Congressional Action Days 2017

New Jersey florists need you. There I said it.

The Society of American florists, (SAF) which has hundreds of member florists in NJ, needs your support. There is a lobbying effort that happens on an annual basis in Washington DC in mid-March each year. Topics that attendees have lobbied on in the past include Obamacare, Estate Tax, Immigration Reform, and a few other topics too complicated to mention in this space. This year the event is scheduled for (Mon-Tues) March 13th -14th 2017. You would normally arrive Sunday evening (March 12th). SAF has a contract with Ritz Carlton to house attendees at their hotel in Pentagon City. The reason that SAF has moved away from center city Washington is the room rate is less expensive in Pentagon City than it is in Washington DC. The room rate for 2017 in Pentagon City is $229 per night. The room rate in center city would probably be $100 higher. There have been SAF attendees that will stay at less expensive hotels and just travel in for the meetings at the Ritz-Carlton. That is always an option. The fee to register for SAF’s Congressional Action Days is $295.00 Being from NJ, we are lucky, we can drive to Washington DC relatively easily, and pay $30.00 per day at the hotel to park the car. Other attendees from far-flung states have to fly, and that can be costly as well. Overall, the entire event would probably cost $875 if you don’t pick a less expensive hotel. Another option is to share a ride and a room with a florist you are friendly with, and that may save you money as well.

The actual lobbying part goes as follows: SAF spends a few hours on Monday March 13th teaching you about the floral industry issues that we will bring to the Hill. Then on Tuesday, check out of the hotel, you go on the Hill and meet with the offices of your particular representatives and Senators. Sometimes you will actually have a meeting with the Congressperson, and many times you will meet with their staff. The staff has the congressperson’s ear, so when you lobby your position, the staff will pass along your opinions when they have briefings. For example, if a whole bunch of constituents come thru the office one day and tell the staff, “we don’t agree with deporting 6 million illegal immigrants, for there would not be enough unemployed American citizens that actually want those jobs, and would take those jobs,” then this is the message that the staff will relay to the congressperson. The meetings usually end at 3:00 PM, and then you either drive home, or take the train back to NJ. The NJ delegation consists of two wholesalers, Hillcrest Garden and Delaware Valley, and 2 florists (Colony Florist in Franklin Lakes, and Tyrell’s in Westwood NJ). We would love to have more people join the NJ delegation. That’s the reason behind this blog post. If you have any interest in joining the lobbying effort, you can contact SAF at (703) 836-8700. Or you can call me, Eric Levy, at (800) 437-7000.

There is also a free afternoon on Monday, where you can take some time to take in some of the sights and museums. There actually are a few new museums open in Washington, including the African American History and Culture Museum and the News Museum.