This piece was originally published in the April 2016 issue of ei, the magazine of the electroindustry.
By Michael L. Belitzky, Manager, State Government Relations, NEMA
Seasoned government relations professionals are often judged by their connections—not just who they know but also who knows them. Relationships are the cornerstone of influence.
NEMA’s affiliations with external organizations foster and strengthen our relationships with elected officials and policymakers, a process that significantly increases NEMA’s ability to advocate for the best interests of its members.
Since the 1980s, NEMA has developed relationships with congressional leaders, affording it the opportunity to shape and guide policies that impact the nation’s electrical system. Following this success, NEMA has dedicated resources at the state level to implement an education and outreach campaign. Whether fighting to protect a three-year code adoption cycle, fending off undue regulations on button-cell batteries, or promoting the installment of carbon monoxide detection systems, NEMA leverages its resources to achieve a positive outcome. State advocacy represents nearly 45 percent of NEMA’s overall advocacy budget, an investment that is showing positive returns.
Building on its accomplishments with coalitions that promote life safety, energy efficiency, and product stewardship, NEMA has embarked on a mission to educate elected officials and advocate for legislation consistent with its core values by expanding its reach through state-level associations.
For instance, NEMA leveraged its connections with the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee to highlight the industry’s commitment to life safety through the advancement of innovation and technology. Several of these discussions led to meetings between state legislative leaders, NEMA, and member manufacturers of life-safety products.
Along with these affiliations, NEMA focuses its attention on targeted states where legislation is affecting the electroindustry (see “Expanding State-Level Advocacy,” below). For example, on February 25, NEMA conducted an advocacy day in Columbia, South Carolina, which the South Carolina General Assembly recognized as National Electrical Manufacturers Association Advocacy Day.
Executives from ABB Inc., Prysmian Cables and Systems, and Valcom met with legislators and their staffs to promote the electroindustry, touting its impact on the state economy, research and development, technology and innovation, and life safety and routine code adoption. NEMA strategically planned the event to delay proposed legislation that would change South Carolina’s current three-year adoption cycle to a six-year cycle for the International Residential Code and National Electrical Code®.
The event was not only about outreach; it laid the cornerstone of a relationship that promises to strengthen over time. After meeting with members and chairs of the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over building codes, NEMA members invited officials to tour their local facilities.
The salient result was recognition as a partner to be called upon for recommendations and guidance on policy affecting the electroindustry.
Upcoming advocacy days:
- April: Pennsylvania
- May: Florida, Michigan, North Carolina
- June: Indiana, Tennessee