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“Ethics is its own reward.”* Paul Hallman

State Government Affairs professionals, as we all do in our professional and personal lives, make many momentary acquaintances of mutual convenience. Among many acquaintances, we also make a few real friends. Paul Hallman, principal (today retired), MultiState Associates, started professionally as an acquaintance of convenience – a consultant – but over the years proved himself a friend.

In this post, I’ll overview what Paul and MultiState did for my principals’ successful state-federal lobbying campaign. A later post will discuss how Paul later helped me as a friend.

I met Paul while working as an association legislative chair within a broader industry coalition. We were lobbying to reverse trending, product-threatening state legislation. With advice from a Washington, DC specialty law firm, the coalition initiated a campaign that created:

  • A consumer-funded, state-friendly, association-run national extended producer responsibility (ERP)[1] program to mitigate the environmental problem states were trying to solve.[2]  This “belly up to the bar”[3] approach set the foundation for effective lobbying, state and federal.[4]
  • State lobbying team
  • Federal lobbying team

MultiState contractors teamed with coalition-member in-house staff to achieve industry-favorable legislation or policy. They succeeded even with corporate-hostile jurisdictions like California, Oregon, Maryland, and (at that time) Iowa and Wisconsin. Paul regularly met with our association legislative committee, including advising us when a bill was “light lifting” and we could lobby it without contractor support.

The state team reversed the trend in legislatively “green fields” states, but repealing existing state laws would be too much of a political lift.[5] Accordingly, our federal lobbying team – contractors and member in-house lobbyists – as the state team lobbied, simultaneously advocated for federal preemption of existing state laws and a national legislative (and of course ultimately USEPA administrative) regulatory environment under which spent products could be managed thereby freeing new products to be sold.

Each additional favorable state action – either to enact or refuse to enact onerous legislation – influenced that state’s federal lawmakers to support our federal bill, further propelling the federal team’s success.

Industry ERP and effective state lobbying influenced Congress to enact – even against USEPA opposition – a federal regulatory scheme that improved the environment and kept products in the marketplace.[6] And successful state lobbying reduced to 6½ years the expected ten years (rule of thumb average at the time) required for a federal law to reach enactment.

Voluntary ERP, member in-house lobbyist-MultiState collaboration, in-house lobbyist-federal lobbyist collaboration boosted by state lobbying success, simultaneously working state capitols and Congress, together benefitted the environment and extended the marketability of important consumer products.

Upon enactment, the coalition and member companies distributed congratulations, plaques, bonuses, promotions, and framed facsimiles of the legislation. Shortly thereafter, I was laid off in a corporate takeover.

No more was I legislative counsel to a household named corporation, nor chair of a legislative committee that implemented a successful national lobbying campaign, nor part of an association that hires MultiState lobbyists. It was during that bleak season that Paul proved himself as a friend by helping me launch a new lobbying-related career lecturing and writing practice manuals on state lobbying, legislative and administrative.

How he helped will be the subject of a future post. (Teaser: his help led to me lecturing at Harvard.)

Endnotes

* Paul said this to me when I was a new lobbyist, oh so many years ago.

[1] “Product Stewardship and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR),” CalRecycle (accessed August 18, 2022) https://calrecycle.ca.gov/epr/

[2] The environmental problem was real. Toxic metals from certain batteries would or could contaminate the solid waste stream which was a potentially acute problem for municipal incinerators.

[3]  “To commit oneself to a challenge or task; to accept a responsibility; to acknowledge a fact.” Wiktionary. One of our coalition’s original protagonists regularly used this term arguing for voluntary corporate participation.

[4] I say this from having personally lobbied the issue in CA, MI, MN, IA, OR, WI, Congress, Canada, etc., and as legislative chair having worked with MultiState lobbyists in other states.

[5] For example, Minnesota, Vermont, and New Jersey to name a few

[6] Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act Pl 104-142 Our coalition partner ceased manufacturing its now federally regulated product.

 

 

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