The strength of any association comes from the support of its membership. In May 2006, the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA)–initiated Innocent Sellers Fairness Act (ISFA) was introduced in the House of Representatives. This year, with the new 110th Congress on board, we hope to garner even more support for this important legislation that protects the rights of dealers. Now more than ever, NLBMDA needs your backing to move ISFA forward—reintroducing it in the House and introducing it in the Senate.

For everyone who has shown their commitment to NLBMDA and become a Team ISFA member, please accept our gratitude for all that you do for our industry!

It has been said there are two things you should never watch being made: law and sausages. The process of taking a good idea and enacting it into law is complicated and time-consuming. Hardworking individuals often see little incentive to carve time out of their schedules to actively engage in the political process. For many, an unwillingness to become politically involved stems not from lack of interest, but from frustration with a lack of results.

It is true that Congress may spend years working on a single issue or piece of legislation; bankruptcy reform took a decade of building support and negotiating compromises to reach enactment. The American political process is rife with differences of opinion, and deliberation is a necessity.

So how does NLBMDA hope to make any progress on legislation such as the Innocent Sellers Fairness Act (ISFA)? For starters, it's critical to persuade as many members as possible from both parties to co-sponsor ISFA. And members, by and large, decide to co-sponsor a bill only after a constituent has made that request. That is why your involvement is key. And to help you accomplish this, NLBMDA has established a Web site,

The more co-sponsors a bill has, the more likely it will be noticed once it reaches the congressional committee responsible for it. Typically, a committee that takes up a bill will hold a hearing on it, thus establishing a legislative record and determining how all sides regard an issue. Hearings give those with a stake in the bill an opportunity to tell their stories and express their concerns.

After that, the committee debates, amends, and approves the legislation, then sends it to the entire House or Senate. Only after both chambers approve the bill in identical form can it be sent to the president to be signed into law.

Throughout this process, coalitions are formed in support of the legislation. Working with like-minded partners amplifies the message and increases the likelihood of its success.

In order for NLBMDA's efforts on ISFA to be successful, your involvement in the process is vital. Please consider attending our annual Legislative Conference in Washington April 16–18. You will learn more about lobbying members of Congress and have an opportunity to visit with them. NLBMDA's Build the Vote Web site also is a useful tool in championing ISFA and impacting the political process.

You may not think these things make a difference, but lawmakers pay particular attention when their constituents alert them. They want to hear from you, and NLBMDA wants to help. —Sarah Owen is director of government affairs and grassroots advocacy for NLBMDA