Dozens of representatives from the bus industry will descend on the Nation’s capital April 2 and 3 to participate in the 2019 Bus & Motorcoach Industry Legislative Fly-In. If you are considering participating this April but still wondering what all the hullabaloo is about, this article is for you.
The purpose of your participation is to meet with your Federal legislators and inform them of the role you play in transportation in their district and state, national concerns and issues along with seeking their support. It is also likely you may be supporting other operators from your state when they visit with their Federal legislators. For most, it’s exciting to be part of the process.
This is fast-paced
There’s a good chance the fly-in is the fastest pace event you will ever have the pleasure of participating. From welcome to wrap-up, about 30 hours, you will be busy in meetings. Don’t worry, we factored in a good night’s sleep.
On your first half-day, you will be introduced to the most vexing issues facing the industry and how legislation may help or hurt the situation. Generally, you will be provided with three talking points to discuss with your legislator’s office. You will also learn how to speak with legislators and their staff, and how to navigate Capitol Hill as well as the hallowed halls of Congress.
Do my legislators really want to hear from me?
You bet they do! First and foremost, as a constituent from a House member’s district and U. S. Senator’s state, you just might be the most important person who visits their office that day. You represent something very important to your Federal legislators: you are an employer with significant capital investments in your community and you provide transportation to the public in their district (Remember, they live there, too!).
What will I say?
You can start off by saying something about, well, you and your company. If you start off with, “My name is ______ and I employ ___ in our community and we have invested $__________ in equipment and real property. Within our service area, we routinely provide transportation to _____ High School, ________ _________ Community High School, and ________ University. Most recently we provided shuttle transportation to _______________ convention in ___________.”
Don’t be surprised if someone in the office says, “I attended ___________ and I have ridden on your motorcoach!”
After introductions, you will typically have three industry issues, which you were previously briefed in the welcome session the day before. Hopefully, you spent a little time reviewing them the evening before.
What if they ask something I don’t know the answer to?
Nobody expects you to know everything. When you don’t know something, just say you want to make sure they have the correct information and you, or someone from the UMA team, will follow up with them (we will keep you posted as well).
So, who all will I be seeing?
When you register, we ask you to provide your home and business address along with any additional locations you may have. We will schedule appointments for you with the House Representative in those districts and both U.S Senators in your state. Additionally, and to the greatest extent we can, we will schedule you with other participants from your state in other Congressional districts.
I hear some of the time you only get to meet with staff.
Sometimes, yes. Often your legislator may be in committee meetings or preparing to vote. Each legislator has staff assigned to varying segments of concerns including “transportation.” The individual the legislator assigned to meet with you is well-versed in transportation legislation and will brief the legislator about your concerns. Often, the legislator will drop in or ask for you to be brought over to the to visit.
Will I be visiting my legislator’s office all alone?
Along with fellow operators, we typically schedule a UMA team member to accompany you.
How will I get around Washington, D.C.?
For the most part, visiting your legislators will require quite a bit of walking. Capitol Hill is surprisingly compact, considering there are three House buildings on the south side of the Capitol (connected by tunnels) and three Senate buildings on the north side (also connected by tunnels). The schedulers will try their best to limit the number of times you must crossover from House to Senate and vice-versa. Depending on the time, you may need to take a taxi (don’t worry, there’s plenty of them) for the distance over to the other body. To be sure, wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to do considerable walking.
What’s the “wrap-up session”?
After a long day of lobbying on “the hill,” everyone takes a little time to have a refreshment, snack and share some “war stories.” In general, it’s a great time to reflect and share notes and ideas. Most everyone will be heading for the airport afterwards for a flight home.
How much does it cost to participate in the fly-in?
There is no cost to register for the event. You are responsible for your travel and any incidental expenses.
I heard about fundraisers, what are these?
Participants in the fly-in will have an opportunity to participate in one or two campaign fundraisers. It’s a great way to see “behind the curtain.” These fundraisers are strictly optional.
I still have a couple of questions.
Give me a call (800-424-8262) or send me an email at email@example.com.
So, how do sign up?
Go to www.uma.org for all the details including hotel and schedule.
You will receive information for review (plane reading) just prior to your arrival that will help prepare you for the fly-in. Don’t forget to bring plenty of business cards and comfortable shoes. This definitely gets the Capitol Matters green light!