Small Business Has Big Influence

New York Times columnist Paul Sullivan recently wrote an article entitled, “What the Small Player Can Expect When Using a Lobbyist,” and suggested that small businesses are at a disadvantage when it comes to having their interests represented before lawmakers. But what does the small player without big bucks to hire a lobbyist do in order to have their voice heard by lawmakers?

The “go-it-alone” strategy rarely, if ever, results in lawmakers adopting policies or making changes. Good luck even trying to get a meeting with lawmakers. The alternative, as Sullivan puts forward, is for businesses concerned about the same issue–that are usually competitors– to join forces in ad hoc coalitions. If you’ve ever been to the state Capitol, you’ve seen the crowds. Those are the people that descend on the Capitol wearing matching neon shirts and carrying bullhorns. They make a lot of noise and, in the end, usually have to hire a lobbyist to get anything done anyway.

As a small business owners, it’s tough to take a day off so that you can come to Albany with thousands of other people demanding legislators’ attention on a thousand other issues. And it’s probably not your style to wear neon and carry a poster advertising your cause.

Fortunately, members of NFIB benefit from having full-time advocates at the state and federal levels dedicated to fighting on behalf of small business—one cause, all the time. Our members can take comfort – and concentrate on running their business – knowing that they are represented by an organization armed with expertise on small business issues, who know the legislative process inside and out, who have established relationships with key decision-makers, and importantly, can get things done.

Elected officials in New York are well-aware that NFIB keeps track of every lawmaker’s voting record to gauge their support of small business. We survey our members throughout the year to identify the issues that members identify as being most important and create a legislative agenda. Although most legislators claim to be supportive of small business, it can’t just be a campaign promise. Our scorecard tells where they really stand.

Small business advocacy is only part of the NFIB story. Keeping up with the ever changing state and federal regulations, that’s the hard part — especially given the President’s agenda.  Rest assured, NFIB can help with that too though. On the Legal Center’s webpage, you can have your tax questions answered, read up on The Affordable Care Act and keep up with ever changing labor laws.

So, Paul Sullivan got it wrong when he wrote that big corporations have more influence because of their powerful and pricey lobbyists. NFIB’s recent advocacy efforts were instrumental in blocking the 45% Thruway toll-hike, enacting the property tax cap and pension reform and are working today to avoid a costly hike in the minimum wage.

These are fights worth taking for small business.  These are big victories that have a big impact for small business.  And most importantly, everyday is “small business day” for NFIB.

About Mike Durant

Mike Durant was named New York State Director of NFIB in May 2011. Prior to joining NFIB as the Assistant State Director in May 2010, Durant began his career in the New York Senate working in the Office of Member Services. From there, he served in a number of positions during former New York Governor George E. Pataki’s administration. As a Research Specialist in the New York State Office of Demographic Policy, Mike was responsible for drafting a redistricting proposal for Governor Pataki. In addition, Mike served as a Research Specialist for the Empire State Development Corporation, as well as the Associate Commissioner of Human Resource Management with the New York Department of Labor. Durant also spent four years working at the Questar III BOCES as a specialist focusing on the complex formulas that drive aid to school districts across the state while also taking a lead role in the state legislative/budget process as it related to education policy. These past positions have given Mike a deep understanding of the complex political economics of the State of New York. Active in the community, Durant has served on a number of boards in both the village of Ballston Spa and Town of Milton. Durant received his bachelor’s degree from Siena College in Loudonville, New York and resides in Ballston Spa with his wife and two children.
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