- As the lobbyist for the Mississippi Tourism Association, Donna Echols has taken tourism to soaring heights at the Mississippi Legislature. She helps guide tourism issues through the process at the Capitol, and as a result, helped bring about legislation to enhance the impact of tourism as a significant economic development generator for our state.”Beau WhittingtonVice President of Governmental Affairs for the Mississippi Tourism Association
Lobbyists Call Attention to Your Issues at Capitol
June 9, 2012 | Latest News
My friends are always curious about what I do for a living. Some wrongly assume that we lobbyists only work when legislators are in session. In the first grade, I got spankings all the time for excessive talking. Years later after seeing Mrs. Springer again and telling her that I was a lobbyist, she said that I’m finally making a living at what I do best… talking! But why does anyone need a lobbyist? The answer is quite simple… to make certain that your issue(s) get attention from legislators. This last session, there were about 3,000 bills introduced. Of that number, only 14% were passed into law. A lobbyist makes sure that legislators know why a piece of legislation is important and deserving of a vote and consideration. I know… you’re thinking here comes that old “special interest” push for their agenda. Not every client is a Fortune 500 company. Some of those “special interests” that I represent include law enforcement, school cafeteria employees, and even abused children. Legislators have a lot on their plate – reviewing pending legislation, dealing with constituent issues, and balancing the remainder of their time between families and jobs. A lobbyist makes sure their client’s issues are at least heard. One of my sons, when he was younger, said it best when he had to explain to his class what his mom did for a living. He’d spent a Saturday with me at the Capitol as legislators were working, and one senator through a football with him in the rotunda. So what does my child take from that experience and tell his teacher, “My mom plays football with legislators!” There’s a lot of truth to that… we do play a little offense and defense! By that I mean, we’re not always trying to get legislators to pass something, sometimes we play defense and ask legislators not to vote for something that could be detrimental to our clients. Lobbying is an adrenalin junkies dream job because it’s fast paced and voting dynamics change by the hour. Maybe the next time you see people moving over for stopped emergency vehicles, you might think that a Mississippi lobbyist brought that issue to the attention of legislators to help protect the law enforcement officer working on the side of the road.