by Chris Heaton - Vice President for Advocacy and Public Affairs
Members who participated in ESA’s District Day last week found the visits to their local congressional offices to be productive. Engaging with their elected officials and staffs, ESA Members moved the needle, educating many on the issues we face in our industry and why they are so important.
More importantly, members who spoke with congressmen and their staff conveyed support for issues like continuation of career and technical education funding that will help develop innovative ways to attract more post-secondary school graduates, military veterans and others seeking a career change. Every congressional office that ESA members visited supported the need for career and technical education.
The number of members who expressed the difficulties they face in finding qualified persons for technical, sales and even administrative support was surprising to some elected officials and their staff.
This is where the power of personal visits have the most potential for meaningful impact. The ability to engage these officials with personal experiences and provide insight to real-world realities can move legislation or give a jump-start to legislation that was moribund.
Another issue on the agenda was school security funding. This also found broad support from congressional offices, but the target for funding was not always clear. With the recent school shootings, some offices were in support of tighter gun control laws. Members presented the need for Congress to support funding for infrastructure improvements to facility security, video surveillance and access control in ways that will prevent individuals from getting into schools.
Increasing the presence of law enforcement, crisis intervention and anonymous reporting systems all have their place in providing greater security for students, but these efforts have diminished effectiveness with the absence of structural and electronic security measures.
ESA members also took time to discuss another important issue to the industry – occupational licensing. With occupational licensing being the focus of many state legislatures and a Supreme Court decision that struck down occupational licensing boards’ ability to engage in anti-trust activities, it is important that any legislation coming out of Washington, D.C. be designed to encourage uniformity in occupational licensing and reciprocity. This issue was less familiar to most congressional offices and our members brought challenges with occupational licensing to their attention with great insight and knowledge that could prove to be productive over time as Congress weighs current and future legislation.
ESA District Day was successfully delivered by engaged members who took just a few hours from a single day, in most cases, to visit their elected members of Congress.
This is what grassroots advocacy is all about. And this is where change begins.
Thank you to all who participated and helped to make the first “District Day” a success.
“Good meeting, thanks ESA for setting it up. Hope the rest of the legislators were as receptive as mine were," says Chris Bird after meeting with Congressman Steve Cohen's office.
“I met with state director Andy Merritt, and it went well,” says ESA Member, Sofia Aguilar of A-1 Security Systems. “I was told to expect a 20-30 minute meeting and I was there one-on-one for over an hour. He also invited me to be one of 120 Coloradans hosted by both of our senators to a special summit in Washington DC next June. He was very interested in our industry and our association’s members.”