Playing the waiting game

I am frequently asked what a typical day in the life of an American Family lobbyist entails. Perhaps there is no better example than a day I spent at the Wisconsin Capitol a few weeks ago.

Madison was hit with a large blizzard on Feb. 2 and the governor declared a state of emergency for 29 counties. The Legislature was in session, however, to debate one of American Family’s most important legislative issues this session.

My drive into work was surprisingly without incident, perhaps because I was one of the few people on the road! I made my way over to a 9 a.m. meeting of the Senate Insurance Committee, where members were voting on passage of Senate Bill 7, legislation that would restore consumer choice in auto insurance coverage by repealing a mandatory increase in minimum limits. At 11 a.m., the State Assembly went onto the floor to debate the Assembly companion bill to SB 7 (companion bills have identical language in each house of the legislature).

My job on this wintry day was to speak with legislators in the final moments before the floor vote to answer questions, solidify support from proponents of the legislation, and urge those who are on the fence to support the bill. Shortly after gaveling into session, members adjourned to their party caucuses, where they discussed the legislative calendar behind closed doors.

I waited, and waited, and waited. My colleagues and I were assured that we have the votes for passage, but that we would likely see an onslaught of last-minute amendments to slow down or kill the bill. As the Assembly returns to the chambers at 3 p.m., debate began on the 11 amendments that had been drafted. Democratic and Republican lawmakers sparred over certain provisions of the bill and eventually worked through the amendments before the vote for final passage. Just as a roll call was ordered, a representative who opposed the legislation stood up and objected to a third reading. This is one of the few procedural moves that the minority party has that can delay action on a bill until the next session day.

So, eight hours after beginning what was supposed to be a “successful” work day, I returned home in the same place I started. I planned to be back in the Assembly chambers again Feb. 22, where the bill would be up for a final vote and passed. American Family and the property and casualty insurance industry will be pleased when the bill is signed into law in the near future.

There is a famous saying that there are two things that you never want to see made – laws and sausages. Luckily, I enjoy the “sausage-making” and am proud to represent a company of such repute.

***Monica is the state government affairs counsel for American Family to the legislature and state department of insurance in Wisconsin and Indiana. In her role, she also works with the City of Madison and Dane County on issues of impact to American Family. Prior to her work at American Family, Monica was a legislative staffer and local government lobbyist. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and quality time with friends and family.

One Comment

  1. Posted March 1, 2011 at 2:39 am | Permalink

    Excellent post. This is what I was looking for. Thanks for sharing.

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