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Advocacy as a member, business and client benefit

Advocacy

Geno Fragnito, MNCPA director of government relations | May 2020 Footnote

A couple songs come to mind as I reflect on the past few months: Bob Dylan’s milestone song, “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” and R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” lead the list.

As we eventually settle into a new normal, whatever and whenever that may be, one truth remains the same: The MNCPA continues to advocate for you and the issues that are important to the profession, your businesses and your clients. Our efforts at the Capitol continue — just in a different format.

GR efforts for the now

Change and uncertainty have been the name of the game for everyone at the State Capitol, from lawmakers and legislative staff, to registered lobbyists and politically engaged citizens. Votes for emergency legislation have been cast not in the House and Senate chambers, but in nearby offices and even parking garages. Meetings have been limited to only those deemed essential to the discussion; and even then, they’re limited to just three people in a meeting room. Committee hearings are now being held via video conferencing platforms, creating some confusing (and humorous) moments.

The MNCPA has been quick to adapt and navigate through all these changes. We’ve asked the Minnesota Department of Revenue, the Legislature and Gov. Tim Walz to conform to all the filing extensions that were included in the most recent federal guidance. We’ve written a letter to the Minnesota Board of Accountancy to extend the CPE reporting deadlines and testing deadlines for new candidates. I’ve also helped members get connected to virtual committee hearings so they can provide testimony on tax-related issues. You’ve likely been seeing several emails from me with status updates on all these issues we’re working on.

In-person advocacy has traditionally been a great way to help lawmakers better understand the issues important to the CPA profession. Today’s environment has changed everything; however, it’s created new opportunities for the MNCPA and you.

Leveraging your connections

Our advocacy work goes beyond what the MNCPA GR team has done; we’ve also been seeking your help, too. We’ve asked several times for members to send emails and make phone calls to legislators to support our efforts. Thank you to those who have responded to our requests and have reached out to your state senator and representative.

I’ve written many times about the importance of getting to know your legislators before you need to ask them for something. A networking principle is to build your network before you need it. When you need information to make a business decision, who do you ask? Most likely it’s someone you know and trust in your professional network. Legislators are the same as you; they seek advice from those they know and trust.
You may not agree with every position your legislators stand for, but you have something they value: your opinion as a constituent, and your expertise as a CPA. Want further evidence of how much value you bring? A few years ago, the Minnesota House Small Business Caucus did a survey of Minnesota businesses and one of the questions asked was, “When you have questions about your business, what resources do you use?” As you can see in the chart above, CPAs were the No. 1 resource.

Moving forward

It is anybody’s guess as to what the new normal will look like after the pandemic subsides. What will remain constant is the need to share your firsthand experience and knowledge with state leaders as they develop rules and regulations that govern how your business or clients operate.
The MNCPA will continue our collective efforts to build support for the profession’s interests. You can help support these efforts by getting to know your legislator.

Stay involved and keep in the loop by visiting

mncpa.org/gr

Do you want to put your skills to use to help legislators best understand the importance of their work and what specific bills might mean for Minnesotans? Email gfragnito@mncpa.org.