Be an Involved Constituent
If the 2018 FAA reauthorization process demonstrated anything, it’s that there is incredible power in educating members of Congress about how the industry works. The easiest way to ensure that your lawmakers want to help your business is to make sure they understand the positive impact your company has on the both local economy and aviation safety is to host them at your company’s facilities.
While ARSA’s legislative team works hard for you daily, nothing substitutes for a constituent’s personal involvement in the legislative and political process. Since the campaign cycle is almost never-ending, it is always a good time to review the ways you can engage your lawmakers:
Finding Your Lawmakers
To find your representative and senators, visit www.govtrack.us/congress/members/map. You can find your legislators by entering your address and zip code. The search will bring up your representatives and senators. Clicking on respective links allows you to view a background and contact information page for each of your elected officials, including websites, Twitter and Facebook pages and Washington, D.C. phone info.
The place to start is the role district offices play in a congressional staff. A district office (U.S. senators and staff often refer to it as “state offices”) represents the home base for your U.S. House and Senate representatives. It employs dedicated individuals from the local community who answer constituent concerns. The staff is ready to answer questions about legislation, provide information about district activities, set up an appointment with your representative and help with other matters of importance or interest.
To access information about their home offices, you’ll need to visit their websites for further information – usually under a “contact” or “office locations” heading. Most representatives and senators have more than one district office, making your visit even more convenient. Remember your company and residence might be in different congressional districts or states; if so, you may engage multiple sets of elected officials representing your home and business.
Visit the home office to inform your lawmakers and staff of issues important to your business – let them know you are there and you represent votes! Opening the door to an ongoing dialogue through this local contact is easy, but if you are still feeling uncomfortable about making politics local, contact ARSA for assistance.
Town Hall Meetings
Many representatives or their supporters host town hall or other community meetings. These fora provide an opportunity to gain insight into your representative’s priorities as well as his or her position on national, international and community issues. Most importantly, these events are a chance to initiate meaningful dialogue.
To get information on events scheduled or occurring in your area, contact the staff at the district office. You may also learn of an event through your local paper, newscast or congressional office’s newsletter or website.
When attending a town hall meeting, be prepared to make the most of the event. Here are a few suggestions:
Speak Up and Be Prepared. Be ready to ask thoughtful, concise questions. Have data to support your concerns and positions. This will ensure you are remembered by the representative and staff.
Make it Personal. It is important to establish yourself not just as a constituent but as a representative of other voters. Tell your representative about your company – the type of work it does and number of employees. Know how a policy will affect you or your family, business or community and provide firsthand accounts of that impact.
Talk to Staff. Members usually bring several members of their staff to meetings. Be sure to interact with them, particularly if you are unable to interact with the representative. In all cases, obtain their business cards or at write down names, titles and contact information.
Leave Paper. Create a company profile from ARSA’s Legislative Page (download the template: http://arsa.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/ARSA-CompanyProfile-20130722.docx). Provide it along with any documents that support your position or concerns, including ARSA’s legislative priorities, to the representative or staff member.
Follow Up. Be persistent (but also polite) in following up with your representative after an in-person event. Remember that creating a dialogue is only the first step, maintaining that dialogue is key.
Attend Multiple Events. Also have other people from your company attend meetings, so that the representative can hear about the issue from multiple voices with the same concerns.
Use in-person events to form a relationship with your representative and staff. The more often you are seen and heard, the more likely the member will heed your concerns. Town hall meetings are a good way to stay in touch with your elected officials and keep yourself updated on what action being taken by your government, be it local, state or federal.
Reminder: To find your representative and senators, visit www.govtrack.us/congress/members/map. You can find your legislators by entering your address and zip code. The search will bring up your representatives and senators. Clicking on respective links allows you to view a background and contact information page for each of your elected officials, including websites, Twitter and Facebook pages and Washington, D.C. phone info.
Facility visits give members of Congress and legislative staff an opportunity to see first-hand and up close what your company does and how it fits into the aviation industry. It’s also an opportunity for lawmakers to meet your employees (whose votes they want to win) and to show their commitment to the local business community.
The best time for a facility visit is during congressional recesses. Since legislators are now back at work through the fall, it’s a great time to follow up on past engagement or lay the foundation for a future field trip. Here are simple steps for you to follow when inviting lawmakers for a facility visit. Remember that representatives and senators have tremendous demands on their time, so you must be flexible in scheduling a tour and even be willing to have a congressional staffer come and visit.
Steps to inviting your member of Congress:
Locate scheduler contact information. Go to http://arsa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/ARSA-Schedulers-20181004.xlsx and search the excel spreadsheet for your lawmakers’ schedulers. If the scheduler isn’t listed, please contact ARSA.
Draft an email to the scheduler. Use ARSA’s facility visit request template and be sure to enter pertinent information where indicated. Either place on company letterhead and send as an attachment or copy into the body of an email.
Let us know you’ve sent the request. Either copy firstname.lastname@example.org on your request or send a copy after the fact so the legislative team can follow up.
If you don’t receive a response. One week after sending the letter to your lawmaker, call their congressional office to verify that they received your invitation. Tell them your name, what company you’re from and when you sent the request; then ask about the likelihood of a tour, possible timing and be sure to offer that staff may come if the member is not available. Congressional staff are the “issue experts” for members, and it’s just as important that they understand your business!
Schedule the meeting/visit. Once the site visit or meeting is scheduled, let ARSA’s legislative team know. We’ll send you an ARSA briefing packet with information about specific issues you may want to raise, as well as useful background information about your congressional representative.
Enjoy! Make sure you capture the event with photographs. You can share these photos with the visiting member of Congress, who may even display a photo in his or her office. Give them a hat, t-shirt, or other takeaway with your company’s logo so they’ll remember the visit.
Let ARSA know what happened. Whether it’s a facility visit or office meeting, let ARSA know you’ve been in touch. As a politically active member, you may even be featured in ARSA’s communications! (See the Sept. 6, 2019 “hotline highlight” for a great example.) Be sure to forward us some of those pictures too!
Keep communication going. Setting up a visit or meeting is an important first step. However, many members find keeping an open dialogue with their congressional staff is beneficial to their business, and the industry. Although we encourage you to talk about the issues important to the industry, businesses face problems every day and sometimes congressional intervention can help. So be sure to keep those communication lines open!
Taking the initiative to invite a member of Congress to your facility is an easy and fun way to raise the profile of your company and your industry. And it’s a great way to build relationships with legislators that will serve your interests down the road.
If you have any questions about planning or scheduling a tour, let ARSA help.
July 9, 2013
One of the challenges ARSA faces on Capitol Hill is that many lawmakers don’t even know the aviation maintenance industry exists. That is why it’s so important to invite elected officials to get a firsthand look at repair stations and the great contributions your company is making to the local economy and aviation safety.
The repair station security rule mandates and the subsequent ban on FAA foreign repair station certificates are an unfortunate example of ill-conceived policies enacted by those who don’t understand how the industry operates. VISION-100 (FAA reauthorization legislation enacted in 2003) required the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to issue security rules for all repair stations by August 2004. When the TSA failed to meet that deadline in 2007, lawmakers demanded the security regulations be completed by August 2008. The penalty for failure to comply: the FAA would be prohibited from issuing new foreign repair station certifications.
Nearly 10 years later, the TSA has failed to issue final repair station security regulations and the FAA prohibition has been in effect for over four years. Even if you’re not looking to open an overseas repair station, you should be concerned. The longer the ban is in place, the greater is the chance foreign civil aviation authorities will retaliate by refusing to issue certifications to U.S. repair stations, which will hinder the ability of companies to service overseas customers.
To prevent these harmful policies while pushing legislation that will help the industry (such as permitting the ban on FAA foreign repair station certificates), individual companies need to engage their lawmakers. Facility visits are the best way to introduce policymakers to your company, your employees, and your industry. ARSA is standing by to facilitate these visits. Please contact us if you would like help identifying candidates. If you have a lawmaker or candidate visiting your facility, please let ARSA know ahead of time so we can provide you with an update on hot legislative issues and feature your company in the hotline. Remember, congressional staff visiting your facility is as important as the actual member of Congress. These tours are a great way to raise the visibility of your company and your industry.