Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Only seven Mondays until the 2017 session begins

By Casey Fields, manager for municipal advocacy
The campaigns are over and the election dust has settled. We can breathe a sigh of relief that the campaign commercials are over, and the mailers will no longer clog up our mailboxes. Now the real work begins for local officials. 

We have 18 new members in the House of Representatives and eight new members of the Senate. This is the largest freshman class in the Senate in recent memory. It's not too early to let our legislators know what the priorities for cities and towns will be in the 2017 session.

In the December issue of Uptown, municipal officials get an in-depth look at the 2017 Advocacy Initiatives for cities and towns. The front page article goes through five major challenges facing cities and towns with action items that would result in changing state law to meet those challenges. 

Blog posts over the next four weeks will describe each of the individual initiatives. In the meantime and moving forward, here’s what else we need to do.

On the Municipal Association's website, there is a sample proclamation councils can adopt in support of the 2017 advocacy initiatives. This sends a message from your council to your legislators that these priorities are ones that are important to your city. Download the Word document of the proclamation and send a copy back to me after your council passes it.

If you have new legislators, call them now if you haven’t already. Introduce yourself and your city. Exchange cell phone numbers and email addresses. Start the relationship. Don’t ask for anything. Just provide them information about your city and its vision for the future. Take them a copy of the proclamation supporting the Advocacy Initiatives. Thank them for representing you and your city.

If your legislator was re-elected, call to say “congratulations” on serving another term. Renew that relationship that is already there. Exchange cell phone numbers. Thank them for everything they do for your city and point them to the Association’s website for more information on the Advocacy Initiatives. The Association staff has printed cards you can give to your legislators outlining the initiatives or you can get a copy from the website.

Building positive relationships with legislators is the most important thing mayors and councilmembers can do to advance good legislation to help cities and towns be the economic drivers and centers of commerce for South Carolina. These relationships help stop bad legislation and pass good legislation. These relationships establish local elected leaders as the go-to source of municipal information. These relationships provide valuable information to legislators in Columbia about cities and towns. These relationships are the backbone of our grassroots network across the state. 

There's a quick list of the newly elected House members and Senate below. We'll have contact info and committee assignments for them in a blog post after the December 7 reorganization sessions. Stay tuned. 


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