Every year when the Association staff plans the Hometown Legislative Action Day, our goal is to bring in a number of legislators to talk about various perspectives on what's happening at the State House. Despite the fact we get confirmations from the legislators well in advance of the meeting, we know committee meetings come up at the last minute that present conflicts for the legislators.
It’s a risk we take every year. This year was no different.
Reps. Kenny Bingham and Gilda-Cobb Hunter had agreed to come give us a peek behind the curtain of how legislators get and use information about specific issues. We heard late last Tuesday evening that Rep. Kenny Bingham had a budget subcommittee meeting come up at the same time that he had committed to our meeting.
Fortunately, Rep. Gilda-Cobb Hunter’s subcommittee was scheduled until later in the day so she was able to be with us to talk about working with city officials from a legislator’s perspective. Greer Mayor Rick Danner (and the Association’s past president) engaged Rep. Cobb-Hunter in a lively discussion that focused on how city officials can make sure their legislative delegation knows what’s happening back home in their cities and towns.
Bottom line, Rep. Cobb-Hunter stressed staying in touch, “especially when you aren’t asking for something,” she said. “City officials and legislators represent the same people,” she noted, “and they should be just as interested as you are in what’s going on in your city.”
Ongoing communication is key if you want your legislators to stay engaged and understand how what happens at the State House affects the cities and towns they represent, she said.
After Rep. Cobb-Hunter’s remarks, Sumter Mayor Joe McElveen, president of the Municipal Association, said, “She hit the nail on the head when she said our voice matters. If our legislators don't hear from us, they won't know what's important to our cities and towns…and she made it clear that matters.”
Despite the last minute agenda change, we were very fortunate to have Rep. Cobb-Hunter join us. Plus we counted our blessings HLAD didn’t fall the week before or the week after so we avoided the winter weather…and the House furlough.
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