There are many ways that we as a Chamber influence legislation in Springfield. For example, we have personal meetings with area legislators and their staff, we work in partnership with other associations and chamber groups in joint advocacy efforts such as sign-on letters to key leaders in the General Assembly, and we take visits to Springfield annually as part of the statewide Chamber Day. Take a look at the behind-the-scenes of us on March 2nd as we had “Capital Conversations”.
Another tool that we employ is the filing of ‘witness slips’. I want to describe in detail the role that witness slips play in influencing legislators and how our Chamber Members can be a part of this process as individuals or representing your business or organization.
In a nutshell, a witness slip is an electronic filing of your statement of a position related to a certain bill in play in Springfield. You can identify a specific bill and note whether you are a “proponent” “opponent” or “no position on merits” If you are weighing in on a bill scheduled for a subcommittee hearing, note if you will be submitting a written statement to be read at the hearing or request the opportunity to make oral statements during the hearing or just note “record of appearance” where you are simply indicating that you are either for or against a bill. Once filed, witness slips are visible to legislators and anyone who visits the Illinois General Assembly website at www.ilga.gov to review a specific bill. The NACC recently filed a witness slip in favor of HB-5320 which would expand the minimum wage tax credit. View how our position is noted along with others who weighed in on that bill.
Many elected officials report that they do review witness slips prior to voting on a bill. When our local legislative delegation sees that our area business or organization has a specific position on an issue, they do take note.
While the NACC actively advocates on behalf of the business community in Springfield, nothing replaces the individual voices of our Chamber Members. Keep an eye out when the NACC sends requests for witness slips on specific bills. The capturing of the timely voices of many will move the dial to create effective business policy and work to snuff out bills that would harm our efforts toward a favorable business climate.
Here is a link on the Illinois General Assembly website where you can create an account and be able to file a witness slip at crucial points as a bill moves through both the Illinois House and Senate.