You're "lobbyist?" So, what do you do, anyway? From strength in numbers to targeted outreach, IFA promotes franchising industry's interests.Within the nation's capital, a robust subculture of political enthusiasts, politicians, lobbyists, interest groups and political commentators is thriving.
The International Franchise Association, headquartered in Washington, D.C., has made its government relations efforts a top priority, staffing the department with three lobbyists and a political affairs Political Affairs has several meanings:
Someone from outside the political jungle may inquire as to how the work is conducted, and often IFA Immunofluorescent assay (IFA)
A blood test sometimes used to confirm ELISA results instead of using the Western blotting. In an IFA test, HIV antigen is mixed with a fluorescent compound and then with a sample of the patient's blood. struggles to provide the answers succinctly. As with most professions, one takes for granted that those whom the association represents already know how the work is undertaken.
An effective lobbyist is an educator. Every day, a member of Congress takes action on a breadth of topics, few of which may be within his expertise. Bringing data and experts to lawmakers to demonstrate the effects of their potential decisions is the role of a lobbyist. While IFA lobbies on behalf of its members, it also aims to educate and serve as a resource for its members because the most effective lobbyist is a constituent. A constituent can convey the same data as a lobbyist, but with an impact that only a voter has. For this reason, the association urges its members to contact their members of Congress on issues of importance and IFA provides the Web site www.franchisingvotes.com as an advocacy resource center. In addition to IFA-member grassroots action, the trade group hosts an annual legislative day on Capitol Hill, known as Franchise Appreciation Day. Association members are encouraged to join their industry peers for the Ninth Annual Franchise Appreciation Day Sept. 15-16.
IFA's lobbyists strive to maintain fairness and competitiveness in franchising. More specifically, they work with federal, state and local governments to uphold the IFA's mission: "To protect, enhance and promote franchising." As a business association, not a private firm, the mission, as well as those on whose behalf the association is working, remain constant. Unlike "hired guns Hired Guns is a computer role-playing game produced by DMA Design (distributed by Psygnosis) for the Amiga in 1993. The game is set in the year 2712, in which the player controls four mercenaries selected from a pool of twelve. " from private firms that take on different clients and represent different interests, IFA's steady promotion of the same cause, gives it a strong identity in Washington. With this identity, the association uses various forms of lobbying and advocacy to educate members of Congress.
One of these critical lobbying methods is forming coalitions. The association partners with other business-industry associations to form dozens of coalitions, each focused on one specific issue or set of issues. This allows IFA to use the strengths of its current lobbyists, while staying very active on all the issues of interest to our members. While the association uses other methods to further its policy objectives, this article will focus on a sampling of the coalitions it leads or with which it works.
Arbitration Fairness Act
IFA recently partnered with a group of businesses and national business organizations allied to oppose legislation titled the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2007, H.R. 3010/S. 1782. The bill would render pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses in consumer contracts unenforceable. Specifically, the legislation would amend the Federal Arbitration Act In United States law, the Federal Arbitration Act is a statute that provides for judicial facilitation of private dispute resolution through arbitration. It appears that the Federal Arbitration Act was intended to apply only in federal courts, but following a controversial Supreme to establish that agreements to arbitrate employment, consumer or franchise disputes will not be enforceable if they are entered before the actual dispute arises. IFA holds that this legislation is an unwarranted intrusion into the freedom of contract rights of private companies, and it unfairly voids specific and longstanding contract terms in existing agreements.
Coalition members and IFA lobbyists have been meeting with key congressional offices and organizing grassroots activity in opposition to the legislation, focusing on critical members of Congress, including the bill's sponsors, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson For the baseball player, see .
Henry “Hank” Johnson Jr. (born 1954) is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Georgia's Fourth Congressional District. The district is based in DeKalb County, a largely suburban county east of Atlanta. (D-Ga.), eight House Democrats, Sens. Russ Feingold Russell Dana "Russ" Feingold (born March 2, 1953) is an American politician from the U.S. state of Wisconsin. He has served as a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate and the junior Senator from Wisconsin since 1993. A recipient of the John F. (D-Wis.) and Richard Durbin Richard Joseph "Dick" Durbin, (born November 21 1944) is currently the senior United States Senator from Illinois and Democratic Whip, the second highest position in the party leadership in the Senate. (D-Ill.) and those members of Congress who do not yet have a stance on the bill.
Business Activity Taxes
In June, legislation was introduced by U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Michael Crapo (R-Idaho) to assist franchise companies and other businesses throughout the country in limiting audits and tax bills from states where they do not have any buildings, property or staff. The Business Activity Tax Simplification Act of 2007, S. 1726, seeks to clarify the intent of existing interstate commerce interstate commerce
In the U.S., any commercial transaction or traffic that crosses state boundaries or that involves more than one state. Government regulation of interstate commerce is founded on the commerce clause of the Constitution (Article I, section 8), which law by codifying the "physical presence" standard and eliminating confusion for state tax administrators and businesses alike because in recent years, some states have argued that the presence of intangible property intangible property n. items such as stock in a company which represent value but are not actual, tangible objects. in their jurisdiction may be subject to state income taxation. For franchising, this expanded definition of "substantial nexus" has opened the door for states to impose new taxes on the royalty income paid to the franchise system by franchisees located in a different state. IFA has endorsed the legislation and joined a coalition of corporations and business groups allied to urge Congress to clarify the patchwork of state laws and define, once and for all, substantial nexus. The coalition's first steps are to line up original co-sponsors of the bill in anticipation of its introduction in the House.
Last year, IFA and a number of allies in the business community launched a coalition to fight the Employee Free Choice Act, arguing that this radical legislation will undermine basic employee rights and open the door to coercive union organizing tactics. This bill is a threat for franchising and other service-sector interests, as it would substantially shorten the organizing process and compel unionization when a simple majority of employees publicly sign authorization cards. The bill would prohibit a private-ballot election, the standard for determining union representation since the 1940s. The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace has retained a media firm to help with communications and the coalition has raised more than $2 million from the business sector to fund message development and communications activities. IFA serves as a leader of this important coalition.
Death Tax Repeal
For years IFA has been a member of the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition, a group of large and small national, state and local associations and businesses that seek certainty in estate planning Estate Planning
The overall planning of a person's wealth, including the preparation of a will and the planning of taxes after the individual's death.
Contrary to popular belief, estate planning involves much more than preparing a will, and it is not only for the . The 2001 tax relief legislation phased out the "death tax" or the tax owed on an estate (including a family-owned business) by the estate's heir after the owner has died by the year 2010. Unless Congress acts to extend it, the Senate budget rules will bring the estate tax back to life in 2011, when it threatens inherited small businesses with up to a 55 percent tax on the accumulated estate. Full repeal of the death tax is especially important to small businesses because in many cases, upon the death of the owner, the beneficiaries are forced to sell the business to afford the tax. The bill would provide franchise-business owners with certainty when estate planning. IFA endorses full and permanent repeal of the death tax and supports efforts to lessen the burden of estate planning and the high level of estate tax on America's family businesses.
As always, health care is a major priority for IFA members. IFA partners with two different coalitions in advocating market-based initiatives that would increase access to affordable health care for franchises, particularly small businesses.
With health-care costs and premiums rising much faster than the rate of inflation or the rate of employee wages, IFA has long advocated for small-business health plan legislation. For years, IFA has been a steering committee steer·ing committee
A committee that sets agendas and schedules of business, as for a legislative body or other assemblage.
Noun member of the SBHP coalition representing more than 80 million employees and 12 million employers. The group represents small business and is the largest and only group working for more affordable and improved access to health care for small businesses. SBHP legislation would allow small businesses, such as most franchisees, to band together to create national pools, through which to access health-care coverage that is more affordable than that is presently available on a state-by-state basis. IFA believes SBHP legislation could be the solution to the small-business franchisee's difficulty in offering health-care benefits because it would allow franchisees in the same system to pool together across state lines, united by their system affiliation.
In addition, IFA is a member of the Coalition for Affordable Healthcare, a multi-industry diverse group of healthcare stakeholders, from industry to small business and everything in between. The group works to cover the uninsured through market-based initiatives.
Immigration Reform Immigration reform is the common term used in political discussions regarding changes to immigration policy. In a certain sense, reform can be general enough to include promoted, expanded, or open immigration, but in reality discussions of reform often deal with the aspect of
Immigration reform remains at the forefront of the IFA's legislative priorities, and IFA continues to serve as a steering committee member of the Essential Worker Immigration immigration, entrance of a person (an alien) into a new country for the purpose of establishing permanent residence. Motives for immigration, like those for migration generally, are often economic, although religious or political factors may be very important. Coalition. The coalition works with House and Senate leadership, as well as the Bush administration to fashion a comprehensive reform plan. The core principles that the association advocates include a plan that will strengthen our border security; ensure only those legally in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. get hired; create a dynamic "future flow" new worker visa program that provides for the legal and orderly admission of needed workers; and establish a practical solution to the issue of 12 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the United States that includes the notion of citizenship for those willing to earn the status. IFA also strongly urges that employer verification systems be practical and simple for smaller employers to utilize without burdensome administrative costs administrative costs,
n.pl the overhead expenses incurred in the operation of a dental benefits program, excluding costs of dental services provided. or hefty penalties.
Since the collapse of immigration legislation in the Senate in 2007, IFA and EWIC EWIC Essential Workers Immigration Coalition
EWIC Expeditionary Warfare Intelligence Course have been heavily engaged in discussions with the Department of Homeland Security Noun 1. Department of Homeland Security - the federal department that administers all matters relating to homeland security
executive department - a federal department in the executive branch of the government of the United States and congressional leaders on regulatory and legislative remedies to some of our immigration woes. In particular, DHS DHS Department of Homeland Security (USA)
DHS Department of Human Services
DHS Department of Health Services
DHS Demographic and Health Surveys
DHS Dirhams (Morocco national currency) issued a rule addressing an employer's obligations in response to receipt of a Social Security number mismatch notice (i.e. a "no match" letter) from the Social Security Administration. This new rule would dramatically impact millions of small employers and likely lead to the firing of legal employees who could not resolve "no match" letters within a short period of time.
In September, the IFA and others from the employer community including several EWIC members joined a lawsuit against DHS for failing to consider the affect of the new regulation on small businesses, as required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act The Regulatory Flexibility Act is perhaps the most comprehensive effort by the U.S. federal government to balance the social goals of federal regulations with the needs and capabilities of small businesses and other small entities in American society. . Subsequently, a federal judge in the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction A temporary order made by a court at the request of one party that prevents the other party from pursuing a particular course of conduct until the conclusion of a trial on the merits.
A preliminary injunction is regarded as extraordinary relief. to suspend the new rule until the court could fully consider the issue. This injunction is a substantial victory for the IFA and the employer community, and it will gain employers valuable time to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.
Lawsuit Abuse Reform: ADA Ada, city, United States
Ada (ā`ə), city (1990 pop. 15,820), seat of Pontotoc co., S central Okla.; inc. 1904. It is a large cattle market and the center of a rich oil and ranch area. , LARA LARA Land Access and Recreation Association (UK)
LARA Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2004
LARA Light Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft
LARA Lakeland Agricultural Research Association
LARA Labor Aerospace Research Agenda and Obesity
IFA supports several initiatives to free franchisees and franchisors from the burdens of frivolous lawsuits. As a part of the Litigation An action brought in court to enforce a particular right. The act or process of bringing a lawsuit in and of itself; a judicial contest; any dispute.
When a person begins a civil lawsuit, the person enters into a process called litigation. Fairness Campaign sponsored by the Institute for Legal Reform of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest not-for-profit federation of businesses, representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations in the United States. As of 2003, the chamber was comprised of 3000 state and local chambers and 830 business associations. , the association works with our allies in the business community to advocate on behalf of meaningful tort reform. For example, IFA has endorsed legislation to reform the Americans with Disabilities Act Americans with Disabilities Act, U.S. civil-rights law, enacted 1990, that forbids discrimination of various sorts against persons with physical or mental handicaps. to provide businesses with an opportunity to "cure" or correct any alleged ADA violations before civil lawsuits could be filed against them. In order to remove junk lawsuits and litigation tourism, IFA has also supported the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, which would impose mandatory sanctions on lawyers who file frivolous lawsuits and crack down on "forum shopping Forum shopping is the informal name given to the practice adopted by some litigants to get their legal case heard in the court thought most likely to provide a favorable judgment. ." And finally, IFA has long advocated the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act The Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act, also known as the Cheeseburger Bill, was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2004, but did not receive a Senate vote.
The bill was reintroduced in 2005 by Florida Republican Congressman Ric Keller. , which would prohibit frivolous lawsuits against food manufacturers, distributors or restaurants.
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Respect Act
In addition to formal coalitions that operate with a budget and a media plan, IFA also belongs to "ad hoc For this purpose. Meaning "to this" in Latin, it refers to dealing with special situations as they occur rather than functions that are repeated on a regular basis. See ad hoc query and ad hoc mode. " coalitions. The groups opposed to the two bills noted below are a good example of ad hoc coalitions.
IFA is strongly opposed to the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, H.R. 2831, which would increase employers' exposure to potentially frivolous litigation Frivolous litigation is a legal claim or defense presented even though the party and the party's legal counsel had reason to know that the claim or defense had no merit. A claim or defense may be frivolous because it had no underlying justification in fact, or because it was not for unlimited periods of time. By virtually eliminating any time limitations for claims of employment discrimination the bill would remove an important incentive to prompt surfacing and resolution of potential claims. In addition, the bill expands the range of potential claims and allows claims to be brought by family members as well as the employee. The bill passed the House in 2007, and IFA is working with a coalition of employer groups to stop this legislation in the Senate in 2008.
The Re-Empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Trade Workers Act, H.R. 1644/S. 969, was introduced this year to convert employee supervisors into rank-and-file employees subject to union organizing by changing the definition of "supervisor" in the National Labor Relations Act The National Labor Relations Act (or Wagner Act) is a 1935 United States federal law that protects the rights of most workers in the private sector to organize labor unions, to engage in collective bargaining, and to take part in strikes and other forms of concerted . The NLRA NLRA National Labor Relations Act
NLRA Northern Late-model Racing Association currently excludes "supervisors," meaning unions cannot require supervisors to be included in a bargaining unit. Supervisors do not have a protected right to promote unionization in the workplace, but a supervisor's conduct toward his or her subordinates can expose the employer to liability for unfair labor practices Conduct prohibited by federal law regulating relations between employers, employees, and labor organizations.
Before 1935 U.S. labor unions received little protection from the law. . The "RESPECT" Act would undermine the law's intended balance when Congress mandated that individuals who possess supervisory authority owe allegiance to management, not labor unions. IFA is closely monitoring the progress of this legislation and working with other employer groups to educate policymakers about the harm of this change in labor law labor law, legislation dealing with human beings in their capacity as workers or wage earners. The Industrial Revolution, by introducing the machine and factory production, greatly expanded the class of workers dependent on wages as their source of income. .
Travel Business Roundtable Business Roundtable (BRT), an association consisting of the chief executive officers of major U.S. corporations that was founded in 1972 through the merger of the three preexisting business organizations. and the Discover America Partnership
For several years, IFA has partnered with businesses and associations in the tourism industry to form the Travel Business Roundtable. Roundtable members represent a wide range of industries that work together to communicate trends and legislative activity that affect tourism, which in turn affects many service sectors, especially franchised business. Representing a host of industries with varied stakes in the tourism industry, IFA has a seat at the table to help influence these discussions.
In 2007, some members of the roundtable, including IFA, formed the Discover America Partnership. This group is working to strengthen America's image worldwide through coordinated communications and increase travel to the United States from abroad by enhancing the experience of foreign tourists in the nation. This would be accomplished by making the visa process more secure and more efficient. More information about the partnership can be found at www.poweroftravel.org.
Jessica Bonanno served as director of government relations of the International Franchise Association through 200Z She returned to Ohio to spend more time with her family. For more information about IFA government relations' agenda, visit that section of www.franchise.org.