3/14/2012 12:23 PM
How can they not know?
I kept asking myself and others in my group that question as we called on Congressional Representatives and Senators recently.
I attended the AH&LA Legislative Action Summit recently, along with about 250 other lodging industry folks, including about 30 of our Owners Association members. We spent a full day preparing ourselves with issues briefings, panel discussions, and presentations from members of congress about the critical issues we agreed to address: visas and visa waivers, labor regulations, OTA taxes, and of course, our most immediate challenge, compliance with the ADA regulations, particularly pool lifts. After that, we were briefed on how to conduct our Hill visits the next day to get maximum advantage of our time with legislators and their staffs. Each one of us came to town with commitment and energy and then became “coached” to be the voice of our industry.
I witnessed again that we can be heard in Washington—but we must have lots of voices delivering the same message. I am still amazed that in office after office on the Hill, we encountered a total lack of awareness about the impossible compliance burdens we face regarding the pool lift regulations. Not one of our groups reported that they had called on a legislative office and the elected official or staff was fully aware of the costs, liability, and product availability issues hindering timely compliance with the latest ADA regulations. Nor were they aware that the DOJ had been non-responsive to industry’s repeated requests for clarification until just six weeks before the compliance deadline.
We got their attention, and we got commitments from elected officials to act. Both House and Senate leaders agreed to sponsor a letter requesting their colleagues to seek extension of the deadline so that the regulation could be reviewed. AH&LA began working the same day with the appropriate staffs on the Hill to get that action moving forward, and we’re all hopeful that it will result in some relief for all of us. We may not see an immediate resolution, but it is a first step, and I’m proud of the group that got it moving it forward.
Friends, the days are gone of depending on others to educate officials for us. We need each and every one of us to get to know our local and state legislators. Meet them, invite them to visit your hotel, attend events where you can shake their hands and introduce yourself. Hey, we are hospitality people. Just do the job you do every day for your customers! I saw first-hand the power we have when we can put a face to the issue and deliver a personal message about the impact to our businesses.
If you’ve never attended the Legislative Action Summit, please plan to attend next year. In the meantime, help us raise the visibility of our industry to the level we deserve by contributing to INN PAC, our Association’s PAC. 100% of all contributions go to supporting legislators who respond to our industry. The more people we can say we represent, the stronger the message we send. You can find information for making your contribution here.
We’ll be working with IHG closely over the next few months to develop programs and resources to raise our profile on Capitol Hill. With regard to our voice in government, IHG “gets it” and is our valuable partner, compounding our efforts on the Hill. If you’re interested in being part of our government affairs programs, please send me a note at email@example.com.
View photos for this year’s Legislative Action Summit and the Owners Association events held in conjunction with it here.
Read the latest update on the ADA Pool Lift issue here:
ADA Advisory DOJ Reaffirms Guidance on Pool lifts 3.13.12 .pdf