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What it takes: making a difference in the profession--together.

CalCPA has a history of success in the California Legislature. With the support of a committed membership and dedicated professional staff, CalCPA is a well-respected organization in Sacramento.

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Our goal is to pursue legislation that will enhance public protection and the profession (peer review, conformity with national licensing standards for continuing education and entry level education, state and federal tax conformity, etc.) while also defeating or mitigating legislation that is damaging to taxpayers, California's business climate and the profession.

CalCPA sponsored three bills in 2009 that:

* Restored taxpayer privilege for clients of CPAs and enrolled agents.

* Conformed CPA licensing standards to the national level, thereby allowing existing California CPAs to participate in interstate mobility.

* Required CPAs with inactive licenses to disclose that fact when using the CPA designation.

Additionally, CalCPA:

* Successfully defended the profession in Capitol hearings on the role of the CPA in the economic downturn.

* Resisted attempts to impose a sales tax on professional accounting services that would have placed the profession at a competitive disadvantage compared to unlicensed practitioners.

* Defeated numerous tax bills that would have hurt both the profession and the taxpaying public.

CalCPA's efforts over the years have strengthened the profession in the public's eyes and ensured that CPAs were competing on a level playing field. This has resulted in CPAs and CPA firms conducting successful and profitable businesses without having to deal with over-regulation and unfair competition. This continues to be done through proactive initiatives at all levels.

The Secret to Our Success: Relationships

The key to last year's success was grassroots activism. CPAs and students met with virtually every member of the California Legislature to discuss the importance of the CPA-sponsored legislation. More than 200 students and CPAs visited Sacramento for CPA Day at the Capitol and discussed the initiatives with legislators and legislative staff.

CalCPA is now launching an important initiative to grow its grassroots program: Each chapter has a Grassroots Government Relations Committee charged with identifying CPAs that already know legislators or candidates, or would be willing to get to know their legislators.

These volunteer members will occasionally meet with candidates and legislators, along with other chapter members, to get acquainted and help put a face on the profession. Additionally, these CPAs will be asked to respond to action alerts by sending two or three letters or e-mails a year in support of CalCPA professional issues. The volunteers also will participate in our annual CPA Day at the Capitol in Sacramento, which will be held Wednesday, Jan. 19.

In this era of term limits, relationships are the key to success in the Legislative and regulatory arenas.

If you know a legislator or want to volunteer, contact your chapter's program associate or e-mail cpalobby@calcpa.org. Training will be provided.

Dollars and Sense Paying Off

Another critical element in CalCPA's legislative success has been providing Dollars and Sense workshops to community groups, and working with legislators to help them provide similar events for their constituents.

This has been a well-received program that has allowed the profession to provide an important community service, while strengthening relationships with decision makers and legislators.

Every CPA participating in these events is creating positive relationships and opinion capital for the profession. And we're seeing it paying dividends.

It is an election year, and every candidate or legislator is looking to connect with voters. It has become apparent that the old ways won't work in a Legislature with 30 percent turnover every election. We need now, more than ever, to formalize and enhance our identification and recruitment of volunteers who are willing to step up and make a difference for themselves--and the profession.

We hope to build on CalCPA's recent success, which was made possible in large part by the presence of two CPAs in the Assembly: Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) and Roger Niello (R-Sacramento).

Niello is leaving the Assembly in December, but he may be running for the State Senate this year due to the recent death of a Sen. Dave Cox, (R-Fair Oaks). Having CPAs in the Legislature has been beneficial because they understand complex business issues and the CPA profession. We need more CPAs in the Legislature and would encourage any CPA with a history of local involvement and community service to consider running for office.

Today's legislative environment takes a team effort. We are grateful to the chapter Grassroots Government Relations committees and program associates for taking this on.

Contribute to CPA-PAC!

Achieving our collective goals starts with engaging in the political process--and that's where CPA-PAC comes in.

CPA-PAC works hard--on a bipartisan basis--to support candidates who understand the essential services we provide.

Find more information at www.calcpa.org/Content/legissues/cpapac/QA.aspx.

Bruce C. Allen is CalCPA's director of government relations. Jeannie Tindel is CalCPA's director of legislation.
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Title Annotation:CapitolBeat
Author:Allen, Bruce C.; Tindel, Jeannie
Publication:California CPA
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Sep 1, 2010
Words:799
Previous Article:Upcoming events.
Next Article:Close to the limelight.
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