As IREM staff walked around Capitol Hill on April 13, it was obvious that IREM members were full of energy and excitement. Over 230 IREM Members championed real estate management and commercial real estate issues in more than 210 meetings with members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Issues lobbied were the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016” (H.R. 3700), 1031 like-kind exchanges, carried interest, and marketplace fairness.
Prior to the Capitol Hill Visit Day, on Tuesday, April 12, IREM Members had a day packed with valuable public policy information. Members heard from a panel of industry experts during our session entitled “Legislative Update: What’s ahead?” The panel included: Don Wilkerson, IREM Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and President of Gaston and Wilkerson Management Group; Ryan McCormick, Senior Vice President and Counsel, Tax Policy of the Real Estate Roundtable; and Dan Wagner, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs with the Inland Real Estate Group. The three real estate policy gurus gave insight into what we can, and maybe more appropriately, cannot expect to see Congress do in 2016 and beyond. Immediately following the session was an orientation for the IREM Capitol Hill Visit Day where members received information on the event’s logistics, the four issues lobbied on the Hill, as well as the best practices for a successful Capitol Hill meeting from Capitol Policy Advisors president Dr. Leslie McCollum Gooch, Ph.D., and NAR Lobbyist, Colin Allen.
If you have not already, I encourage you to look at the LLS Special Edition Newsletter for a recap of last week’s meetings.
2017 and Beyond
As we say goodbye to the LLS and Capitol Hill Visit day, it is important to remember we are not changing our focus, only the location. We will continue to advocate for the real estate management industry at the federal level not only in Washington DC, but also in our legislator’s district offices. We know through research and personal experience that visiting a Congressman’s district office is equally and sometimes more effective than visiting their DC office. The Government Affairs staff at IREM HQ will continue to support your efforts in much the same way we have for the past 19 years. We will continue to research, write, and professionally publish orientation manuals and leave behinds. We will continue to prepare you in every way possible with training webinars, phone calls, and countless emails (only as needed I promise!)
Follow Up with your Legislators
With this transition underway, it is imperative we keep our momentum going. A good follow-up is just as important as your meeting. We have developed a thank you letter template you can use to follow-up on your meetings from last week. Please personalize this letter with your business letterhead and include a comment about your meeting(s). Treat this as an extension of your meeting, not an afterthought! Remember, they probably had dozens of meetings that day, try to help them remember you. Maybe there was a personal connection during your meeting such as a sports team or a hometown? Also, was there something they seemed unclear on or particularly interested in? This is a perfect time to address anything you felt was left unfinished. In your email, you should also include the pdf of the Leave Behind document to remind them of the policy issues you discussed last week.
IMPORTANT: Please coordinate with the IREM Members who were at each meeting so only ONE thank you email is sent to each office. Typically the Capitol Hill Coordinator sends the email with the attachments to the Member of Congress and/or their staff. Please be careful to not send more than one email to each office to avoid confusion.
Call for Pictures
Did you document your time in DC? If you have any photos from LLS or the Capitol Hill Visit you would like to share, please forward them to IREMLegislation@IREM.org. They may be posted on our website or future publications.
Some Final Words
The staff here at IREM HQ would like to extend a big THANK YOU for all you do to advocate for issues critical to the real estate management and commercial real estate industry! Your hard work and dedication make a difference. Staying active and engaged with your federal and state policy-makers is the best way to advocate and promote beneficial public policies for your industry. There really is no substitute for you, the practitioners, sharing your personal experience with legislators and their staff. So once more, whether you were a coordinator, participated in the meetings, or just observed, thank you for all you have done to make the 2016 Capitol Hill Visit a resounding success. We are already excited to see what 2017 will bring!