Once a year, homeowners and individuals who represent many facets of the HOA industry travel to Sacramento for Legislative Day at the Capitol. The goal is to meet with legislators and their staff to discuss the significant impact selected bills being considered by members of the Senate and Assembly will have on all homeowners living in Common Interest Developments in California. This year’s day at the Capitol provided a very valuable experience to see first-hand how we can affect legislation. I am actively involved in several CAI chapters including Inland Empire, San Diego and Coachella Valley. The reason I was in Sacramento is because I serve as Chair of the Coachella Valley Chapter’s CLAC Legislative Support Committee (LSC).
While I had a cursory knowledge of current legislation, I was surprised by what I didn’t know. Prior to Legislative Day itself, attendees participated in an entire day of education and preparation sessions which armed us with the ability to speak intelligently about the bills when meeting with legislators the next day at the Capitol building.
Day 1 – Education
As Chair of CAI-CV’s CLAC LSC, I had a fair amount of knowledge of the bills introduced this year that would affect homeowners associations. I knew a little bit about a bill becoming a law and I also had general understanding of the impact case law has in the courts. Our sessions began with “How a Bill Become a Law.” This session walked us through how the bills pass from the Assembly to the Senate and back. This session laid the groundwork so we could understand how exactly our lobbying efforts fit into the entire process. Another notable session was learning about specific case law and how this influences future CID court cases and legislation. We wrapped up the full-day of sessions with Louie Brown introducing the bills CLAC has been watching and why. This was a preliminary discussion prior to the instruction we would receive the next day before visiting legislative offices. The education I received brought clarity about the bills and allowed me to view the overall legislative process. It was a great day and I was prepared and full of anticipation about our trip to the Capitol.
Day 2 – Legislative Day at the Capitol
The big day arrived and began with a bill briefing from outstanding keynote speakers. It was in this session that we were educated even further on the details of the bills CLAC was supporting and opposing. Not only did we receive direction from Louis Brown but we heard from various CLAC Executive Board Members. We received handouts with the pros and cons for each of the bills, written in laymen’s terms. We were given a very clear understanding of what to expect once at the Capitol and how to handle the discussions with the legislators and their staff. In addition to the bill briefing, we also heard from industry leaders on the state of our industry. This was valuable information that we could share in our meetings across the street to the Capitol. We also enjoyed hearing from Assemblyman Phillip Chen, who authored AB 731, one of the bills CLAC was supporting and received an inspirational story about his life and his journey into becoming a public servant. As we organized to walk to the Capitol, we were arranged into 14 subgroups based upon where we live in California. This was done so we would be talking with our own representatives. Each group had a team leader experienced in meeting with legislators and we were armed with our talking points, hand-outs and summary letter from the CLAC executive team to leave with the legislator and his/her staff. We found the legislators and their aides to be very receptive of our visits.
I left Sacramento feeling as if I personally had assisted in a great team effort to influence legislation. I learned that the laws enacted by our legislators have an incredible financial impact on homeowners. To know that we could play a role in educating legislators and impacting their decisions was incredibly rewarding. I cannot say enough about the tireless effort on the part of CLAC, both through its staff, advocate and executive team to prepare all of the attendees for this experience. Without a doubt, I will be attending next year and will be sure to let every board member, homeowner, and CID professional know why they should also participate in this highly-impactful effort.
Sue Anderson is the Regional Director of Business Development at the law firm Adams Stirling PLC. Adams Stirling is dedicated solely to the community association industry. You can reach Sue at (310) 945-0280 or sue@AdamsStirling.com.