There’s a lot of uncertainty in the business world right now about the state of politics in Michigan and across the country.
Laws and regulations are changed regularly and sometimes with little to no involvement from the people or businesses that are most directly impacted. Just like you wouldn’t operate a business without insurance, you shouldn’t operate your business without a government relation professional or strategy. Lobbyists can bridge the gap between affected parties and government action.
I’m a multi-client lobbyist. I represent multiple businesses or interests to the Michigan Legislature, administration and regulatory bodies. It’s my role to know the process, people and politics of what goes on in Lansing. I work with business leaders or in-house government relations teams to identify and navigate issues. I spend the majority of my time monitoring pending bills for clients to let them know what they are doing and advising them about whether the bills are likely to become laws.
In addition, I work with clients to proactively address changes in the law to make business operations more efficient. We also work to educate legislators on our clients’ industry or interests in the state. This advocacy work helps to demystify sometimes complex businesses for elected officials and to explain how legislation and regulations help or hinder their ability to create jobs and otherwise expand operations in the state.
I have seen countless examples of where businesses that regularly engaged in the legislative process were asked their opinions on proposals. I’ve also seen numerous other examples where businesses were scrambling to find a lobbyist after a bill was introduced to get them a seat at the decision-making table. In the last legislative session, from January of 2021 to December of 2022, 3,800 bills were introduced. Chances are more likely than not that one of those bills would have severely impacted the way you do business, or if you do business at all.
While the process of passing a bill or regulation is very transparent, the value of a lobbyist is really in the development of a relationship between your business and legislative leaders with an interest in your subject area. Your time and attention is best spent working on the development of your business, and government relations is an activity that you can easily contract out to a lobbying firm.
The most frequent questions I am asked when I’m talking to a prospective client are how much our services costs and how we structure our engagements. Most lobbyists charge a monthly retainer for a specific time period but allow for a 30-day notice to end services. Monthly retainers can vary widely based on the client’s legislative goals and amount of time needed to achieve those goals.
One thing to pay particular attention to if you’re considering a lobbying firm is the potential for conflicts of interest. The last thing you want is to hire a lobbyist that has interests on both sides of your issue, so be sure to ask for a list of the lobbyist’s clients to ensure you’re not helping to fund your opposition.
Having a trusted advisor / lobbyist working for you in Lansing will help you identify where you need to be engaged, will help develop a strategy for your engagement, and will offer a fair price for the work that needs to be done. Effective lobbyists become an extension of your business operation, serving as your eyes and ears in Lansing and the insurance you need to protect your interests.
Peter J. Langley
101 N. Washington Square, Suite 1200
Lansing, MI 48933
T: (517) 324-5622
F: (248) 901-4040