Lobbyist…not a four letter word!

Guest editorial by Sarah Speed

Lobbying…in a time of government gridlock, it feels like the root of all evil doesn’t it? Imagine slick haired, shiny shoed salesmen stalking the halls of the legislature preying upon good intentions and campaign promises, vying for the biggest yacht, the priciest dinner, and the deepest pockets!

rosie4The truth is, a lobbyist, especially a cause lobbyist is far more likely to look more like me – slightly stressed out, wearing a mix of Ann Taylor and Target, and popping into offices for appointments that have been rescheduled a dozen times.  I’m armed with fact sheets, bill analysis, and gentle reminders of goodwill generated by good bills.

Our system is complex and although special interests certainly play a serious role in gaining access to legislators, it is far from being the end of the story.  In a given session, legislators may consider 2,000 bills and be asked to vote on more than 400 of them.  No one could possibly get up to speed on all of the nuances of so many issues.  That’s where the information I can provide about the bills and the effect they will have comes in.  Many legislators have grown to depend on our expertise.

Lobbyists can build trust by providing accurate and timely information on legislative issues.  A good lobbyist will take the time to get to know each legislator and provide guidance and support on tough issues.  A cause lobbyist probably doesn’t have a big bank account and all of the associated perks of a large lobbying firm.  A good lobbyist makes appointments, makes friends, and quietly accomplishes progress on behalf of a particular cause.  That’s what makes a good lobbyist…but an even better lobbyist is YOU.  That’s right, YOU.  There are many types of lobbyists, some work for multiple clients, some work for just one issue or one company, but the most effective lobbyist is the citizen lobbyist.

The citizen lobbyist is someone who takes the time to educate their legislators on the issues that matter to them.  The citizen lobbyist may not have every answer, but that doesn’t stand in the way of making sure their legislator knows what issues matter and why.  The citizen lobbyist doesn’t have any other agenda, doesn’t necessarily have a campaign donation, and doesn’t start out expecting much but realizes that unless they speak up, their legislator may never know how much their constituents care.  Remember you, a member of the general public elected this legislator.  Even if you didn’t vote for them in the last election, they are well aware that another election is always around the corner and they want to know what matters to the people who put them in office.

We can all be citizen lobbyists, each time you pick up the phone, each time you respond to a Humane PA alert, or any action alert concerning animals, each time you meet with your legislators and each time you attend a fundraiser you are one step closer to being an awesome lobbyist.  You are one step closer to being someone who influences the future of animal protection and the lives of thousands of animals.  I work hard as a lobbyist, I am honest and transparent, and I provide the best information available.  Without you, our grassroots army, nothing would get done to protect animals.  As a lobbyist, I am relying on you to contact your legislators, to bring issues that matter to your legislator’s attention and to set the stage for the importance of the information I am about to provide.  Together as a team, a professional lobbyist and citizen lobbyist have the power to enact great change on behalf of animals in PA.

HeadshotSarah Speed serves as the legislative chair of the Animal Law Committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, board of Pennsylvania Animal Response Team,  and is also the Pennsylvania State Director for the Humane Society of the United States.  In that capacity, she works on a range of animal protection issues in Pennsylvania as well as lobbying the legislature on animal bills.

 

Posted in Animal cruelty, Animal law, non profit lobbying, Pennsylvania Law and animals, Pennsylvania legislation, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

Humane PA’s 2014 Candidate Survey Launched

logo00Humane PA, Pennsylvania’s Political Voice for Animals, is committed to passing stronger anti-cruelty laws in Pennsylvania and the way we approach this important task is to is to make sure that we elect humane leaders.  The Humane PA 2014 Candidate Survey, which helps us determine which candidates will receive Humane PA’s support has just been posted and is ready for candidates to take!

Humane PA 2014 Candidate Survey
*Please note this survey is for candidates only.

Humane PA will be issuing endorsements for the General Election in November. Before we endorse candidates, we give them the opportunity to let us know where they stand on animal cruelty so we can measure their responses and commitment to stand strong for the humane treatment of animals against their opponent(s). Our endorsement process is not taken lightly and we spend a great deal of time reviewing and evaluating an incumbent candidate’s voting record and leadership on animal bills. We also ask every candidate – both incumbents and first time office seekers – to complete our survey as the survey responses are critical in determining which candidates will receive our endorsement. Our survey queries candidates on key pieces of pending animal legislation, both the bills that are easily supported as well as those that may face opposition. We also ask candidates to tell us about themselves, the role of animals in their lives and their feelings about how animals should be treated. Past responses have been quite illuminating! All responses are kept strictly confidential, and allow us to evaluate the level of commitment a candidate has to helping protect Pennsylvania’s animals from cruel treatment. If you want your candidate to be considered for an endorsement please send them this announcement to get a jump on our endorsement process!

In a recent statewide poll, 86 percent of Pennsylvania voters polled support their legislators efforts to ensure humane treatment of animals. Our aim is to make sure that Pennsylvania voters who care about the treatment of animals know which candidates will support a humane agenda and deserve their vote at the polls!

* Candidates who took the survey before the Primary Election do not need to retake the survey unless your answers have changed.

 

Posted in 2014 Pennsylvania Election, Pennsylvania election, Pennsylvania Governor, Pennsylvania Politics

What Animal Shelters can do to Influence Policy

Guest blog by  Joe Geiger

Legitimate animal shelters do a great job when it comes to rescuing and caring for animals. But one of the most effective ways to protect animals is through policy. It is time for people who love animals to step up and engage the political process.

There are perceptions and realities that get in the way of animal lovers getting engaged. They may think: I am so small relative to the process – how could I possibly make a difference, as a 501 (c) (3) I don’t think I am permitted to get involved, the process is too complicated and I don’t know how.

Those are just reasons to not get involved. Every piece of social legislation passed in the United States has been the result of a passionate and caring person or persons getting involved in the process. The good news is that the law allows nonprofit organizations listed as charities to lobby.

So what can you do? First I think it important to say that you must be credible in your approach. Organizations bring out the most shocking and grotesque pictures to make a point.  Groups lobbying the cause can’t get their act together resulting in a confused message making it easy to get dismissed. Most legislators are animal lovers. Take advantage of that. You know more about your issues then they do. Where do you start?

Here is a top ten list:

1. Get to know your elected officials and establish a relationship with them before there is a crisis.
2. Learn a little about the legislative process – there are better times to break the ice – June is budget crunch time – this is not the right time.
3. Visit your elected officials in their home district offices – they are very distracted and busy when at the capitol.
4. Keep your communications concise, credible and have a call to action.
5. Not all elected officials are equal – know who chairs committees that address your issues as well as leadership – majority also matters but don’t ignore minority party officials.
6. Understand that the public policy process is never perfect – the outcomes are survivors of compromise – take what you can and build on it
7. Understand how much your initiatives will cost taxpayers or save tax payer dollars – government money is tight.
8. If you are representing a 501(c) (3), you are not permitted to engage in election activities – you must stay neutral in your organization approach.
9. The media can be a good ally – use them wisely.
10. Don’t embarrass a public official publicly – you need their support.

JoeJoe Geiger is the former executive director at the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations where he served as an effective public policy officer for 18 years.

 

 

For more information on effective lobbying, check out Citizen Lobbying Tips to Give Animals a Voice in Harrisburg  

Read about why social causes need political action committees: Making Animal Protection a Political Priority

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Animal shelters, Legislation, non profit lobbying

The Bogeyman Bill

Blog by Humane PA President, Elissa Katz

boogiemanImagine an activity that is so cruel and senseless that it has been widely condemned in newspaper editorials in every major region of our state – an activity that is considered so deplorable that it is opposed by an overwhelming majority of Pennsylvania residents, many of whom were shocked to learn that such an activity even existed. Now, imagine a bill that in a few short paragraphs would end this condemned activity, thereby sparing the suffering and death of 1000s of animals – a bill that was introduced over a year ago in our state Senate, with a record number of co-sponsors. Nonetheless the bill remains in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it was referred on February 14, 2013, being deprived of a Senate vote and ultimate passage. Such is the fate of SB 510, the bill to end live pigeon shoots.

If you are feeling outraged, you are not alone.

pigeonshootThe legislature’s failure to act on SB 510 is truly inexplicable. For decades, thousands of you have written or called your legislators asking for a vote and asking for pigeon shoots to be brought to an end. Yet, here we are, over two decades since the legislature has allowed a bill to the floor for a vote and over 15 months since the introduction this session with no vote on the legislative calendar or in sight. This is a legislature that is not listening to its constituents, and the cowardly avoidance by lawmakers who are afraid of some imaginary threat is deplorable. Live pigeon shoots are continuing and 1000s of birds are suffering as our legislature allows the cruelty to continue.  Pigeons may not evoke the warm, fuzzy feelings as puppies and kittens and dogs and cats but they are no less deserving of protection from cruelty.

I’d like to believe that, by and large, our legislature is composed of decent, compassionate people who are interested in doing the right thing. But our lawmakers’ collective inaction with regard to pigeon shoots undermines that belief. Pigeon shoot season will start in full swing again this fall and 1000s of birds will again suffer, if again our legislature does nothing. There are many difficult issues facing our legislature, but this is not one of them.  The fear of this bill is only in their minds -  a bogeyman bill that carries an imaginary threat which in no way threatens their jobs as evidenced by overwhelming public support.  Indeed, the plain language and simplicity of the bill makes legislative inaction all that more puzzling.

So, what can we do? Clearly, we need to ramp up the pressure and force the pigeon shoot issue front and center, giving our stagnant legislature no choice but to vote on SB 510 to end live pigeon shoots.  We are requesting that each  of you write a letter to your local newspaper demanding a vote on and passage of the pigeon shoot bill.  Please also contact your legislators requesting support of a vote on the bill to end live pigeon shoots and feel free to send them a link to the public poll to let them know they will be well-supported by doing the right thing.

We know that so many of you have raised your voices in the past, and feel as frustrated and outraged as we do by the ongoing legislative inaction – but we all must raise our voices again and again until this bill passes, and not allow our frustration and outrage to dampen our efforts. After all, if we don’t raise our voices, this cruelty will continue. And 1000s and 1000s of animals will continue to suffer and be slaughtered. And that will be the worst outrage of all.

katz_fullElissa B. Katz is the President of Humane PA and a partner in the law firm of Meranze, Katz, Gaudioso & Newlin, P.C. in Philadelphia. She is a regular volunteer with the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), assisting with cat care and adoption applications at an adoption site.  She is also a board member of The Humane League and Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.

Posted in Animal cruelty, Legislation, Pennsylvania Law and animals, Pennsylvania legislation, pigeon shoot | Tagged , , ,

Talk the Vote!

Blog by Humane PA President, Elissa Katz

primary3.jpgMay 20 is Primary Day, and as important as it is to get out and vote, it is just as important to get out and talk! Primary Day presents a wonderful opportunity to promote the humane treatment of animals as an important issue in public policy, and as an issue that candidates must consider as an integral part of their position platforms.  Every voting location comes with various campaign workers and volunteers handing out literature and making a last minute pitch to convince us, the voters, to press the lever for his or her candidate. Additionally, the candidates themselves are frequent visitors shaking hands and trying to win our votes.  And because they want something from us (our votes!) there are few better opportunities to let them know what we want – and expect – from them.

I have been making a list of questions I will pose to each and every person who seeks to hand me a piece of campaign literature before I enter the voting booth.

  • Does your candidate have a platform concerning issues relating to the humane treatment of animals? No? Very disappointing as these are issues which will make or break my vote!
  • Will your candidate fight to end live pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania?
  • Does your candidate support laws to ban the 24/7 tethering of dogs?
  • And how about puppy mills and animal fighting – will your candidate be a leader in cracking down on cruel puppy mills and animal fighting?
  • What about Sunday hunting – will your candidate support the current ban or seek to remove it, with the result that there is no day of the week where we can all enjoy the outdoors?
  • Will the candidate take my calls to discuss animal bills and support the anti-cruelty position when a bill that will affect animals suddenly moves?

My vote is not a given, it has to be earned. Having a strong position supporting the humane treatment of animals is the way to earn my vote and I intend to do a lot of talking on Primary Day to make sure that every candidate, volunteer and campaign worker knows so. This is our opportunity to put cruelty to animals front and center in the political arena.  And, for those who are uninformed about the issues, I will direct them to the Humane PA website.

So, before you head out to the polls on May 20, take a quick review of the Humane PA website for the most up to date information on pending animal related bills, check the list of endorsed candidates, take a big drink of water – and get ready to talk! We all can, and should, be friendly and talkative voters on behalf of the animals!

katz_fullElissa B. Katz is the President of Humane PA and a partner in the law firm of Meranze, Katz, Gaudioso & Newlin, P.C. in Philadelphia. She is a regular volunteer with the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), assisting with cat care and adoption applications at an adoption site.  She is also a board member of The Humane League and Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.

Posted in 2014 Pennsylvania Election, Pennsylvania election, Pennsylvania Governor, Pennsylvania Politics, Politics | Tagged , ,

Everything you Need to Make a Difference for Animals on Primary Election Day

Primary Elections – The Place for Power Politics

whooo

Primary elections can be the most exciting time of year for people who understand how the system works. Because many people choose to ignore primary elections, resulting in only about 1/3 of the voters taking part, a relatively small number of dedicated individuals can have a tremendous impact!

This is particularly true this year, where all legislative candidates are running in districts that have been reconfigured as a result of reapportionment. Many of these districts were also gerrymandered to make them safe seats for one party or the other. That means whoever is nominated in the primary election is most likely going to be the candidate elected in November. It also means that whoever is elected in November will most likely be able to serve until the district is again redrawn after the census of 2020.

Now is the time for those of us who believe in the compassionate treatment of animals to rally others to go to the polls on May 20th to select the candidates who most closely share and reflect our values. A concentrated effort to do so will multiply the impact we can have to a far greater degree than in the November election.

How do we know among a field of candidates which one may best reflect our values, you may ask? Humane PA has researched the candidates and offers recommendations to you.

Review the Humane PA 2014 Primary Endorsement list and rally your friends who support our views to vote for the Compassionate Candidates on May 20th!

Roy Afflerbach Voter resources: Find your polling place

 

In addition to being a co- founder and Treasurer of Humane PA PAC, Senator Roy C. Afflerbach, Ret. is founder and President of The Afflerbach Group, LLC.

Posted in 2014 Pennsylvania Election, Pennsylvania election, Pennsylvania Governor, Pennsylvania Politics | Tagged ,

Presenting Humane PA’s 2014 State Primary Endorsements!

Humane PA is pleased to present Humane PA’s 2014 Primary endorsements of candidates for Pennsylvania state offices in the upcoming Primary on May 20th.  endorsed

In a recent statewide poll, 86 percent of Pennsylvania voters polled support their legislator’s efforts to ensure humane treatment of animals. Our aim is to make sure that Pennsylvania voters who care about the treatment of animals know which candidates will support a humane agenda and deserve their vote at the polls!

How do we chose who to endorse?

Before we endorse candidates, we give them the opportunity to let us know where they stand on animal cruelty so we can measure their responses and commitment to stand strong for the humane treatment of animals against their opponent(s). Our endorsement process is not taken lightly and we spend a great deal of time reviewing and evaluating an incumbent candidate’s voting record and leadership on animal bills. Priority is always given to an incumbent with a perfect record – we stand by our friends, particularly those who are committed leaders in the fight against cruelty. We also ask every candidate – both incumbents and first time office seekers – to complete our endorsement survey as the survey responses are critical in determining which candidates will receive our endorsement. Our survey queries candidates on key pieces of pending animal legislation, both the bills that are easily supported as well as those that may face opposition. We also ask candidates to tell us about themselves, the role of animals in their lives and their feelings about how animals should be treated. If two non-incumbent candidates are equally qualified based on survey results, we conduct follow up calls, as well as consult with animal loving constituents in their districts who know them. Past responses have been quite illuminating! All responses are kept strictly confidential, and allow us to evaluate the level of commitment a candidate has to helping protect Pennsylvania’s animals from cruel treatment.

We are fortunate this election in that many races are between strong, humane oriented candidates. An example of one such race is the Democratic race for Governor. All four candidates had strong statements and we had difficulty choosing among them, so we asked our members to vote on the strongest statement and the clear frontrunner is Tom Wolf who came in with 65% of the vote.  The animals are also fortunate to have very strong humane candidates for Lieutenant Governor, making the endorsement process an agonizing pleasure, however Brad Koplinski has been a vocal and active leader on many issues, including tethering, edging out the others in the endorsement process.

Pennsylvania has closed primaries, meaning that you can only vote in your own party, so we are only endorsing in contested races, and we will be evaluating again in time for the November election. We did not endorse in races where candidates did not respond to the survey or where two new candidates appear equal on the issues. *Please note, as a registered state political action committee, we only issue endorsements of candidates for state offices and make no endorsements for federal offices.

Our goal is for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be a kinder place for animals and for our legislature to pass appropriate laws to protect animals and eliminate cruelty. Thus, we encourage those who care deeply about these issues to consider and be guided by our endorsements, and to support groundfloorcandidates who will support a humane agenda. We thank all of the candidates who took the time to complete our survey. Good luck to all of our Humane PA Endorsed Candidates!

 
2014 Primary Endorsements:   

 

 

Posted in 2014 Pennsylvania Election, Pennsylvania election, Pennsylvania Governor, Pennsylvania Politics, Political Action Committees, Politics | Tagged ,

Are you in?

VolunteerIt is National Volunteer Week, and Humane PA — and Pennsylvania’s animals — are so grateful for our amazing, dedicated volunteers ! We are especially inspired by the volunteers of Humane PA.  As an entirely volunteer-run humane political action committee (PAC), Humane PA could not be the effective political voice for animals that this group has become without volunteers who give their time to ensure that animals have a voice in the Pennsylvania legislature.

An important step in achieving our goal of eliminating cruelty to animals within Pennsylvania is to elect candidates who vote to support policies that protect animals. In addition to supporting animal shelters and rescues, it is critically important to get political for animals too. Shelters and rescues are prevented from engaging in election activities, but as a political action committee, Humane PA can work to elect humane-minded candidates to fill that void. Humane PA can help animals on a larger scale, by giving animals a voice in the legislature to get them the laws they need to be protected from cruelty.

And that is where the amazing volunteers at Humane PA come in! Imagine a future where candidates for office strive to win the support of a united voting bloc of animal advocates. Imagine the impact this can have on shutting down puppy mills, ending the 24/7 tethering of dogs, and protecting pigeons from inhumane and unnecessary shoots. This future is in our grasp if we work for it. And without a doubt, volunteer power is the key ingredient in our recipe for change. Volunteers fuel the engine in this effort, and they are the key to making Pennsylvania a friendlier state for animals.

making a difference (2)If you aren’t already volunteering for Humane PA, there are so many different ways you can get involved, whether it’s writing to your legislators, door-knocking for humane candidates, phone banking, envelope stuffing, or hosting a Pawlitics Happy Hour! Each person has skills to bring to the table. And when you volunteer, it is contagious. It creates a ripple effect of positive change that inspires others to volunteer as well. Volunteering doesn’t have to be time consuming or exhausting either. In fact, it can be a great way to spend time with your family and friends while working to elect humane candidates that will bring the reform animals so desperately need. So grab one of your friends, and sign up to volunteer for a humane candidate or Humane PA today!

Posted in Pennsylvania Politics, Political Action Committees, Volunteers

Join us on Humane Lobby Day!

lobby dayFor the past 7 years, citizen animal advocates have gathered in Harrisburg for an annual event called Pennsylvania Humane Lobby Day.  Participants at this one-day event, sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States, attend a training to learn about lobbying, as well as pending state-level humane legislation. Right after the training, advocates meet face-to-face with their legislators (or key staff members) to ask for their support on animal welfare measures.  This year’s Humane Lobby Day will be held on Monday, April 28th , followed by Humane PA’s Pawlitics Happy Hour (please register in advance) and lunch buffet where we can relax and get to know fellow advocates.   Humane Lobby Day organizers make appointments with legislators on participants’ behalf, so it is important to register for Humane Lobby Day well ahead of time.

Here are a few key reasons to join your fellow advocates in Harrisburg to support better laws for Pennsylvania’s animals:

Make a Real Difference for Animals

    • As a constituent, an in-person visit with your legislator is the most effective thing you can do to help secure the votes to pass animal friendly legislation.
    • The concerned voices of just a few constituents can be enough to sway a legislator’s vote on a particular issue.  Every advocate really does count!

First-time Citizen Lobbyist?  Have no fear! 

    • Meeting your lawmakers in person at the state capital might sound a bit intimidating if you’ve never lobbied before.  But no need to worry, because Humane Lobby Day is carefully tailored for all animal advocates – beginners included.  First time citizen lobbyists are most definitely welcome and needed at Pennsylvania Humane Lobby Day.
    • The pre-lobbying workshop will teach you about selected humane legislation and how to communicate effectively with your legislators.  The event organizers will provide you with all the tools necessary to be a great citizen lobbyist – all you need to bring is your care and concern for animal welfare.
    • Don’t worry, you won’t be alone:  all constituents for a given legislator will have the same appointment time, and will lobby as a group.
    • As a constituent, you will be a respected guest in your legislator’s office, and will be treated with courtesy, regardless of the lawmaker’s views on animal protection issues.

 It’s Fun!

    • Meet animal advocates from all over the state.
    • Enjoy the camaraderie of working together with other humane-minded Pennsylvanians to give animals a voice.  Come to the state capital, and experience the strength in our numbers firsthand – it’s a great feeling.

Humane Lobby Day only comes once a year, and this is a golden opportunity to show your state lawmakers how much Pennsylvanians care about animal welfare.  This year’s lobby day is shaping up to be the biggest and best yet, with more people already registered than ever before – so don’t be left out! Join your fellow citizen advocates in Harrisburg on April 28, and take a stand for animals – you’ll be so glad that you did.

Haley Courville Photo for Blog Post (3)Haley Courville is a member of the Florida Bar and has been an active volunteer with Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida, Inc. since 2009.  She has previously served as a volunteer legislative assistant in the State Affairs department of The Humane Society of the United States  and is currently a volunteer intern with Humane PA.  

Posted in Animal Law, Legislation, Pennsylvania legislation

Vote for your Favorite Gubernatorial Animal Policy

votegubWe want to thank the four Democratic contenders in Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race who issued  strong position statements on animal policies!

We are asking Pennsylvanians to rate the statements in order to gauge  which position statement our members think is the strongest.

The candidates who have posted position statements on animals so far are: Tom Wolf , Rob McCordKatie McGinty and Allyson Schwartz.*

Please read each hyper-linked statement below and then vote for which one you think is the strongest:

Please vote here for which statement you like best.

Thank you for participating in Humane PA’s  opinion survey and as always, thank you for giving animals a political voice in Pennsylvania.

schwartz1wolfgov

 mcginty2Mccordstatement

 

Posted in 2014 Pennsylvania Election, Pennsylvania election, Pennsylvania Governor, Pennsylvania Politics, Political Action Committees | Tagged ,