Roger Niello

I’m Returning to the Capitol – with the Chamber

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be returning to the State Legislature next month. As part of our Chamber’s State Legislative Summit March 1, that is.

While in elected office I often spoke of the need for business people to lobby their government. I call it The Business Imperative. For self interest, for sure, it is important for business to advocate for business friendly policies.

But I find that, of all special interests, business people have the broadest public policy interest. On behalf of not just their business’ success, but also their personal quality of life as well as that of their employees, businesses are interested not just in prudent regulatory policies, but also a broad array of public policies that contribute to general quality of life, like quality education, clean water and air, parks and recreation, etc.

Also from my experience in elected office, I find the task is larger than just supporting or opposing bills. The real challenge is in influencing opinions and attitudes.

On that score one need look no further than the stories about the recent announcement of the departure of Waste Connections from Folsom to Texas and the public reaction of a couple of local members of the Legislature. As our new Board Chair John Frisch pointed out in his column last month, the not unreasonable criticisms of California’s regulatory environment by Founder and CEO Ron Middlestadt were met with sharp accusations of disingenuousness. These two local Legislators declared that Waste Connections made so much money that they really had no right to complain. Their comments were the rhetorical equivalent of “good riddance”. These reports shed a rude light on the absolute disconnect between the attitudes toward business of some of our elected policy makers and the reality of the regulatory burdens of our state.

To repeat, simply advocating positions on individual bills is not enough. We must try to influence opinions and change attitudes. This is important stuff and the business community absolutely must be part of the public policy setting process.

Come join us and help this year’s State Legislative Summit make a real difference.

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