Most of us know that one person or one vote really can make a difference.
The point was brought home to me recently in a vivid and meaningful way.
As pictured on the cover of last month's Advantage, a group of Illinois Lumber & Material Dealers Association (ILMDA) member dealers traveled together this spring to Washington, D.C., for the purpose of introducing the Innocent Sellers Fairness Act (ISFA) (H.R. 5500) to Congress.
If you are not familiar with this proposed law, it is our hope you soon will be. In fact, we are preparing a copy of the bill to mail to you.
The Innocent Sellers Fairness Act, which aims to stop frivolous lawsuits that penalize innocent retailers, is a terrific new law that we proposed and then sought and obtained congressional sponsorship for its introduction. Once introduced by the originating legislators, the normal process is to seek co-sponsors for a bill. The more co-sponsors, the better chance the bill has to receive bipartisan support and eventually receive a favorable vote to become law.
Hence the trip to D.C. during which our delegation dedicated two full days to personally visit 19 of our Illinois representatives in Congress. While these visits were no small feat, our dealers were real troupers and accordingly were quite successful in their attempts to explain the reason and the need for ISFA to our representatives.
Each and every one of the representatives found ISFA to be well-conceived and were very supportive of the concept. Unfortunately, at the time of our visit to D.C., the final language for ISFA was not quite complete, so obtaining a firm commitment to co-sponsor was almost impossible; however, with few exceptions, our Illinois representatives indicated their early approval. But while this tacit approval was reassuring and rewarding to our dealers, what we were really looking for was a commitment to co-sponsor. A few representatives, however, did pledge to be co-sponsors once the bill was introduced. We all left Washington encouraged.
When the bill was finally drafted—and quite expertly, I might add—it was introduced to the House by sponsors from Florida and Oklahoma. My delegation was disappointed, however, to find that none of our Illinois representatives had signed on yet as co-sponsors.
Enter One Person Sarah Brian, co-owner of Brian Lumber in Bridgeport, Ill., is not one to take a temporary disappointment and be discouraged. She is, in fact, the wrong person to make a promise to and then not keep it promptly.
Sarah started with a simple “thank you for the visit” letter to the representatives she had visited in Washington. Then two months later she followed up with a letter requesting an update on the now-introduced ISFA bill. When she received a generic reply from one congressman saying that he would monitor ISFA, she remembered his springtime pledge to co-sponsor. After a few well-placed phone calls, the congressman remembered his pledge and before the day was over had indeed signed on to co-sponsor ISFA.