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Washington comes to the MNCPA

Advocacy

Geno Fragnito, MNCPA director of government relations | October 2019 Footnote

Editor's note: Updated October 1, 2019

A key part of the MNCPA government relations team’s efforts is advocating for members and the profession at both the state and federal levels. This includes maintaining relationships with elected officials, as well as developing relationships with newly elected lawmakers.

In late summer, the MNCPA holds meetings with members of Minnesota’s federal delegation. This year, MNCPA members in the Second and Third Congressional Districts met with their respective congresspeople — Reps. Dean Phillips and Angie Craig — over breakfast in their districts.

It’s a connection that usually pays dividends in laying the foundation for solid relationships for years to come.

As new representatives to the United States Congress, Phillips and Craig talked about getting up to speed in a challenging time. If you recall, Congress, which traditionally starts its new session in early January, delayed convening this year because of the federal government shutdown. Ironically, both Phillips and Craig said this allowed them to spend more time getting to know their new colleagues — on both sides of the aisle — that they wouldn’t have been afforded under normal circumstances.

Both Phillips and Craig fielded questions at the breakfasts about the national deficit, the budget, taxes, small business, health care and immigration.

“Small business is the engine of this country,” Craig said, who sits on the House Committee on Small Business.

Phillips serves on the House Committee on Financial Services, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the House Committee on Ethics. Craig also serves on the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

These breakfasts provide an opportunity for CPAs to meet and ask questions of their federal lawmakers. Before and after the breakfasts, several CPAs also had the opportunity to ask questions one-on-one with their representatives.

The legislative process can be slow; it has often been said the process is a marathon, not a sprint. It is also sometimes confusing and, occasionally, frustrating. It’s common for it to take many years to gather enough support for your issue and to see results. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Efforts to connect with your lawmakers, whether by phone, email or in person, can go a long way in helping craft legislation and forge relationships that benefit your clients and businesses. Even a well-crafted question at a one-time meeting, like at our congressional breakfasts, can make a lasting impression on our representatives. How do I know this? I hear it often.

Thank you for your continued help in shaping good legislation for the profession and your partners.