Ever wonder where the term “lobbyist” comes from? Legend has it that when Washington, DC became our nation’s capital, most Senators and Congressman took rooms at one of a handful of hotels including the Willard on Pennsylvania Avenue. Each morning, individuals would congregate in the hotel lobby hoping for a chance to catch a moment of a legislator’s time, becoming the first “lobbyists” to try to influence lawmakers.
This week, historic preservationists won’t lurk in hotel lobbies, though they will gather at another venerable historic hotel, the Mayflower, to prepare for Preservation Lobby Day, March 2-3. On Tuesday, they will be briefed on the issues: the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), tax legislation, the Energy and Jobs bills, and learn all the ways that historic preservation can benefit from these proposals or be stymied by their inappropriate provisions. After hearing about the issues, participants will gather up stacks of one page “leave behinds,” pin on buttons calling for full funding for the HPF and stating “Preservation Equals Jobs,” and gather with their state lobbying teams to review their schedule of visits.
Lobbying teams are made up of preservation professionals, citizen advocates, and State and Tribal Preservation Officers. Some are seasoned pros, others find themselves on the Hill for the first time, but all have a role to play.
Most meetings, which should be scheduled in advance, will last for less than 30 minutes, so it is important to focus on issues where that lawmaker can play a critical role. For example, if your Senator sits on the appropriations committee you will talk about the HPF. You’ll use real world examples from your state or district to show how such funding creates jobs, stimulates economic development, and revitalizes communities. If your Representative has not yet joined the Historic Preservation Caucus, you’ll ask them to do so. And, if he/she sits on a tax writing committee you’ll be sure to come armed with the details of how the credit has been used in your community. Depending on the size of your state, its number of Congressional Districts, and the number of people who managed to travel to Washington, you could be visiting one or several offices on Wednesday. For example, Maryland has 8 Congressional Districts, and of course, two Senators. Because Maryland is within striking distance of DC, 14 people have agreed to make visits. Each meeting will include three to five preservation advocates including one who is a constituent of the Representative. Other states will have far fewer team members and potentially far more offices to visit, but one way or the other they will try to be sure that key legislators set their eyes on a preservationist or two on Wednesday.
Preservation Lobby Day, now in its 34th year, is sponsored by Preservation Action in concert with the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Offices, the National Association of Tribal Preservation Offices, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions.
For more information click here to hear about 2009’s Lobby Day efforts on the PreservationNation.org Blog, or visit the Historic Preservation Advocacy Week page on PreservationAction.org.
Can’t Come to Washington? In an effort to Save America's Treasures the National Trust for Historic Preservation has put together a social media toolkit. Aside from making appointments with your representatives during the spring recess you can also Tweet, change your Facebook status, post a picture on Flickr or let people know about our video on YouTube (or create your own). Click here for more information.#SocialMedia #Lobbying #ForumBulletin #Advocacy