Working with Legislative Committees

Today’s post is a continuation of our Rules for Effective Lobbying conversations. Today’s talk between Ray LeBov and Chris Micheli focuses in on the advice they have for lobbyists when it comes to working with committees and committee staff in the California Legislature.

The first step to being successful in working with committees is – like it is in many other aspects of legislative and regulatory advocacy – building good working relationships with the committee staff. This goes beyond just building good relationships with committee consultants, and into building good relationships with the committee secretaries in the Assembly and committee assistants in the Senate.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the work you do that is going to affect your success working in committee is done long before the committee hearing. Testimony at the hearing and other things that occur at the hearing really don’t change many votes. The work done with committee consultants and the minority part consultant to that committee is what will truly affect the outcome.

Also remember that on top of the Joint Rules and the standing rules for either House, that each committee also its own rules. To give one example, every committee has a rule about many days in advance of a hearing you have to submit your letter for it to be included in the analysis under support and opposition. For some committees, it’s a twelve day rule. Now, if you’ve built a good relationship with committee staff, if you’re a few days late, you might be able to go to them and ask them to list the letter, and they will do you that favor. In that situation remember that the twelve day rule applies to you, not them.

On the topic of letters, there may be times when committee staff asks you to submit a letter. A good rule to adhere to is that if honoring that request can in no possible way do harm to your client, always, 100% of the time, honor that request. The good will it can build up is invaluable. That said, never cross the line and agree to a request that could harm your client in any way.