We know the process.
We know the rules. We know when to jump in and when to jump out to win.
We know how to most effectively use the legislative process to our client’s advantage. We know whom to engage and we know whom to watch. Our experience allows us to anticipate the direction of a policy decision affording us the opportunity to make quick decisions in a fast moving legislative process.
Capitol Solutions has successfully managed the full range of legislative initiatives on behalf of its myriad of clients over its 20-year experience. From the most complex, statewide public policy issues, like statewide transportation funding, and politically difficult expansions of existing economic development programs to straightforward and bi-partisan policy modifications, Capitol Solutions understands the complexities and nuances of the legislative process, how each client objective should be achieved, and layers on top of it a tenacity and competitive spirit which accounts for our exceptionally high degree of success.
Case Study 1: Expanding the Regional Tourism Act
A recent example of our success and capabilities to navigate a complex, politically difficult issue through the state legislative process is our recent work on behalf of Sterling Ranch and Douglas County. On behalf of Douglas County and Sterling Ranch, a recently approved master planned community in Douglas County, Capitol Solutions successfully navigated legislation through the state legislature in 2012 despite significant hurdles but demonstrating Capitol Solutions strength in legislative strategy, depth of relationships and incorporation of flexible and critical messaging. Tasked with the objective of expanding the scope of the Regional Tourism Act, Capitol Solutions led a team of 6 lobbyists and similarly aligned interests to pass legislation to afford Colorado counties and municipalities greater opportunity to have a regional tourism project approved by the state of Colorado for bonding authority to finance the complex projects. Capitol Solutions faced significant opposition from anti-economic development interests in both the House and the Senate. Calling upon its relationships with leadership, Capitol Solutions pulled bi-partisan support from the Senate and passed the bill on a 21-14 vote with leadership on both sides of the aisle supporting the legislation. On the House side, messaging was shifted to respond to growing opposition to the legislation, a tactic only employed by those most adept in the legislative process. The message shift proved invaluable to secure House Leadership support for the job-creating proposal. A tighter margin of 35-30 passed the bill.
Case Study #2: The Software Tax
Faced with the most difficult state budget in decades, in 2010, the Colorado Legislature set its sights upon the technology industry as a means to generate additional revenues for the state of Colorado. CTA (then CSIA) turned to Capitol Solutions to minimize the effect of the legislative proposal to impose a new tax upon software downloads.
Capitol Solutions quickly secured a seat at the Governor’s table and positioned CSIA as the organization with whom they should negotiate the terms of the proposal. Under our guidance, CSIA maintained a strong opposition position, and utilized tactics to convey such position, which provided them the leverage necessary to negotiate terms dramatically more favorable to the industry than the original proposal.
Both innovative and classic lobbying tactics were developed and implemented to convey a strong presence on the issue and as an industry critical to the economy of Colorado.
Innovative – Social Media
Tapping into the soul of the technology industry, Capitol Solutions led a grass-roots public relations effort through social media to energize the industry and to communicate the industry position through a means comfortable to the industry. More importantly, recognizing that legislators are inundated with emails and calls daily on a myriad of issues, we utilized an uncluttered channel of communication to which legislators were very responsive.
Innovative – ValuesDossier
Understanding the values one brings to their decisions and knowing the right language to utilize to effectively speak to ones values is a strength of Capitol Solutions. Through our ValuesDossier™ project noted above, Capitol Solutions utilized this unique and innovative tool to speak to the heart and values of decision makers on the issue of taxing software downloads. In so doing, we moved votes and the minds of decision makers.
Classic Tactics with a Twist
Direct lobbying, grassroots mobilization, effective paper communications are all classic government relations tactics we use, and were used, in the case of CSIA. But we add our own innovation to the effort.
Classic - CapWiz
Mobilizing the members of the CSIA was made easier through our establishment of an online advocacy mobilization platform called CapWiz. Only a handful of organizations use similar technology to communicate to decision makers. In addition to our social media tactic, we used classic techniques, made possible through CapWiz, to communicate our position and concerns to legislators. Capitol Solutions crafted the messaging, talking points and determined the targeted and key legislators who were to be recipients of the message. Through the use of the technology, over 1000 “touches” were made to decision makers.
CLASSIC - CHAPTER POSITION PAPERS
The utilization of position papers is a classic tactic in the lobbying realm. Capitol Solutions put its own twist on the traditional one-pager and conveyed our multi-faceted position and arguments against the bill provisions through a story told in six Chapters. Over the course of an hour, we issued the six half-page “HB 1192 - The Whole Story” chapters on the floor of the House. After the first two were dropped, the buzz created in on the floor of the House achieved the objective of assuring attention was being paid and each subsequent chapter was eagerly anticipated.
CLASSIC - COMMITTEE TESTIMONY
In every case of opposing or supporting legislation, committee testimony is a critical opportunity to convey the client position. Capitol Solutions coordinated the testimony of 10 industry leaders in both the House and the Senate. Rather than just utilizing the committee process to convey our message, Capitol Solutions’ twist was to get the Department of Revenue on record on critical issues in which they would later be held accountable during the regulatory process. In so doing, we asked our supporters on the committee to ask very specific and pointed questions which we were, in fact, able to utilize during the regulatory hearings. Despite a very tense, hotly debated issue, through our guidance, strategic counsel, and implementation of innovated and classic services and tactics, CSIA was successful in accomplishing their objective of minimizing the impacts of the proposal. We secured critical amendments to the bill from the Senate sponsor, Governor’s office and with bi-partisan support in the House and Senate of the CSIA position.
THE NEXT CHAPTER
As a result of our active efforts in 2010 in building a solid presence for the Colorado Technology Association (then CSIA), and waking the sleeping giant, we crafted a successful strategy (see attachment) to repeal the Software Tax the very next year, the only one of the “dirty dozen” bills to be repealed.