Speaker’s & President’s Office)• Provide policy advice and counsel to the presiding officers• Serve as a liaison between the Speaker/President and Committee Chairs and other members• Oversee the work of the committees/staff directors• Develop proposals and options to implement the broad policy objectives of leadership• Develop strategies for moving priority legislation through committees• Recommend committee references and approve agendas This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 6
Role of Committee Staff (Staff Directors, Analysts, Attys, CAAs)• Staff for the committee chair and committee members• Difficult tightrope to walk/Chair vs. Speaker vs. Members• Nonpartisan/no personal beliefs• Vary by position/but all play vital role• Staff Director—overall staff leader; assigns bills to staff; reviews all staff analyses; meets with chair to discuss bills; makes recommendations re bills and agenda• Analyst/Attorney—prepares bills and staff analyses, first line of contact, most knowledgeable on issue• Committee AA—Key operational player; can be MVP This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 7
Keys to Working Effectively With Committee Staff• Understand their world• Be honest and instill trust• Mind your manners• Know the process• Appreciate youth• Engage early and often• Be seen as a resource, not a burden• Be “solution-oriented” and flexible• Be credible This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 8
The World of Committee Staff• People coming at you from all sides• Juggling a multitude of personalities and issues; yours is just one issue of many• Functioning under intense time pressures• Trying to process reams of information and become an expert in a matter of hours• Being judged by all sides and often scapegoated• Researching and analyzing issues often with no subject matter knowledge• Meeting with members, other staff, lobbyists• Setting agendas, managing calendars and access This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 9
Be Honest and Instill Trust• DO NOT LIE!• Be reliable; keep your word• Don’t throw staff under the bus• One-sided position papers and testimony can hurt your credibility• Don’t overstate legislator’s intentions This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 10
Mind Your Manners• Respect the personal work space of staff• NEVER threaten staff or publicly criticize• Be patient and considerate; respect and dignity• Observe committee’s operational protocols• Avoid gossip• Don’t be overly social• Don’t hold grudges• Avoid drop-bys on issues that are not time-critical This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 11
Know the Process• Take the time to learn the fundamentals• Know how a bill becomes a law• Be familiar with House/Senate procedural rules• Drafting bills and amendments• Know the various types of legislation (special act, general law, committee bill)• Know the key terms and acronyms (PCB, CS, enrolled vs. engrossed) This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 12
Appreciate Youth*• You may be surprised to find that Legislature has many relatively young staffers• Be tuned in to the various mediums in which young staffers may communicate (especially through social media)• Don’t act like a dinosaur• Be patient; don’t act like you’re the repository of all wisdom because you have years of experience *Phraseology used in numerous online sources without attribution such as www.stroke.org, speakout.com, and www.aallnet.org. This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 13
Engage Early and Often• Don’t wait until the last minute• Meet with staff in advance (even before bill filed)• Avoid last minute surprises or requests• Follow up after meeting; don’t just disappear• Be responsive, not demanding• Communicate throughout the year, not just during Session, knowing their favorite way to communicate (e.g., phone, visit, email, text)• Don’t monopolize staff time; keeping meetings purposeful and timely will increase access This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 14
Be Seen as a Resource, not a Burden• Be substantive, not superficial• Know your issue, know all sides, be prepared• Share helpful information• Don’t rely on politics to carry you through• Be flexible in resolving an issue• Remember staff doesn’t work for you• Be accessible• Be an informational resource• Don’t be so quick to blame staff This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 15
Be “Solution-oriented” and Flexible*• Come with solutions• Be open to alternative ways to address your client’s issue (e.g., meeting with agency, letter)• Appreciate and respect the parameters within which staff may be working to resolve your issue This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 16 *See Rick Hess Staright Up, “Some Tips on Working with Legislators,” July 6, 2011.
Be Credible• Credibility goes a long way with staff• Establish it by doing the things we’ve discussed This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 17
Conclusion• A solid working relationship with staff is a key to success; make it a priority This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 18
Stephen HoggeA member of the Florida Bar, Stephen Hogge has over 20 years of senior-level legislativemanagement and association lobbying experience in Florida. While with the FloridaHouse of Representatives, Stephen served as a senior staff director for nine differentcommittees and an attorney/analyst for two others, a policy advisor to a House Speaker,and Director of the House Policy Council. He staffed many of the most politicallycharged and complex policy issues in Florida. Stephen also has years of experience onthe other side of the table, as Director of Government Relations and lobbyist for theFlorida Association of Counties and, most recently, as owner of Stephen HoggeConsulting, a public affairs and government relations firm. ***** Stephen Hogge Stephen Hogge Consulting 117 South Gadsden Street Tallahassee, FL 32301 850.459.3029 www.stephenhogge.net This document may be reproduced only with permission of Stephen Hogge Consulting. 19
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