News from the Chicago Chapter

Report From IREM 2016 Fall Conference: Becoming a Citizen Lobbyist

Posted by StarChapter on 11/17/2016 1:22 pm  

By Shruti Kumar, CPM®

2017 Secretary, IREM Executive Council

Report From IREM 2016 Fall Conference: Becoming a Citizen Lobbyist

To date, 2016 has been a good year for me.  I was awarded the CPM® of the Year during the IREM Chicago Premier Awards in March.  I became involved in Chapter 23 committees, and I was elected Secretary for 2016-2017 on the Executive Council.

I did not think anything could top that. I was wrong. IREM Chapter 23 offered participation in the IREM 2016 Fall Conference in San Diego. The conference was more than what I expected and so very rewarding. Three days of packed sessions, seminars, meetings, activities and networking left me more energized than before and wanting to accomplish more.

With so many events to choose from -- right from the New Attendee breakfast on the first morning to the REME Awards night on the last night -- it is very difficult to talk about key takeaways. With me attending the conference as the incoming Secretary, I was drawn to a particular seminar:  Becoming a Citizen Lobbyist, and the small presentation thereafter.

People often get daunted by words such as “advocacy,” “public policy,” “lobbyist,” and “legislation,” not knowing where to begin or if one can even make a difference. There are various public policies that affect the property management and real estate Industries. IREM works closely with National Association of REALTORS® Government Affairs to advocate for issues critical to the real estate management and commercial real estate industry.

To champion for our causes, NAR and IREM work with paid lobbyists and citizen lobbyists. While a paid lobbyist works directly with members of Congress, the impact of a citizen lobbyist is greater. A citizen lobbyist would be you or me, working with members of Congress directly to champion for causes that affect our industry. Staying active and engaged with our federal and state policy-makers is the best way to advocate and promote beneficial public policies for our industry. There really is no substitute for us, the practitioners, sharing our personal experience with legislators and their staff.

Why is it important, you ask? Here’s why:

  1. The decisions that they make will affect us and our bottom line.
  2. Nothing compares to personal experience.
  3. If you are not at the table, you are on the menu; there will be people lobbying – some for and some opposing an issue. It is up to us as industry professionals to make sure that opposition isn’t the only voice heard.

We can achieve this by meeting with legislators either by going to them or by having them speak to us at a Legislative luncheon or an event hosted by IREM national or a local chapter. There are pros and cons to both, but if we did both, it can only be advantageous to us. The 2016 IREM Public Policy Priorities are available on www.irem.org.

IREM has in the past visited Capitol Hill to meet with legislators and lobby for real estate management and commercial real estate issues. As of November 1, 2016, IREM has made revolutionary strides with the launch of Federal Action Center on www.irem.org, a resource that helps us connect easily with our federal and state elected officials with just a few clicks!  Highlights of the new system are:

  • Email elected officials.
  • Contact legislators via social media.
  • Ability to sign petitions with live update of counters of people who have taken action.
  • Find our Legislators.
  • Civic Action Center – providing details of candidates campaigning. It even helps to register to vote and find our polling place.
  • Patch-Through Calling – For time sensitive advocacy campaigns, IREM members can opt for a phone call that will give pre-recorded talking points before being patched though to the legislator’s office.

This political muscle needs our help to keep it competitive and effective. So, if you have not done so already, please sign up today at the Federal Action Center – Federal and State. For more information visit the IREM Public Policy web page.