As we begin a new year, Washington is witnessing another electorally mandated change. More than 100 new members of Congress arrive and begin shifting from campaign speeches to actual governing. For the next few weeks, the freshman class of lawmakers will learn the intricate system of Washington— and fortunately for the hospitality industry, the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s (AH&LA) Legislative Action Summit (LAS), March 15-16, falls during this critical time.
Due to a general sentiment of discontent across the country, the 112th Congress will feature a strong sense of purpose. The new lawmakers feel they were given a directive from voters to limit the role of government, get the economy back on track and make changes in Washington. These members are young, new to Washington, and motivated to push back against an “over-reach” by government, with legislation such as healthcare reform serving as a touchstone issue to drive change.
So despite the uncertainty of a divided Congress, members will focus on creating specific legislation and making tough decisions. This presents an exceptional set of circumstances in which to demonstrate our case. The time to affect both general perception of the lodging industry and suggest constructive legislative action for Congress is now.
AH&LA’s 2011 LAS becomes imperative from an agenda setting standpoint. We have a unique opportunity to help shape Congressional priorities during this critical time. Lawmakers are more willing than ever to listen to what we, a top 10 industry in 49 out of 50 states, have to say. It is imperative that we communicate our role in providing the nation with $704 billion in sales, $113 billion in tax revenue, and 7.4 million jobs. And with members up for re-election in 2012 witnessing a significant number of colleagues become former colleagues last November, our support becomes even more crucial.
The power of LAS lies in how constituents, actual voters from the Congress members’ community, sit down and explain issues face-to-face. These meetings, where hoteliers can explain issues in terms that matter to politicians—jobs, local tax revenue, the dollar line cost of legislation— end up making the greatest impact. It also creates a relationship that the industry can call on in the future.
In addition to these critical meetings, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) have been invited to share their perspectives on the 112th Congress. Our CEO panel featuring Stephen Bartolin Jr. of The Broadmoor Hotel, Nancy Johnson of Carlson Hotels Worldwide, and Arne Sorenson of Marriott International, will also discuss how upcoming legislation affects the industry.
Decisions made in the new Congress will have long-term consequences for the health and viability of our industry, small business and franchisees, and our millions of employees. While it is difficult to take time out of our busy schedules, LAS is a unique opportunity to have an impact when it is needed most—now. Join AH&LA and your fellow hoteliers on Capitol Hill this March to make your voice heard and help shape the legislative agenda.
Visit www.ahla.com/LAS for more information and to register.