Without a doubt, one of the costliest expenditures an affiliate society might incur is retaining a lobbyist. It can also be one of the best investments — if you’ve done your homework in selecting and educating the person who will be representing your affiliate society in political activities at the state capital.

Many discussions about key issues and the timing of activities during the legislative process are conducted between lobbyists. The affiliate society should have a level of trust in the lobbyist your society retains that she or he will act in the best interests of all radiologic technologists and the state society.

The ideas listed below relate to hiring a lobbyist for issues related to licensure bills; however, the same concepts apply to lobbyists you are hiring to secure favorable legislation, represent the association in the health care arena, defeat objectionable legislation and monitor legislative or regulatory activity. Do your groundwork, interview potential candidates, agree on expectations and educate lobbyists on your organization's positions and tolerance points.

Set the groundwork

  • Contact the leadership of other allied health organizations and find out who could be an effective lobbyist to represent your state society. An effective and influential lobbyist is critical in the legislative process, since he or she has access to the senators and representatives that an ordinary citizen does not have, plus knowledge of how the legislative system works and of members who could positively affect your bill.
  • Request a client and reference list from potential lobbyist candidates. Who are the lobbyist’s other clients? Could there be possible conflicts of interest?

Meet the lobbyist candidates

  • Discuss the proposed legislative issue and/or bill and negotiate the lobbyist’s retainer fee and additional charges.
  • Before you hire a lobbyist or representative, interview candidates extensively on their knowledge of health care issues and the profession, their ability to navigate the legislative and regulatory process, their understanding of the current political climate in your state and whether their contacts and sphere of influence are applicable to your licensure initiative.
  • Provide your lobbyist with a realistic impression of state society support and opposition and a history of prior licensure attempts and resources. Keep in constant contact (daily or weekly scheduled communications) and don’t be shy in offering guidance and direction.
  • Make sure your lobbyist/representative has background knowledge of radiologic technology.
  • Make the focus of your campaign quality care and protection for radiation hazards for all patients. The goal should be helping and protecting the public (patients), not socioeconomic gain for the practitioner (radiologic technologists).
  • How will the lobbyist be paid — retainer, billable hours or retainer for a fixed number of billable hours?
  • What expenses does the lobbyist expect to be reimbursed for?
  • The lobbyist should provide periodic reports on his or her activities on your behalf, preferably when submitting his or her bill.
  • Who will the lobbyist report to on a regular basis and what is the reporting schedule? Optimally the lobbyist will report to one specific person; however he or she should be expected to give a verbal report to the board or assembled membership as needed. During the session, regular, if not daily, reports should be provided.

Expectations to consider

  • What support does the lobbyist expect from the association membership, such as: grass-roots action, member testimony or personal contact with legislators?
  • Will the lobbyist represent the association before the executive branch agencies in addition to the legislature?
  • The association and the lobbyist should establish an annual performance review after the end of the legislative session to assess the work of the lobbyist, evaluate the results and gain insight about the lobbyist’s experiences in representing the association.
  • Approximately four months before the legislative session begins, meet with your lobbyist and plan a legislative strategy. Determine how best to mobilize the state affiliate society membership prior to the beginning of the legislative session.
  • Your lobbyist should provide direction on when support and communication from affiliate members is most needed.

Once you’ve hired the lobbyist, you might:

  • Have the lobbyist obtain a directory of senators and representatives that lists district office address, phone and fax numbers, and capitol address, phone and fax numbers. Distribute these directories to the contacts in each hospital.  It is very important for radiologic technologists to contact their respective legislators supporting the licensure bill.
  • Direct your lobbyist to contact state radiology associations, state medical associations, state health care associations and state hospital associations to review the bill and secure their support. By forming coalitions with other medical groups, it is easier to reach more legislators, present a united front and lessen opposition.
  • Have your lobbyist contact appropriate personnel in the state department of professional regulation and have them review the bill and offer suggestions. By doing preliminary work, support from the department of professional regulation will be helpful when providing testimony before legislative committees.

If your affiliate is considering hiring a lobbyist, look over a sample Request for Proposal for ideas on what to consider asking and the information lobbyist candidates should be willing to provide.