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OSCPA defends the interests of Ohio CPAs: Governmental Affairs. Advocacy. Lobbying. No matter what you call it, from a membership association perspective, members rank it among the most important services OSCPA provides. It's also often among the most intangible at times, and the most misunderstood.

Though some members have stated in the past that they think OSCPA has no business working in the political arena, l hope you will give me a few moments to try and convince you otherwise by explaining just what the Society's governmental affairs activities involve.

Advocating, or lobbying, is the one thing that only OSCPA can do for you. The Ohio Society employs a lobbying team to represent your professional interests and those of your more than 23,000 fellow CPAs. No other organization is representing your interests as an Ohio CPA. We serve as your voice with members of the Ohio House and Senate, with Gov. Strickland and his administration, with the other statewide officials, and with the Accountancy Board of Ohio (ABO), carrying your message as developed by your peers on the Tax Legislation Policy Committee, Governmental Affairs Advisory Council and the Executive Board.

I know it's often hard to put your finger on the value of something that DIDN'T happen. For example, most Ohio CPAs in public practice probably don't think about not having to charge their clients a sales tax for professional services rendered. CPAs in the business and industry sector probably don't think about how they aren't paying an additional 6% or more in tax for auditing and consulting fees. A major reason neither has happened yet is because for years OSCPA lobbyists have been actively monitoring budget and other relevant hearings--even in the wee hours of the morning when such ideas often are raised. Ever wonder why landscapers have sales tax assessed on their services and you don't? They learned the hard way what can happen when you don't have a lobbyist at the Statehouse protecting your interests.

We are constantly monitoring activities at the Statehouse, and regularly evaluate hundreds of bills introduced during each legislative session to see how they might affect you. Have you had a chance to check out the "status sheet" we maintain on bills of interest? It's under the Advocacy tab at www.ohioscpa.com. We spend countless hours researching relevant issues, meeting with legislators and monitoring happenings in other states to see if there is something beneficial that Ohio should pursue--or just as important, keep from occurring. (Despite what the media would have you believe, 99.9% of these meetings take place in stuffy meeting rooms or noisy hallways, not over lunch or dinner, and certainly not on a golf course.) These past few months, we've dedicated much time and attention to helping key legislators understand the profession's concerns on budget-related matters.

We also partner with other interest groups when it's beneficial to you. For example, OSCPA led a coalition of over 200 organizations a few years ago to secure proportionate liability, thereby helping protect you from abusive lawsuits. Since then, we've been monitoring the new tort laws as they work through court challenges, filing supportive amicus briefs when appropriate.

Another benefit of OSCPA advocacy is red tape reduction. We work hard to establish strong, trust-based relationships with elected officials and regulators. Often, these relationships begin with our endorsement process. Through intensive interviews with prospective candidates, OSCPA's member-led Endorsement Committee gains perspective on each candidate's position and they, in turn, gain an understanding of OSCPA and the concerns of the accounting profession. Through the Ohio CPA/PAC, the Society supports the election of preferred candidates and helps promote understanding. The benefit to you? OSCPA helps pro-business government officials make better decisions on matters affecting you. These relationships also help OSCPA get answers to your questions and help resolve problems you may encounter with a state agency.

Whether you want to be involved in the world of politics or not, you will always be affected by the results. You can be sure those on the opposite side of your views are speaking up. OSCPA is here to push back on your behalf. We value your membership ... and hope you will find value in OSCPA's efforts to promote and protect your professional interests.

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By Barbara Benton, CAE
COPYRIGHT 2009 Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:Inside THE STATEHOUSE
Author:Benton, Barbara
Publication:Catalyst (Dublin, Ohio)
Date:Jul 1, 2009
Words:669
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