SPRINGFIELD – State lawmakers are accepting the Technology & Manufacturing Association’s invitation to participate in TMA’s new effort in the Illinois General Assembly called the SaMM Caucus (Small and Midsized Manufacturers’ Caucus).
The purpose of the SaMM Caucus will be to gather interested state lawmakers and provide information to them that will positively influence state policy from small and midsized manufacturers’ unique perspectives.
“Manufacturing is a crucial part of Illinois’ economic strength,” Capitol lobbyist David Curtin said. “As I talk to legislators more and more, their eyes light up when they realize TMA members are affected differently by public policy than are bigger, publicly-traded manufacturing corporations. Illinois’ small and midsized manufacturers need a healthy, robust voice at the table when lawmakers are determining tax and work-related policies.”
TMA’s SaMM Caucus will meet periodically during the legislative session to review how policy will affect Illinois manufacturers with less than 500 employees.
The new SaMM Caucus will be chaired by two state lawmakers that are familiar with industry issues: State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) and State Rep. Tim Ozinga (R-Mokena).
Early in January, TMA’s lobbyist David Curtin hosted the first of planned monthly online interviews with state lawmakers that joined the SaMM Caucus.
During the first TMA interview, Senator Plummer, whose family owns small manufacturing companies in DeKalb and Springfield and the multi-location JP Lumber, said Senate Republicans were eager to bolster Illinois businesses in the new legislative session.
“Sitting down with John Curran, our new State Senator Leader of the Republican Caucus, we have prioritized positive reform for small and mid-sized businesses. You’re going to see us roll out a package in about 45 days that I think the TMA membership will really like,” Plummer said.
Rep. Ozinga, of the fourth-generation Ozinga family business, recognized that large companies dominate state policy, and there’s an urgent need for that to change.
“A lot of the legislation and policy are geared towards large businesses. But you know, and we know that small and midsize businesses make up the most amount of jobs and are the biggest driver to the economy,” Ozinga said.
“So I was excited when David put the SaMM Caucus together because I think it’s up to us as small and midsize businesses to be a voice. To do that, we must build a coalition and ensure our voice is heard. And I think this will be an opportunity to do that.”
The TMA Advocacy Team is currently reviewing proposed legislation and determining how it could affect the TMA members and their businesses. They are also working with lawmakers from both parties to build the TMA SaMM Caucus as the legislative session kicks into high gear.
At the same time the TMA Advocacy Team – consisting of TMA lobbyist David Curtin, TMA News editor Fran Eaton and TMA Government Relations consultant Rich Carter – is working with TMA members to set up Legislator Connect visits with TMA members’ state legislators.
The urgency of inviting lawmakers into meet with small and midsized manufacturers was emphasized during another TMA Advocacy interview with State Rep. Tony McCombie, (R-Savannah) who is the new House Republican Leader.
“…Get your legislator in your building. You let them tour your building. Let them see the faces of the people that are working. You talk to them about tax policy,” McCombie said. “We have a lot of folks [in the legislature] that have not worked in a manufacturing setting, don’t understand a manufacturing setting. They don’t understand the high cost of workers comp and property taxes…
“So if you want to educate us in the House and the Senate, get [lawmakers] in your doors and explain what’s going on. Let them see the faces of the people that may not have a job because of policy we pass,” she said.
Curtin said Rep. McCombie’s point is well-taken.
“The more state lawmakers know firsthand about the small and midsized manufacturers in their districts, the crucial work that they do to keep America going every day, the stronger voice TMA members will have in the state legislature, and the better off their businesses will be as a result,” Curtin said. “After all, isn’t that the way the American system is supposed to work?”
The TMA Advocacy Team is prepared to organize and facilitate visits between lawmakers and TMA members. To let them know you want a lawmaker to visit your company, please drop a note to email@example.com .
In an online interview with Senator Jason Plummer and State Rep Tim Ozinga, TMA lobbyist David Curtin introduces the SaMM Caucus and why it is needed for small and mid-sized manufacturers in Illinois: