McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli

An important but often overlooked component of the lobbying profession, even involving bills, is working with relevant state agencies or departments to secure a favorable recommendation on a bill that you’re lobbying either for or against. Administrative agencies, departments, boards, and commissions of state government can often be important players in public policy development both as it relates to pending legislation that’s being considered by the Legislature, and ultimately by the Governor.

Because they’re a part of the executive branch of government, these state agencies are generally directly accountable to the Governor. As a result, they play an important role in advising the Governor and his or her staff on pending measures. As such, those involved in legislative advocacy must engage with these administrative agencies, often early in the legislative process, to ensure that the agencies and departments are aware of your client’s position and their view on particular bills. The recommendations of these state administrative agencies, just like their federal counterparts, carry great weight in the executive branch and ultimately with the Governor and his or her staff when they’re making final decisions on whether to sign or veto these measures.

The Department of Finance makes a recommendation to either sign or veto every bill that reaches the Governor’s desk that has a fiscal impact to the state’s general fund. If it has an adverse impact on the fiscal health of the state, then you can probably expect a veto request by DOF and most often a veto by the Governor if you look at the last few administrations. In other words, regardless of whether the Governor is a Democrat or a Republican, the DOF appears to have tremendous sway over the final outcome of measures.

State agencies, departments, boards, and commissions provide both informal and formal advice on pending legislation. The informal advice can be transmitted to the Governor’s office as simply as with a phone call or an in-person conversation or an email. The formal advice comes in the form of a written analysis of the bill that’s usually accompanied by a recommendation for an official position. It is important for lobbyists to determine what the views of the relevant state agency or department are, and what they are likely to advise the Governor’s staff about a particular bill, early in the legislative process.

You can find a full transcript of today’s podcast here.