Man, it has been such a long and hot summer. Don’t get me wrong, as a Florida cracker, the heat is just a fact of life for us Floridians. It is the cost of living in such a beautiful state. But this year was something different. I remember one day this summer there was a reported heat index of 117 degrees. Golf today? No thanks. My wife and I went drift fishing for trout in the St. Marks flats one morning and not only was it brutally hot, but it was so dead calm that the boat simply stopped moving.
This week, however, is different. Mid-eighties all week and not a lot of humidity. There is a coolness to the air we haven’t seen in a while, and it is so welcome. Coupled with the sighting of pumpkin spiced lattes at Starbucks and the start of the college football season, it is clear the sign of the times can only mean we are headed to fall.
I am also now beginning to see another sign of the times. Interim committee meetings in Tallahassee, bills being filed for consideration and, of course, phone calls for campaign contributions which can only mean one thing, the 2024 Legislative Session must be just around the corner. It’s true of course, the 2024 Legislative Session is scheduled to begin on January 9th and conclude on March 9th, 2024. With interim committee meetings scheduled every month from now until the start of Session, now is the time to get prepared for success in 2024.
I have worked in this process for a number of years, and I have identified are several key ingredients that are helpful to success in the legislative process. Check up and see how you are doing.
Are you scheduled to attend the FLTA Lobby Days? Save the Date for February 5-7, 2024
Lobby days provides the perfect venue for participants to network with peers, gather intelligence and strengthen relationships both in the title industry and with legislative leaders. Like a staff retreat, getting out of your typical daily routine and gathering with other industry leaders provides you the opportunity to take see a bigger picture on the challenges and opportunities we are facing as a title industry. It is also a great opportunity to catch up with the state legislators you know, get to know those you don’t and potentially develop a contact with state regulators. If you haven’t done so already, make plans to attend.
Do you know your state senator and state representative personally?
Not to oversimplify but success during a legislative session, whether trying to pass a bill or defeat a bad idea, is based on relationships and intelligence. Legislators don’t typically file bills attacking industries that are important to their district. Nor do they make it a practice to attacking someone they know and like from their community.
Further, term limits in Florida’s Constitution limits a state legislators’ term to 8 years in most cases. That means today’s freshman legislator is tomorrows Speaker, committee chair or leader. And concurrently, your relationship with your local state legislator has a life span of a brief 8 years. After that, someone else will hold the seat and the process begins again. Just like in business, you are either growing or you are dying.
If you already know your state legislator that’s a great start but, have you connected with them recently? You should think of it like you would a client. How do you get a client to remain with your business, connect with them frequently, not just when the bill is due and help them be successful at their goals. Politics is no different.
Do you understand challenges in the title industry from a broader perspective than simply your challenges?
Each title agent or underwriter faces different challenges based upon their client makeup, new business targets, where they choose to operate and what their goals are. The title industry in Florida also faces numerous challenges to our ability to be successful in a complicated and interconnected industry that is critical to Florida’s continued growth.
I am frequently asked by legislators to help them understand the challenges particular clients are facing. When meeting with your local legislators you should be prepared to explain not just your individual business’ challenges but also broader title industry challenges. Being able to do so will empower you with your local state legislators and reinforce your position as a valuable source of information and contact.
I seem to remember an old Florida Lottery commercial with the catch phrase being something like, “You can’t win if you don’t play.” It’s a funny tagline that I find equally relevant to legislative advocacy. Truth is, we will not win for the title industry in Florida if our members choose to sit on the sidelines. It's clear by the signs that the 2024 Legislative Session is approaching. What are you going to do about it?
David Daniel is the Agents' Section Lobbyist and Lobbyist with Smith, Bryan & Myers