A Look At Lobbying And Lunching On The Capitol Lawn

Published: Friday, February 20, 2015 - 5:02pm
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There’s an old saying about government and its similarities to sausage-making. But on some days during the legislative session, there are actual sausages grilling on the lawn outside the state capitol. And Mexican food, bar-b-q and lots of other kinds of foods.

It’s all part of what are called lobby days — when advocacy groups get the ears of lawmakers by appealing to their stomachs. They usually involve some kind of speech, and sometimes include meetings with individual legislators on specific issues or bills.

Former GOP state Sen. Rich Crandall says lobby days are a big deal.

One of Crandall’s old lunch-mates, former Senate Minority Leader David Schapira, echoes the sentiment about the lack of good lunch places near the capitol. He says the best lobby days, though, were the ones that included more than just lobbyists.

Schapira says he especially liked the events which would have constituents from his district at a table. He also liked the chance to get to know his fellow lawmakers in a more casual setting.

But Schapira believes groups may have decided lobby days are not the most effective way to get their messages out, so they don’t rely on them exclusively.

But Crandall says lobby days served a purpose, and in some ways, are a more efficient way to talk to lawmakers.

So we know what legislators get out of lobby days: a chance to talk to some constituents and a free lunch. But, what’s in it for the groups putting on the events?

To find out, we turn to Nicole LaSlavic, the vice president of government affairs for the Arizona Association of Realtors, which had its members down at the capitol earlier this year.

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