Air Conditioning Contractors of America
ACCA is the leading association for indoor environment contractors and their employees. We serve
over 60,000 people and 4,000 companies nationwide. Our mission is to lead indoor environment
and energy service professionals to business success. A large part of that is serving as the
industry’s chief advocate in Washington, and supporting our members and affiliates in statehouses
around the country.
2800 Shirlington Road
Suite 300
Arlington, VA 22206
Recognizing the time constraints under which you conduct your daily business, this guide is
designed to quickly but comprehensively take you through the steps involved in effectively
introducing or changing a law or regulation that adversely affects the way you do business at the
local and state levels.
Because laws and rules of local and state agencies regulate so much of our business, we must be
vigilant in protecting our interests. We must become more active in ensuring that legislator and
regulators understand the full impact of their actions on not only the way we do business, but also
the costs associated with those actions. For, in the long run, the economic health of your company
translates into the economic health of their constituents – your employees and community.
Our strategy to is improve the legislative climate for the HVACR contracting industry by launching
a grassroots effort that focuses on issues that not only affect the way you do business but raise the
bar for the entire industry. We do this by ensuring that practitioners provide the highest quality,
most efficient, and effective service to their customers. Not only will we increase ties with elected
and appointed officials but we hope to heighten the visibility of ACCA and its members within the
councils of federal, state and local governments.
By utilizing the vast resources of our member companies, their employees, and natural allies, ACCA
chapters or individual members have the potential to leverage their involvement in the political
process into one of the most effective, long-term voices in government decision-making.
Former President Dwight Eisenhower said, “In a democracy, politics ought to be the part-time
profession of every citizen.” We couldn’t agree more and hope that this guide will help you turn
his admonition into “contractor” reality.
Laws and Regulations Govern the Way You Do Business......................................... 4
Working with Elected and/or Appointed Officials ................................................... 8
Pursuing State Legislation ..................................................................................... 10
Once Your Bill is Introduced .................................................................................. 11
Glossary of Legislative Terms ................................................................................. 13
Guidelines for Legislative Contact – Make Your Visits Count!................................ 14
Working with Coalitions ....................................................................................... 16
Working with the Press......................................................................................... 24
Tips and Techniques for a Media Interview ............................................................ 25
Preparing for the Interview .................................................................................... 26
Hosting Special Events .......................................................................................... 29
Codes Marketing Campaign .................................................................................. 37
Laws are passed by legislative bodies – city councils, county commissions, state legislatures and
the United States Congress. Regulations implement these laws. Consequently, the process
involves vigilance at the legislative as well as the regulatory levels. Unless the language
implementing the legislative act accurately reflects your legislative goals, you may not get what
you wanted.
Often, there is considerable room for interpretation by the civil servants that write the
implementing language, the regulations. A word or phrase here and there can change the intent
of the original bill. That is why the regulatory process (explained later) must be part of your overall
campaign planning.
The first step is getting a legislator, council member, or county commissioner to champion
your proposal, and put it into legislative language to create a “bill”.
By introducing your bill into the legislative process, your champion becomes the prime
sponsor. They or you may enlist other legislators to join them, thus becoming co-sponsors.
The official legislation process begins when the bill is assigned a number – for example, in
the U.S. Congress it would be H.R. XX for a bill that starts in the House of Representatives,
or S. XX for a bill that starts in the Senate.
The presiding officer then refers the bill to one of the standing committees with jurisdiction
the subject matter. The committee becomes the committee of reference for your bill.
The Chairman of the committee of reference places the bill on the committee’s Legislative
Calendar. He may refer the bill to a subcommittee of the committee, or decide that the
committee as a whole will discuss or “hear” it. This decision is a critical stage for the bill as
it is examined very carefully and its chances for passage are determined. If it is survives
this state, the chair of the committee or subcommittee may schedule hearings at which
advocates and opponents of the legislation, as well as other government officials, may
state their views on the legislation. Their testimony goes in the official record of the
legislative body. The testimony can be in person or submitted in writing.
The “mark-up” or process where the committee members analyze the bill section by
section, and sometimes line by line, follows the public hearings. It is at this point that
members of the committee may make changes to the legislation by amending it and then
report the bill by vote, determine if it should proceed to the next step.
If a subcommittee reports the bill favorably, it now goes to the full committee where the
process is repeated. This may result in additional hearings and mark-up sessions. If it
survives this step, the bill is favorably “reported out” of the Committee.
A staff report on the bill is written which describes the scope of the legislation, impact on
existing laws and programs, position of the executive branch, and views of dissenting
The bill is then scheduled for debate on the floor of the chamber from which it originated –
House or Senate in the case of the legislative bodies; City Council or County Commissioner
for the local government actions.
Once the bill’s turn comes up on the chamber calendar, the leader of that chamber – the
Speaker of the House or President of the Senate – will decide if the bill is to be brought to
the floor for debate and vote.
The bill is debated, often under specific rules such as time allocated for the debate. Once
the debate is completed, the entire chamber votes on the bill. In most cases a simple
majority vote is needed for passage.
Once the bill is successfully voted out of one chamber, it is referred to the other chamber
(in the case of legislative bodies) where it begins its journey anew; repeating the steps it
went through in the first chamber.
The second chamber may reject the bill outright, or make changes. If they change the bill,
the differences between the two chambers must be reconciled. This is done in a
conference committee composed of a handful of members of each chamber, generally
those who served on the committees of reference who heard the bill. If the conferees are
unable to compromise, the bill dies.
If they reach agreement, they produce a conference report that describes the changes
they made to reach the agreement. Both chambers then vote on this report. If it passes
both chambers in identical form, it is sent to the chief executive – governor, major, etc.—
for approval. If the executive approves, he or she signs it into law, or lets it become law
without his signature after a specific time has passed. In the case of the federal
government, the President has ten days to act. If he disapproves the measure, he can veto
If there is a veto, the legislative body has one more chance to enact the bill but this means
that a super majority -- generally two/thirds of the legislators – must vote to override the
veto. If they succeed, the bill becomes law.
Once the bill passes, your work is still not done. Turning legislation into reality requires writing
regulations to implement the new law. Generally, the act only provides an outline of a program. It
is the responsibility of the Executive Branch – the governor or local governing board – to translate
the law into practical policy. They “fill in the blanks” so the law can work in the marketplace.
The executive agency (regulatory body) responsible for enforcing the specific law also has the
responsibility for preparing the regulations that govern it. Although often run by political
appointees of the chief executive, the agencies are staffed by civil servants that do the bulk of the
It is critical that you take part in this stage of the process if you want the law to work as you
intended. In instances where legislation has passed despite your opposition, you still have a chance
to provide input.
As mentioned, the law is broad by design so the Executive Branch writes specific policies and
procedures to implement it. They may include qualification for participation in the program, how
funds are to be spent, operating procedures, etc.
Fortunately, the regulatory process invites public participation. It begins with publication of a draft
of the proposed regulation. The public is then given an opportunity, within a specific time period,
to submit comments on the proposal. Depending upon the process in your state or community,
this step may be repeated several times should there be controversy over the regulations. In some
cases, the agency may schedule hearings on the proposed regulations.
Although each state or local government may have a unique approach, the general process is the
same. An executive agency, for example, the state licensing board, which wants to adopt, amend
or repeal regulations must first publish their notice of intended regulatory action in the state’s
register (a daily report in hard copy and often available online) of official actions. At the national
level, it is called the Federal Register. At the state level, as in Virginia, it is called the Virginia
Once the comment period is complete, 60 days is quite common, the agency must adopt the
There is also an opportunity for the legislative branch to get involved in the process if they don’t
like the way the regulations are shaping up.
Most state legislatures have joint committees for reviewing administrative rules. In addition, the
Governor or chief executive has powers to amend the proposed regulations or even suspend all or
part of them.
The normal process takes quite a while. So, if an agency can demonstrate an immediate threat to
the public’s health or safety, or that it must comply with a recently passed federal rule, the agency
may request approval from the Governor to adopt an emergency regulation. In most states, these
regulations are very limited and may not exceed a specified period of time, such as a year.
Emergency regulations are published as soon as possible in the state’s Register. During the period
the emergency regulation is in effect, the agency may proceed with the formal process, as
explained earlier, of adopting a permanent regulation.
Again, there are specific guidelines regarding timelines and public comment.
Once the regulations are adopted, your job may still not be finished. If they are not to your liking,
or that of someone else, you can go to court to challenge them.
The legislative process is very complex and barriers are thrown up to block you at every turn. If you
can succeed against these odds, you can indeed take pride for you have accomplished something
very significant.
This section discusses various elements required to mount a successful legislative or regulatory
campaign. The political environment may differ from state to state, but there are some universal
strategies that apply to all, regardless of location or party in power.
There are several components to a successful legislative or regulatory campaign: a problem, a core
of committee allies, fundraising, and advocacy. Coordinating these components are the necessary
ingredients for success.
Obviously, there is no need for a legislative body to pass any new laws or regulatory body to
change their rules unless there is a real or perceived problem. The presence of a problem may be
obvious to some parties. Yet, to move forward there must be widespread concern among most if
not all affected competitors that the problem exists and can be corrected. Without this
fundamental agreement, a group will not coalesce around the common problem.
Once you have agreement that a problem exists, research or contact other ACCA chapters and
allied groups to see if they faced similar issue in their state or community. Find out what approach
they took, including legislative language and results. Don’t re-invent the wheel. It wastes time and
you can build upon what others have done. Using this research as background, educate your
members to the solution to the problem. By this point, everyone should agree that action is
necessary. Nevertheless, you must get their commitment before proceeding to the next step.
The second ingredient in any successful strategy is a coalition of similarly situated small
businesspersons and allies who are affected by your issue. At some point legislators and/or
regulators will want to know the specific details of the problem, including the extent to which it
affects the community/state. A group of businesspersons (also taxpayers) that share a common
set of concerns and experience is key to your efforts.
Advocacy, grassroots campaigns, and media plans cost money, especially if you hire a lobbyist. The
old adage of “Put up or shut up” must have been coined for the legislative process. A lobbyist will
usually require a retainer and/or a fee. An attorney may be necessary to draft legislation and
explain the implication of various drafts of your proposal. Funds will also be necessary to keep the
coalition informed and engaged. For example, estimates of state legislative campaign expenses
can range from $15,000 to $100,000, depending upon the level of resistance of the opponents, the
nature and degree of their support, and prevailing rates for attorneys and lobbyist fees.
Fundraising can take many forms and varies from coalition to coalition. No single approach work
best, but a combination of different ones can enhance your results. The following are examples of
fundraising techniques used by state groups around the country:
Coalition annual membership fees ranging from $25 to $5,000 per group.
An assessment levied on membership dues to generate the funds necessary. One option
may be to set assessment levels based upon a company’s annual sales and ranging from
$125 to $550.
Raffles, golf tournaments, auctions, fishing tournaments and other special events are
generally successful as the contributors don’t mind quite as much “having their pockets
picked,” if they’re having a good time while doing so, and are getting something in return.
Certain companies have their employees voluntarily contribute a portion of their paychecks
to the coalition. For example, allowing employees to contribute a $1.00 per week to help
fund the coalition.
The key is having a fundraising committee willing to do the necessary legwork…from arranging and
promoting the event to collecting the money and administering the funds.
A logical starting point is your own state representative or state senator. He or she will generally
be most responsive to you as a constituent. Another possibility is a lawmaker who has ties to the
industry but may be from outside your area.
However, you increase your chances for success if you recruit a sponsor who serves on the
committee that will be assigned your bill, the committee of reference. For example, if you want to
change the tax code, recruit someone who serves on the tax writing committee.
You improve your chances even more if you not only get someone in the majority (the political
party which controls the legislative body), but the chair of the committee. Check to see if you and
your allies around the state have any good contacts on the appropriate committee.
Arrange a meeting with the legislator you wish to sponsor your bill. Bring knowledgeable
spokespersons from other groups or interests who favor the bill. Make sure you have a strategy
session prior to the meeting to ensure you present a united front. Don’t be intimidated by an
elected or appointed official. Remember, they work for you!
If you have not previously done so by telephone, mail or email, acquaint the legislator with the
problem at hand and give them a reason to meet with you. Describe why it’s important to his/her
constituents, and how many people will be affected -- businesses and consumers (they will quickly
translate this into voters). Use concrete, real-life examples. Bring a straightforward one or twopage description of the problem and/or copies of newspaper articles with enough copies for the
lawmaker and his staff. Describe your proposed legislation and assess the legislators’ interest in
sponsoring your bill.
If you are unable to get a firm commitment, but the legislator is sympathetic, plan a follow-up
strategy: organize a grassroots letter-writing campaign to him or her; stay in contact with the
legislator and their staff by letter and phone.
You may get turned down. Accept it. The important point is never burn your bridges. You may
need his or her help at some future time, or on a different issue.
Maintain regular communication with the sponsor and his or her staff. The staff is critical for they
prepare background material, recommendations and draft legislation for their boss. A good staff
person is worth his or her weight in gold to you. Discuss strategy with them. Keep them informed
of your efforts. Send them copies of letters of support, relevant newspaper and magazine articles,
instances of electronic news coverage, etc. The more you make their boss look good, the more
effective you will be in ensuring his or her support.
Urge every one of your allies to contact their state representative (delegate) and senator, asking
them to co-sponsor the bill (include the bill number and name of the lead sponsor). Even if they
do not agree to co-sponsor, it’s a great way to raise the visibility of your issue and demonstrate
Focus your efforts on the chairman of the committee of jurisdiction. Use appropriate contacts to
meet with him or her personally. Lobby members of the committee to urge the Chair to schedule
a hearing. As described earlier, the success or failure of your effort rests in the committee of
There is more than one way to accomplish your goal. Be alert for other legislative vehicles to
which you would have your bill amended. Look for larger, must pass bills to attach your bill to.
Discuss with your bill’s sponsor the strategy of offering your bill as an amendment to his must pass
legislation in committee, or on the floor. Keep in mind, most state legislatures have a
“germaneness” requirement, i.e. the subject of the amendment must be germane to the subject of
the main bill.
As described in the section on Coalitions, this might be the point when you will want to retain a
professional lobbyist. If any of the coalition members already has a lobbyist, it usually makes
sense to utilize that individual since he or she will likely be familiar with issues of concern to the
Although discussed previously, the advantages of having a professional lobbyist are so important
that they bear repeating:
A working knowledge of your state’s political and legislative process.
The ability to gain access to key lawmakers and their staff.
Strategic know-how. A good lobbyist can help you plan the focus and timing of your efforts
to maximize their effect.
To find the right lobbyist, it is helpful to look to related groups or associations for
recommendations, as well as the recommendation of any contacts you have in the legislature or
local government. When making your decision, consider the lobbyist’s background and his or her
current and former clients. It is important to find someone with a) a solid grasp of the legislative
process; b) the ability to reach key legislators and decision-makers; c) no conflicts of interests
between you and other clients; d) whom you can feel comfortable working with and; d) no
“political baggage.”
ACT: A bill or measure after it passes one or both chambers.
ADJOURNMENT: To end a legislative day; or the conclusion of a legislative session.
AMENDMENT: A proposal to change or an actual change to a bill.
APPROPRIATION: A provision by a legislature of funds for a specific purpose.
AUTHORIZATION: A legislative action establishing a program and the authorized amount of money
which is to fund the program; an appropriation provides those funds.
BILL: A proposed law.
CAUCUS: The meeting of members of a political party, usually to decide policy or select members
to fill positions; also, the group itself.
CONFEREES: Members of a conference committee, which is composed of members of both houses
in the legislature, named to work out differences between two versions of a bill passed by both
houses (except in unicameral legislatures where there is only one chamber).
CO-SPONSORS: After the sponsor (see below) these are legislators who support the provisions.
The more co-sponsors you sign up early in the process, the better your chances.
FILIBUSTER: Talking and debating a bill in an effort to kill it.
GERMANE: Pertinent, bearing on a subject.
MARK-UP: The procedure whereby a subcommittee or committee considers and votes on
amendments to a bill.
REPORT: A committee’s written record of its actions and views on a bill.
REPORT OUT: When a committee favorably votes on a bill, they are often said to “report out” the
RIDER: A provision added to a bill so it may “ride” approval on the strength of the bill. Generally,
riders are placed on appropriations bills.
SPONSOR: The legislator who introduces and carries the bill.
Although common sense dictates how you should communicate with elected or appointed
officials, the following guidelines may help you orchestrate your presentations for greatest impact.
These are appropriate for contact by email, fax, mail, phone or in-person.
When writing, use your own words and stationery. Include your home address and sign
your name legibly. Try and keep your letter to one page. Include the number of employees
in your company – each one, and members of their family, are probably constituents of the
official. When calling, ask to speak to the official and identify yourself as a constituent –
your name, company name and address.
The receptionist may ask what you want to talk about and subsequently, put you through
to a staff aid that handles the issues rather than the official. Don’t be put off. As
mentioned earlier, the aid often makes recommendations to the official in addition to
being a specialist in your area of concern. The fact you bothered to call, or write, is a
strong indication to them of constituent interest that should be pursued.
Do your research. Get your facts straight. Use the facts to back up your position. Prepare
written talking points to guide you. Make an “Ask”. Tell the official, aid or receptionist
what you want the official to do. Learn how the official relates to your position. For
example, does he or she serve on a committee of reference that has jurisdiction over the
issue? Has your issue come up before and what is the official’s position on it…a voting
record for example? Did the official co-sponsor your legislation, or opposing legislation?
Does the official’s statement back home jibe with his or her voting record? This is all in the
public record, for the asking.
Be constructive and positive.
Ask for a response.
Don’t threaten or make promises.
Don’t insult the official. People have honest differences of opinion. Always leave the door
open for further discussion.
Don’t pretend to have vast political influence.
Don’t become a constant “pen pal,” writing on every issue under the sun.
Don’t demand a commitment before the facts are in.
Don’t present a PAC contribution or mention political contributions when discussing an
issue. It gives appearance of impropriety, even if you know the two events are unrelated.
Set a specific goal for your visit – which do you expect to gain…a commitment, an
opportunity to educate the official, and/or an opportunity to establish a relationship that
can be tapped later?
When making your appointment, find out how much time you will have.
Be on time for the meeting, or you might miss it altogether. Officials have crowded
schedules. They may be late or even have to cancel. If so, be prepared to reschedule.
Be flexible. Have a back-up plan if the official is called away and you are left to meet with a
staff aid. It happens.
Limit the number of participants. Generally, two or three people are sufficient to deliver a
focused message but if you are trying to get across the breadth of your Coalition, include
several other coalition members.
Rehearse. Who is going to make the presentation? What will they say? Is the message
easily understood and straightforward? Do you have examples to illustrate your position?
What leave-behind material do you have that will summarize your talking points and
desired actions? At the most, keep the leave behind to two or three easily-read pages. If
asked, you can always send additional material.
Plan your presentation based upon the time given for the meeting. Although you will
minimize small talk, you still need to establish rapport with the official. Find a common
thread to bond you together.
Remember, the official wants to represent the best interest of his or her constituents. He
or she works for you, so be prepared to describe how you or those you represent can be of
help to the official.
Be direct and ask the official for his or her support, or whatever you goal is.
Always, always, always write a thank you note. It gives you another opportunity to gain
visibility with the official and reiterate your key points, respond to “unanswered”
questions, or provide additional materials.
A Coalition Strengthens Your Hand
Why organize a coalition of like-minded companies or organizations?
1) A coalition brings more bodies to the party, increasing the number of people that will work
on your effort.
2) A coalition becomes the public focal point of your efforts. It increases your impact
geometrically as each new group comes aboard.
3) Through its members, the coalition can generate the necessary financial resources; and
4) Increase your credibility.
Organizing a coalition can be a fairly easy task. The key to the initial stages is two or three people
willing to take on the recruitment and organization of the coalition.
STEP ONE: Educate your own members first. Explain the value of a coalition in helping achieve
your goals. This will help you recruit volunteers to begin the process.
STEP TWO: Develop a list of organizations whose members may be affected by your issue. Think
about the suppliers, the wholesalers, related industry trade association, non-affiliated contractors,
the labor unions, and other small business interests, such as the National Federation of
Independent Businesses, local Chamber of Commerce, etc. If you think an organization might even
be remotely interested, put them on your list. But, don’t limit yourself to the business community.
Think of potential non-traditional allies such as consumer and environmental groups who may
share your goals.
STEP THREE: Contact potential allies to gauge their interest, explaining the issue, your strategy,
and your plan to form a coalition. If the interest is there, call a meeting and invite representatives
of those groups who showed interest.
STEP FOUR: Prior to the meeting, determine the objectives that need to be accomplished at the
meeting. Plan in advance so that if there is interest in forming a coalition, you have someone
willing to serve as temporary chairman. Ask someone who can devote the time and provide the
back-up administrative support as the coalition organizes.
STEP FIVE: Set the agenda for the meeting. After introductions, it should include: introduction of
the opportunity/problem, discussions of the seriousness of the situation, and survey those present
to determine their level of interest. If they agree to formalize the coalition, determine your board
goal – pursue action at the state legislative or regulatory level, the courts, or with local
government. (This is a preliminary meeting; strategy will come later.)
STEP SIX: Once you have an agreement, you will need seed money. The participants should
donate a small amount of money to cover the initial expenses of the coalition, unless you or
someone else is willing to cover these. Note, if financial commitments are not forthcoming, the
idea of a coalition needs to be reconsidered.
STEP SEVEN: A second meeting date should be set, with everyone at the first meeting asked to
invite additional individuals and organizations.
Now is the time to formalize the coalition and begin raising operational finds. Steps to consider for
a full-fledged coalition:
Election of officers;
Writing bylaws and possible incorporation;
Fundraising plan;
Organize committees – public relations, finances, strategy, legislative, etc.
Set reasonable objectives for the coalition. For example, the aim of the coalition might be to
reduce your business insurance premiums, but the attainable goal might be passage of
construction defect legislation to provide for arbitration and limits on lawsuit judgments. This
would help lessen your liability exposure, thus reducing your risk and potentially, insurance
premiums. There is a difference between what the coalition ultimately wants and what can be
reasonably accomplished.
There are no specific rules for developing your strategy. It can vary widely based upon your goals.
The best advice is to begin cautiously in expending the coalition’s resources until all alternative
action steps have been considered.
The following approach is appropriate for working at the local government level, with state
regulatory agencies, and the state legislature. For purposes of illustration, the state legislature is
used as a model. The methodology is appropriate for all audiences, however.
Identify potential lobbyists. They may include attorneys, public affairs companies, or
former legislator who hung out their shingle after retiring from legislative service. In all
cases, you candidates must have appropriate experience and a good track record at the
State capital. Also, make sure your selection does not have any “baggage,” such as an
ancient enmity with a powerful legislator that could hurt your efforts. In interviewing the
candidates, get their ideas about possible legislative and regulatory initiatives. These
options could help determine if you are on the right course.
Don’t retain the individual until the coalition has decided what course of action to follow.
The coalition should direct the lobbyist, rather than allowing the lobbyist to direct the
coalition. Although the lobbyist will do much of the work at the Capitol, you are still the
constituents, and your participation is critical to success.
Schedule preliminary meetings with key state legislators, the government agency
responsible for administering your area of concern and, possibly, the attorney general’s
office. By convincing them of the righteousness of your cause, you may win them as allies.
Consider possible alliances with consumer groups.
Commission a survey to gather complete information on the extent of the
challenge/problem throughout the state. Many coalitions have utilized college professors
and graduate students for such research.
Once you have survey results, and assuming the research supports your position, call a
public meeting of the coalition to generate new members and attract press attention. For
example: have wholesalers invite all of their contractors and have contractor allies invite
In the end, success will hinge on the commitment of the coalition’s members and leaders. It will
also depend on the strategy and goals of the coalition. Establish goals that can realistically be
achieved given the coalition’s resources. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Then go out and give it
your best effort!
To a large degree, a coalition’s effectiveness will depend on its ability to mobilize “grassroots”
support for or against a specific action. With appropriate planning, the coalition can develop the
capability of generating a flood of letters or phone calls at a moment’s notice.
Each participating organization should take responsibility for distributing the Coalition’s Legislative
Alert or other communication to their members when requested to do so. Each is accountable to
the coalition for fulfilling their role. The coalition should designate one person to maintain a
centralized contact list of coalition members for communications purposes.
Decide the “contact points” your coalition will use to mobilize the grassroots. There is no one
method for doing this – it will depend entirely on the nature of your coalition and the constituency
of the coalition members. If each coalition member is a representative of a countywide or
statewide association, the obvious network is for each coalition member to serve as the initial
point of contact. In turn, each distributes the coalition message to his or her members. If some of
your coalition members are stand-alone businesses, their constituency is their management level
employees. If there are several locations, the individual managers at each location, and of course,
customers who might be sympathetic, also become constituents.
Members with no automatic constituency should develop their own contact list of individuals and
businesses that are affected by the issue, but are not active in the coalition.
Whatever makes sense from a practical and logistical standpoint is the network your coalition
should establish. You may even want alternative networks: one for an all-out effort requiring
more work and expense and a second, more focused network with fewer people that can be
cranked up with ease on shorter notice.
For example, a statewide coalition may have a simple network which uses this approach: The
coalition’s association participants contact by phone or letter the five regional association reps,
which in turn put out the word to the ten chapter president in their region. They, in turn, convey
the message to the hundred or so individuals and businesses in the chapter. This is an easy way to
spread the word, but its decentralization will dilute any sense of urgency. Therefore, the coalition
will also want the capability of bypassing these points of contact and conveying the message
directly to the individual members, or at least to the chapter presidents.
Regardless of your structure, the important thing is the network you choose works. You should be
able to push the initial button and know a chain reaction of activity follows, resulting in a flood of
letters or calls to state representatives, the governor, or whomever you are targeting.
A proven way to generate grassroots response is “Legislative Alerts.” The style and tone of the
Alert should convey a sense of urgency. Use bold headings, exclamation points, and words like
“immediate,” “urgent.” Keep the message simple and to the point. Explain the problem, why you
need their help and, what you want them to do. Should they send a letter to a regulator? Should
they send an email to their state senator or representative?
Because you want to guarantee that each coalition member acts, you may have to do much of the
legwork yourself. You accomplish this by:
1) Getting copies of each member’s letterhead. Print your message on the letterhead. Have
the members sign the letter, and then you mail, fax, or email it.
2) If you prefer they do it themselves, provide sample letter text. One could be for their
members; another for customers if appropriate. Include the name and address of the
person to whom they are writing, emailing, or faxing. If it is a state representative or
senator, include a legislative list by district so each member of your audience can identify
their own representatives.
3) A sample letter covering the message the way you want it delivered.
4) Maximize your messaging by using an online tool to email letters lawmakers. An advocacy
service vendor can create a coalition website that can act as a one stop shop for
information about your coalition and platform for your members to send messages on your
Develop a “relationship” with your grassroots constituency. Introduce them to the coalition.
Periodically, send a newsletter updating them on the coalition’s activities. Pat them on the back
when they respond.
Grassroots efforts should be an integral part of your overall strategy. Think through how you want
to use the grassroots. Pick and choose the proper time to “pull the trigger” and activate them. If
you go to them too often, you will wear out your welcome.
“Close the circle” with your grassroots. If you ask them to take action, tell them the results of that
action. This lets them know they had an impact, even if you didn’t win the day, so you can go back
to them in the future. People like to be recognized and appreciated for their efforts.
Finally, remember that grassroots support can be a very potent weapon if used properly. Knowing
when and how to use it deserves careful thought. Make an effort to specifically describe what you
want from your supporters. Nothing can be worse than calling out the troops only to have them
running in all directions, spouting different message as they go. You need coordination at each
I. Purpose
The purpose of the (name of organization), as a coalition of associations, organizations,
companies, and individuals, is to proactively represent the interests of the professional indoor
environment and energy community.
The (name of organization) shall pursue state regulatory, legislative, executive, and judicial
actions to further and accomplish its efforts.
II. Structure
A. The Chairman
1. The Chairman shall be the chief executive of the (name of organization) and shall
generally supervise and direct its affairs. He or she shall preside at all meetings of the (name of
organization). The Chairman shall be an industry member. If the Chairman is unable to attend a
meeting, he or she may designate a person as Acting Chairman for meeting purposes.
2. The Chairman shall serve for a term of two years. The Chairman will be elected by a
majority of the members of the (name of organization) attending a regularly called meeting. At
least ninety days before the Chairman's term expires, the Chairman will appoint a Nominating
Committee. The list of nominees developed by the Nominating Committee will be mailed to all
members thirty days before the regularly called meeting.
B. The Secretariat
1. The Secretariat shall give advance notice of meeting and shall be responsible
for keeping the minutes of each meeting. The Secretariat will be responsible for
distributing copies of the minutes of the previous meeting to all members, as soon as
possible after such meeting.
2. The Secretariat shall keep the records for the (name of organization), except for
accounts kept by the Treasurer, and shall perform such other duties as may be assigned by the
C. The Treasurer
1. The Treasurer has the responsibility for the payment of expenses of the (name of
organization), subject to the control and direction of the Steering Committee. He or she shall
furnish reports as the Members from time to time may require.
2. The Treasurer shall collect all funds and keep accounts of the (name of organization),
dispense, deposit, or invest such funds as directed by the Steering Committee and report on the
accounts, as the Steering Committee or Members deem necessary.
3. The Treasurer shall pay bills in accordance with the instructions from the Steering
Committee. The Treasurer and the Chairman will sign all checks or make all payments, or
chairman's designee, except for amounts specified by the Steering Committee, in which case
either the Chairman, or his designee, or the Treasurer may sign or make payment.
D. Membership
1. Active Members: Membership shall be open to any individual, company, or association
having interests consistent with the (name of organization).
2. (You may want to provide for other classes of membership, such as steering
committee, associate, participating, or nonparticipating member).
3. (OPTIONAL: The annual dues for each active member shall be $___.)
4. Application for membership shall be made to the Secretariat. A majority of votes of the
(name of organization) members (or: a majority of votes of the Steering Committee) present at a
regularly scheduled meeting (either in person or via teleconference, see III. Meetings, below) is
required for acceptance of an application. (OPTIONAL: Membership will be on an annual basis and
will be valid for so long as a member is current with respect to dues.)
E. Steering Committee
The Steering Committee will consist of the Chairman and those members having "steering
committee" membership. Policy of the (name of organization) shall be set and approved by a
majority of the Steering Committee. Voting shall be via email, via teleconference, in person, or by
proxy. The Steering Committee will meet when necessary. The Steering Committee shall, by a
majority vote, select a Secretariat and Treasurer.
F. Amendment of Bylaws
Proposed amendments to these bylaws shall be submitted to the Steering Committee.
Amendments to the bylaws can be acted upon only after one week's notice to the Steering
Committee. Amendments to the bylaws shall be acted upon within 90 days of submission. A
two-thirds vote of the Steering Committee shall be required for adoption of any proposed
amendment to the bylaws. Steering Committee members may signify their acceptance of the
provisions by mail or at a general meeting of the Steering Committee.
III. Meetings
A. General Meetings shall be held at the call of the Chairman, or when the members
decide it is necessary, but at least on a quarterly basis. Meetings may be in person or via
B. The Chairman will assign, subject to the approval of the Steering Committee, working
Committees at the general meeting to research, review, and/or recommend positions or courses
of action that the (name of organization) should take on issues consistent with the purpose of
the organization.
C. Notice of the general meeting shall be given by the Secretariat to all members at least
two weeks before said meeting, except where, in the Chairman's opinion, an immediate,
emergency meeting is necessary.
IV. Transition Provisions
A majority of the members attending a special "ratification meeting," specifically called
for the purpose of adopting the bylaws, must agree to adopt the bylaws before they become
binding. Notice of the special "ratification meeting" shall be sent to all members at least 10 days
prior to the date of the meeting. Such notice shall describe the purpose of the meeting and shall
include a copy of the proposed bylaws.
A temporary Chairman, who may be a staff representative, a temporary Treasurer and a
temporary Secretary will be selected upon adoption of these provisions. Election of a permanent
Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary shall take place within 90 days of the adoption of these
A targeted and focused media relations’ effort can help win the day by starting a ground swell of
support for you. At the least, it will draw attention to your issue. As we have learned, the media
often influences the political agenda at the state, as well as national, level.
Your media strategy should include the placement of letters to the editor, opinion pieces (OPEDS), editorial board visits, interviews, and straight news articles. This kit includes a sample press
release you may use as a guide.
You will need to determine the best angle or news interest for your particular situation.
Generally, actions on the legal front, a legislative battle, or a business story with a local angle are
more likely to draw media interest. It should not be a one-shot effort, however. You need an ongoing stream of public exposure to keep the pressure on your elected or appointed officials until
the issue is resolved to your satisfaction. And once it is, a final article thanking those who helped
you, especially for elected officials, is in order.
Letters to the editor allow you to be more subjective and make a personal plea for your position.
Create several viewpoints, but the same basic message, for separate letters that can then be
submitted by various members of your organization or coalition.
Keep in mind that the only news value in your issue is how it will affect the public. The media and
public don’t really care if a regulation or law places a hardship on your business. However, they
do care if that hardship ultimately affects them. Consequently, focus on the public impact of your
Letters to the editor must be typed on your letterhead or Coalition letterhead. Begin with the
most important points, for example, how such and such raises consumer prices. Editors always
"cut from the bottom" in fitting stories and letters to the available space so the last few lines of
your letter may be left on the cutting room floor. Therefore, start with the most important point
and work your way down to the less significant.
Today, most editors are using email to correspond with readers. Call your local newspaper, radio
and TV stations and get their email address. Through your initial contact, you may be able to
create a dialogue on the issue and get a reporter interested in the problem. Also, it never hurts to
follow up with a phone call.
If you would like more information on how to pursue a public relations campaign, please contact
ACCA National. We would be pleased to help you craft a unique message.
REHEARSE: The best media interviews require practice, practice, practice. Anticipate questions
and then tailor your response accordingly.
RESEARCH: Do your homework and know as much as you can about the interviewer and his or her
media outlet before you sit down for the interview.
HONESTY: If asked, there's nothing wrong in admitting that you prepared for an interview. After
all, you want the reporter to know that you value good communication with the public; that you
view the reporter's news outlet as an important avenue for reaching the public with accurate
information. And if you don’t know the answer to a question, be honest, and say you don’t
know, but will try and find out and get back to the reporter.
EXPERTISE: In most cases, you're being interviewed as the expert in your field. Know your part and
be the expert.
MESSAGE: Determine in advance the two or three most important points that you want the
reporter to remember from the interview. Focus on conveying those points, perhaps even
repeating them. Humanize your points so the audience can empathize with your message. Use
actual case histories to illustrate your points.
BREVITY: Regardless of whether it's print or broadcast, be prepared to condense your message
into two or three concise sentences- - the audio equivalent of a 15 to 20 second sound bite.
INFORM: Come to the interview armed with facts and examples.
RECORDINGS: If you're being interviewed on the phone, assume the call is being taped.
Remember, you have the right to ask if the call is being taped, and if it is, to request that the
recording device be turned off. However, assume that nothing is off the record, even if the
reporter indicates it is. Never say anything you don’t want to see in print or hear on the air.
BE PERSONABLE: Be friendly. Address reporters by name during the course of the interview.
RELAX: The more prepared you are, the more relaxed and confident you will be. So, practice,
practice, practice.
EASE TENSIONS: Take slow, deep breaths.
BE POSITIVE: Don’t repeat a negative.
Before walking into the room or picking up the phone…
Identify the purpose of the interview. Is the reporter seeking additional information on news
issued by your organization, commentary on industry developments, or competitor news?
What else?
Confirm the reporter's deadline. It could be within minutes of the query, which demands an
immediate response if you want your perspective included. On the other hand, if there's some
time before the story is due, you have the opportunity to confirm the approximate length of
the interview, determine whether the reporter is interested in speaking with you in person or
by phone, and assess your agenda.
Plan your interview agenda. Is your goal to propose a specific story? Seed future coverage? Or
is the interview an opportunity to get acquainted with a new reporter, or publication or station
that may cover your organization in the future?
Find out what you can about the reporter and the media outlet. Has he/she reported on your
organization in the past? What was the tone of the coverage? Obtain copies of these stories,
and review the publication as well. It might also be helpful to learn about the reporter's
previous work, whether in journalism or elsewhere. Does he or she have biases that may
impact the coverage of your organization and industry?
Develop your main message and secondary messages. Your main message is the central point
you want the reporter to remember. It should be simple, clear, and concise. Ideally, you can
say it out loud in 20 seconds or less.
Once you've committed the main message to memory, develop two or more supporting messages
that derive from the main message. Main and supporting messages offer two benefits. First, a
reporter can not take away your key point(s) unless they are absolutely crystal clear – this also
means no jargon, acronyms, and other language whose primary purpose is to sell, rather than tell.
If you follow this approach, the results of the interview should approximate what you expect although there are far too many variables involved to even hope for a perfect match of your input
and a reporter's output.
Second, having main and supporting messages under your hat keeps you organized and focused.
This will keep you in the corral when there is a tendency to stray in response to questions, or even
from your own enthusiasm.
Prepare and rehearse incorporating the main and supporting messages into your interview
before it takes place. Determine their order of importance (the most important message being
first), marshal evidence to support your statements (e.g. industry research, academic studies),
etc. If you have visual aids for reference, practice using them.
Finally, think like the reporter. If you were in that role, what questions would you ask? And
bring up the toughest ones, just so you are prepared. While it is impossible to predict every
question a reporter might ask, or even approximately how they will be asked, a range of
topics is likely to come up. These include general categories of questions, including what
your organization does (e.g. products and services) and what it does not do; how these
products or services are used; their significance in the marketplace; their significance for
your organization; product or service specifications (i.e. technical and other); competition;
corporate or organizational issues; and related industry developments.
SET THE AGENDA: Remember that communication is a two-way street. Just because a reporter is
asking the questions, doesn't mean he or she is the only one who can drive the discussion.
If necessary, establish your own agenda to reiterate your message points. You may not get
another opportunity.
Do be polite and friendly.
Do tell the truth.
Do stick to the facts.
Do remain cool and calm.
Do be helpful.
Do respond with answers.
Do be careful when using humor.
Do plan for interviews.
Do anticipate reporters' needs.
Do remember message points.
Do repeat messages.
Do speak in easily understood language.
Do stay within your area of expertise.
Do clarify any confusing points.
Do remain focused on your answers.
Do establish personal rapport.
Do wait for the next question.
Do speak slowly and confidently.
Do avoid repeating emotional bait.
Do review your performance later.
Do make polite corrections if misquoted.
Be positive.
Don't be argumentative.
Don't lie.
Don't speculate.
Don't lose your temper.
Don't be afraid to say "I don't know."
Don't miss a reporter's deadline.
Don't be sarcastic or flippant.
Don't assume you can "wing it."
Don't forget to offer background
Don't get distracted from your messages.
Don't feel obliged to answer every
question directly.
Don't use jargon.
Don't offer personal opinions when facts
will do.
Don't be afraid to have questions
Don't let interviewer or surroundings
distract you.
Don't appear stiff and wooden.
Don't feel obligated to fill a silence
between questions.
Don't ramble when answering a question.
Don't let the questioner put words in your
Don't be afraid to seek constructive
Don't demand corrections or retractions.
Don’t repeat negatives. For example, if
you are accused of being a crook, as was
Richard Nixon, don’t repeat it by saying, “I
am not a crook.” It only serves to
legitimize the charge.
Why special events? In an age when visibility and image contribute a great deal to effectiveness,
seeing and being seen take on new importance. Chapter meetings/outings, shop tours and special
events will benefit your company and the lawmaker/official at the same time.
Regardless of whether you are hosting a tour of your shop, a chapter meeting or golf outing, you'll
find the following guidelines helpful for visits by elected or appointed officials.
Visiting your company gives government officials a valuable opportunity to meet constituents
(voters!) - your personnel and, in some cases, customers - and help them appreciate the economic
and social contribution you make to the community. Tours and special events allow you to get to
know your legislators and other officials in a setting beyond their routine. It’s special. It gives you
an opportunity to demonstrate and describe your company and ACCA’s progress and challenges.
Prior to setting up your tour or other special event, consider and review the following:
1. What is the purpose of the tour vis a vis our issues? Is the timing appropriate, what is your
legislator or appointed official’s role and position on the issue(s)? How does the visit fit
into our broader strategy?
2. Will the meeting offer an opportunity to explain how an issue(s) affects the company and
community? Or, is the tour only designed to build rapport (which is fine)?
3. What will the legislator gain from the event? In addition to meeting constituents, be sure
to give the official relevant and useful information. If possible, plan follow-up
opportunities for the official to address your personnel and affiliates (vendors, retirees,
family members, etc.). Identify publicity efforts (internal and external) that will be taken to
record the tour. Once published or aired, send copies to the visiting official.
4. Will your company and ACCA benefit from the event? Ensure that the meeting is a prime
opportunity for key company and ACCA members to establish or build upon an existing
relationship with the legislator or official in your community or state capital.
Specific steps needed to ensure the success of your meetings:
1. Contact the official’s office to extend the invitation and set a date. Ask to speak with the
scheduler, if the official has one. Follow up with a letter (preferably signed by your chapter
president) which includes pertinent details: time, place, contact, transportation needs, etc.
Inform other ACCA members involved in the visit of developments on a timely basis.
Ideally, other CEOs would participate in the event. After a few days, call the scheduler or
official to find out the status of your invitation.
2. Find out who will accompany the official and include them in the general activities and
3. Reserve a location. Unless your office is too small, your company location is best. The
minimum requirements: a room large enough to handle the expected number of
attendees, one that accommodates a rostrum, audio/visual capability, and area for
refreshments if desired. The visit may be part of regularly scheduled employee meeting.
4. Set the program for the event. Develop an agenda, based upon the official’s schedule.
Allow enough time to tour the facility (if held at such location), and to enjoy informal
discussions. If the official’s schedule permits, plan for a small gathering before or after the
tour - perhaps a luncheon – with other members of ACCA and/or your coalition allies. The
President of ACCA or his/her designate, should host and MC the event. If appropriate and
the official is amenable, you might want him/her to take a turn waiting on customers - who
will be constituents - or in a production process, perhaps in paperwork processing to show
the amount of forms required by government regulations. Use nametags. It makes it
easier for the official and his/her staff. If employees don't have their own, provide
temporary ones with dark color felt tip pens to write names.
If possible, select areas for the tour that illustrate points in your legislative/regulatory
agenda. Where appropriate, select "guides" in each work area from among the employees
who work there to describe their activity. Highlight employees who are politically active or
who may know the legislator or staff member. Print the agenda for the event and give to
legislator and appropriate host members. Schedule an opportunity for the official to
address a large number of employees and guests. Provide at least 30 minutes for formal
remarks with additional time for questions. Schedule this in your agenda when and where
you can attract the largest audience.
5. Determine if employees and/or other attendees have a close relationship with the
legislator and include them in the tour and meeting.
6. Obtain a bio of the legislator as well as a photo for use in pre-event publicity (if desired)
and introductions. This is available from the official’s staff.
7. Promote the meeting to potential audiences: general employee base, suppliers, and
retirees. If room, invite family members. Promotion should be on going, leading up to the
event in order to maximize turnout.
8. Report the event in the subsequent issue of your newsletters. Arrange for a photographer
to cover the event. Also, have someone available who can cover it from an in-house
communications perspective...public relations specialist. In addition to ensuring that
participating ACCA and allied members get copies, send a set of photos and the draft news
story to ACCA headquarters for possible inclusion in national ACCA publications. Have
staged and candid photos. Send photos with identifying captions to official's district office
accompanying your letter of thanks. If feasible, have someone videotape the presentation
for inclusion in videos that can be shown at chapter, state, and national meetings.
9. Assuming the participating ACCA and allied members concur, contact the local media and
invite them to cover the event. A press advisory should be provided as part of a press kit.
Distribution of the advisory would be coordinated with the district office. The press kit
would include general information about ACCA and its allies plus economic impact in local
economy: number of employees, dollar volume of local sales, and sales and property tax
paid to local governments. All numbers should be compared to total figures within the
area to demonstrate impact of ACCA members. Include relevant issue papers, list of
supporters, generic ACCA brochures explaining who you are, previous press clippings, copy
of your newsletter, etc. At least one member of the host group should be assigned to meet
visiting media and escort them during the tour. Have extra copies of the kit available as
10. Give the official and his/her staff a copy of the kit.
11. Advance work for meeting location: Ensure that all logistics are ready for the visit. Set up
the area with chairs, sound system, video if requested by the official, American and state
flags for the dais, a podium if possible, appropriate campaign posters, etc. if you are
nearing an election. If budget allows, arrange for refreshments. Cater if no in-house
facilities. Walk-through the presentation the previous day with all participants, except
official. A member of his/her staff may join you, however. Make sure all electronic
systems work. Prior to the meeting, check systems again, and set audio levels. If
appropriate, have signup sheet(s), pens at table(s) manned by volunteers to get names,
home addresses, phone numbers, and company affiliation of attendees.
12. Assign someone to receive messages for official during the tour and give him/her agenda so
they can find the official with emergency messages. Leave your telephone number and
contact name with the official’s office.
13. Introduce the official. Following the presentation, present the official with a certificate of
appreciation, etc., which does not conflict with rules regarding gifts.
Follow-up activities are critical to the process. They help ensure that the official continues to
consider your concerns. By notifying national headquarters about the event, we can share your
experience with others. Your evaluation of the event will help improve our approach. Specific
follow up activities include:
1. Send a thank you letter and photos to official. Copy participating members and ACCA
2. Send photo with caption (cutline) to local newspapers if they did not cover event. The
cutline would simply identify the people in the photo and the event. For example:
State Senator John Q. Public (D-3-IL) is shown at the Days Air Conditioning and Heating Co.
on Tuesday with managers and employees of the local members of the (ACCA and/or name
of Coalition). Over 30 employees of Days A/C and Heating met the Senator at the candidate
rally. Shown, left to right, are Sen. Public, etc.
3. Clip and mail newspaper articles and notice of local electronic media coverage to the
official and ACCA headquarters.
4. Compile list of companies who participated and send to ACCA headquarters.
5. Schedule evaluation meeting to assess results, ways to improve, etc. Keep notes on
suggestions and forward copy to ACCA headquarters so your observations can be shared
with others.
6. Plan follow-up contact with official based upon timing of legislative, etc. events. You may
want to schedule another meeting, etc.
7. Put the official's office on your distribution list for newsletters, press releases, and other
relevant announcements. Ask to be put on their list.
Sample Agenda for Tour
10 - 20 minutes
Meet with official in the CEO’s office or conference room to provide an overview
of your company and ACCA’s operation, employees. Invite CEOs of coalition
allies. Give them an opportunity to introduce themselves and their
organizations. Present official and any accompanying staff with information kit.
30 minutes
Personally conducted tour by three or four of your group, introducing official
to personnel who explain their function if not easily apparent. Maintain ongoing discussion which covers issue’s impact on business, role of ACCA (and
allied) members in community - number of employees, charitable activities,
sales and property tax paid, specific issues. Do not make it a monologue but
focus the conversation on your industry and concerns.
30 minutes
Provide an opportunity for the official to address to a large group of
employees and affiliates about current developments on issues of concern
to ACCA/Coalition. Allow time for questions and answers.
30 - 60 minutes
If the official's schedule permits, invite him or her to meet with a small
group of senior staff and allies, perhaps over a meal or at a reception, to
discuss concerns in more detail. Seek the official's views on the issue(s).
You may want to include the same group who met the official initially.
For a special event held at another location, you still want to formally meet the official prior to the
event occurring. Obviously, you eliminate the tour but the balance of the sample agenda is still
appropriate. Tours and special events allow you to get to know your legislators and other
officials in a setting beyond their routine. It’s special.
The Honorable _________________
Office Held
District or Capital Office Address
Dear (title) _________________:
As our district's representative in the (State Legislature, or appointed official), I know that
you value the opportunity to meet your constituents and learn of their views on a first-hand basis.
For this reason, members of (Chapter Name) (and allies if there is a coalition) doing business in
(name of community) invite you and a member of your staff, to visit (fill in name, date and time of
Specifically, I would like to acquaint you with the way we do business as well as give you an
opportunity to meet and speak with employees of member companies of Chapter Name (and allies
if appropriate) who live and work in your district (state). (For tours) In addition to a tour of our
company, you will also have an opportunity to address our assembled employees. (optional)
Should your schedule allow, we would hope that you and your aide would be able to join me and a
small group of senior managers for a brief breakfast (lunch, dinner, reception) following
(preceding) the tour.
I believe that both you and our members will benefit from your visit. I'll be in touch with
your office in a few days to make arrangements.
We look forward to meeting with you.
(Name of community) ACCA (or Coalition)
cc: (District office if sent elsewhere)
(Same address)
Dear (title):
On behalf of Chapter Name (and/or Coalition) members throughout the community, thank
you for taking time to visit (name of location) and meet our employee family. We hope you
benefited from the experience and learned a bit more about our business and the legislative and
regulatory climate under which we operate.
I've enclosed photos of your visit and will send you a copy of our newsletter when it is
published which will feature your visit. We would appreciate being put on your newsletter mailing
list so we can stay current with your activities. I've also enclosed a list of the ACCA (and Coalition if
appropriate) members represented at the meeting - by their employees - and the names of visiting
company CEOs.
(Re-emphasize key points made during the visit: use bullet points)
Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have a question about our business or how a
proposed rule, regulation, or law might affect us. For our part, we will continue to stay in contact.
President (or Chair)
(Name of community) ACCA (or Coalition)
cc: District Office
ACCA Headquarters
CEOs of participating members
To assure that the meeting goes as planned, use this check-off sheet to ensure that you’ve covered
all the details.
Date Completed
Initial Contact
Date Set
Members of Official Party
Planning Tour
Who Knows Visitor
Publicity Material
Kit to Official
Advance Work
Message Center
Publicity Distributed
Thank You Sent
National Code organizations – International Code Council (ICC) and International Association of
Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) are constantly campaigning to get states and
communities to adopt their codes.
Although most of the country is subject to the codes, there are still many areas that have resisted
them. As ACCA manuals are included in both families of codes, we need to maintain neutrality
while at the same time, support both groups’ efforts to bring code protection to all communities.
The states vary considerably in how they treat codes. Some will adopt codes and simply tell their
jurisdictions, here are the codes we adopted. If you, as a jurisdiction, enforce codes, feel free to
use these. There is no enforcement from the state. In some areas, there is no state involvement as
each community acts alone. And obviously, there are areas without codes. It is also common for
both code families to be represented in the same community. IAPMO codes cover four subject
areas where ICC has ten.
From our perspective, the important thing is for the communities to adopt a set of codes. We
don’t care which set as ACCA’s manuals and recommendations are represented in both.
Of note, eleven states indicated they did not adopt statewide codes although some, such as
Alabama, leave it to local jurisdictions (34 states and DC have adopted codes). *
Provide uniformity in codes dealing with HVAC installation
Increase use of ACCA’s technical manuals by convincing communities who have codes to
learn to use and rely upon the ACCA manuals, referenced in several codes.
For communities and states that have failed to adopt national codes, convince them to do
so, and as a result, use ACCA’s technical manuals.
Focus on energy efficiency that has risen to the fore recently as a result of ta nationwide effort to
reduce energy use. ACCA supports the adoption and effective implementation of residential
energy codes because they serve a critical function of establishing a "floor level" of energy
efficiency under which homes cannot legally be built.
In far too many cases the benefits of a residential energy code are not being realized because of
ineffective enforcement, or simply non-adoption of codes.
Such organizations as the Alliance to Save Energy and the Building Codes Assistance Project agree
that by linking home energy ratings to code compliance, code officials, builders, and consumers
can realize the multiple benefits of better designed, better built, and more affordable homes. And
in the present media and judicial environment, the proper design, sizing and installation of an
HVACR system is the best way to ensure comfort and minimize energy.
We have included information on the Model Energy Code, the effectiveness of codes, and the
linkage of residential codes and home energy ratings:
Coordinate efforts with national code organizations to identify “targets of opportunity,” Form
statewide coalitions with local organizations that care about quality and safety as well as safety
and energy efficiency organizations (Residential Energy Services Network - RESNET, Alliance to
Save Energy, etc.) architects (AIA), Air-Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI),
National Assn. of Realtors, National Home Builders Assn., and insurance companies (several trade
Other potential allies are consumer groups, trade associations, utilities, unions, community and
technical colleges, insurance agents, police and fire organizations, etc. They become the building
blocks of your broad-based grassroots network.
The benefits of codes are safety, quality, comfort, energy efficiency, and indoor air quality.
Your first goal is to educate your own ACCA members. Produce an education campaign
that not only focuses on the value of codes, but also would encourage contractors to
actively promote them, thus raising the bar for the entire industry. One obstacle you’ll
have to overcome is the opposition of some contractors who believe the existence of
codes would expose them to challenges by local code officials.
Recruit a champion, someone or some group in a position of authority to help you get
the codes adopted. This can be a legislator, local or state official, or even a powerful
advocacy group, such as your local Realtors Assn. or Chamber of Commerce. With their
extensive contacts throughout the state, much can be done in the name of this “point”
person or advocacy group.
Conduct research to determine which state or local agency is responsible for code
enforcement. Common terms used to designate appropriate agency: Building
Department, Contractor Registration, Mechanical Division, Division of Professional
Regulation, Office of Licensing and Regulation, Director of Business Licensing, Division
of Professional Regulation, Public Works Contractors State Licensing Board, Department
of Labor and Industry, Code Specialist Division of Housing & Development, Construction
Industry, Division of Labor, Examining Board, Department of Labor and Training, State
Mechanical Inspector. Chances are these titles or a variation thereof will get you to the
people you need to contact.
Once you have identified the appropriate state or local agency, arrange a visit with
other coalition members to discuss the issue and gauge the Agency/Department
position, if any. Present your arguments logically and succinctly with appropriate
supporting documents. Provide a leave-behind document that summarizes your
position. The goal is to gain their support. If successful, you have an ally who can walk
you through the steps to achieve your goal, be the vehicle legislation, action by a Board,
a resolution by the legislature, or executive decision by the Governor.
If there is no state or local agency, It may be necessary to contact the chief executive
officer of the government body you are pursuing…Governor, Mayor, Chair of Board of
County Commissioners.
Enlist state legislators in the effort. Draft model resolutions urging adoption of codes for those
states that have not done so. Provide model legislation from other states that have adopted
codes. Through networking, identify sympathetic legislators who could become bill sponsors. Visit
and encourage them to introduce the legislation/resolution.
You may need to educate appointed and elective officials in the Executive branch of the state as to
the need for codes so they:
Recognize the important role the Building Department plays in the mitigation of disaster
and protection of public safety.
Realize that to be totally effective, a successful Building Department must have a set of
uniform building codes they can enforce across the state,
Have a mechanism for solving problems through the use of codes.
To be activated for legislative alerts when legislation, if necessary, is being voted upon, for visits to
state capitals, and letters to the editor and call-in radio shows, and online message boards.
“Even building departments with advanced plan review capabilities are often hardpressed to find the time to determine energy code compliance. It is unrealistic to expect
code enforcement officials, without hardware, software, training, or adequate time, to
perform plan reviews and determine code compliance in the field as part of a jobsite
Alternative Code Implementation Strategies for State” a report by DL Smith and JJ
McCullough prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy
What DOE points out for energy code compliance is equally necessary for other codes. This argues
for ACCA offering EPIC-like courses for code officials - regional or local workshops. Most officials
are unfamiliar with the manuals but are required by law to enforce the proper sizing, etc. of HVAC
systems as referenced by the manuals. To do so, they need orientation on the manuals.
Your training would be a generalized overview of the manuals and their importance, avoiding the
nitty gritty details.
1. The code official has to understand the health benefits, structural protection and energy
efficiency advantages afforded the end user when Manuals J and D are utilized properly;
2. Next, you need to educate the code official on the process so he feels comfortable
reviewing the calculations;
3. Conclude with a demonstration on how to do a simple calculation. Focus on core
principles, such as envelope size, the direction the house faces, types of windows and
location, etc.
The code official does not need to know how to do a calculation, but simply to recognize how they
are done. In practical terms, under one implementation scenario, the code official could simply
ask to see a completed Manual J load calculation form as evidence that the proper procedure was
However, we first need to convince them why a calculation is necessary. ACCA headquarters will
develop the curriculum. It would be delivered locally. The session should last no more than two
If you work in other jurisdictions within the state or have ACCA members in other jurisdictions, ask
them to solicit testimonials from their code officials who endorse the use of codes and our
manuals. Use these endorsements to help convince officials in your community to adopt codes.
Based upon local circumstances, you may find the strategy may vary from jurisdiction to
However, regardless of your approach, there has to be a champion within your chapter who will
lead the way. You need someone to work with code officials to educate them on the need for
proper load calculations and installation practices - as detailed in the ACCA technical manuals.
Stress the value of codes and show what happens when you do not have or enforce codes. Include
examples of disasters where lack of codes and/or enforcement heightened the impact of the
The new Manual J can be the news hook for your release: the industry standard endorsed by the
Department of Energy, Energy Star and AHRI. Refer readers to the ACCA website for more
information on Manual J as well as the other manuals in the ACCA technical library.
For Immediate Release
Contact: (contact name and phone number)
(your jurisdiction) adopts 20xx International Codes (or 20xx IAPMO Codes)
(your jurisdiction) joins a growing number of communities and states throughout the country that
have updated building codes by adopting the 20xx International Codes (or 20xx International
Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials ((IAPMO)) Codes).
“Building codes provide local government with a way to guard the public’s personal safety,
much like traffic laws regulate driving,” said (your title, organization and first and last name).
“Construction codes also ensure the economic well-being of our community. They reduce the
potential spread of fire and disease. They tell consumers that homes and commercial buildings in
our community are built as safe as possible.”
The 20xx (appropriate year) International Codes (20xx IAPMO) are a set of comprehensive,
coordinated national model regulatory construction codes. For thousands of years, building codes
and regulations have protected the public. The earliest known code of law — the Code of
Hammurabi, king of the Babylonian Empire, written in 2200 BC — assessed penalties if a building
was constructed improperly. The 20xx International Codes (20xx IAPMO) protect the public, reduce
potential hazards, and provide building standards and lower construction and insurance costs.
“Today, we use and enforce modern building codes that address structural, fire, electrical
and mechanical safety as well as health, security and energy conservation,” said (your last name).
“Our job is to make sure that homes, schools, businesses and other structures are safe places to
live, work and play. We inspect construction projects at several stages to ensure that happens.”
(Use the following descriptions to describe the codes you have adopted. For this example, the ICC
codes are referenced).
The20xx International Building Code addresses design and installation of building systems
with requirements that emphasize performance. The 20xx International Residential Code brings
uniformity to construction of one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses up to three stories
high. The 20xx International Fire Code, coordinated with the International Building Code,
references national standards to comprehensively address fire safety in new and existing buildings.
The 20xx International Plumbing Code sets minimum provisions for fixtures, piping, fittings and
devices as well as design and installation methods for water supply, sanitary drainage and storm
drainage. The 20xx International Private Sewage Disposal Code details septic tank and effluent
absorption, and other disposal systems. It contains provisions for evaluating site and soil
conditions, outlines use of methods and materials, and includes tables for pressure distribution
The 20xx International Mechanical Code comprehensively regulates mechanical systems
and equipment including heating, ventilation, air conditioning, exhaust systems, chimneys and
vents, ducts, appliances, boilers, water heaters, refrigeration, hydronic piping and solar systems.
The 20xx International Fuel Gas Code contains complete requirements for fuel-gas piping systems,
equipment and accessories. It includes combustion air requirements, sizing tables for venting
Category I appliances and provisions that are coordinated with the National Fuel Gas Code (ANSI
The 20xx International Property Maintenance Code addresses maintenance requirements
for the interior and exterior of structures, and space requirements for determining maximum
occupancy. The IPMC also contains requirements for heating and plumbing in existing workplaces,
hotels and residential occupancies, and minimum light and ventilation criteria.
The 20xx International Energy Conservation Code covers energy efficiency provisions for
residential and commercial buildings, prescriptive- and performance-based approaches to energyefficient design, and building envelope requirements for thermal performance and air leakage.
The 2000 International Zoning Code contains uniform requirements for use districts and five
zoning classifications, consistent zoning requirements that can be tailored to specific jurisdictional
needs, and coordinated requirements and definitions related to the International Building Code.
The 20xx ICC Electrical Code contains administrative text necessary to administer and
enforce the National Electrical CodeВ® and complies with electrical provisions contained in the
other International Codes.
Prepare op-eds (opposite editorial page opinion articles) for use by respected or knowledgeable
spokespersons - Congresspersons and Senators as well as state and local business, government,
safety, etc. leaders, and/or groups in urging adoption of one of the national code families. The
article should stress the advantages of “doing it right the first time,” for this is what codes do. You
will need to identify and then recruit these opinion leaders to sign the op-eds, which you can
author for them.
Prepare letters which can be submitted by local supporters – the grassroots network. Prepare a
variety of letters dealing with the various benefits of code adoption.
Generate editorial support from general circulation newspapers, building-official publications and
electronic media by calling on those who develop their editorial policy. Once you have set up the
meeting, include three or four representatives of your coalition to help make your case. Refer to
and leave behind a media kit: sample editorials, factsheet, position paper, success stories as well
as horror stories, previous press coverage, and contact list of coalition members.
"It's not a spectator sport. You can't sit on the sidelines and say somebody else will do it...I can
think of cases where I've had handwritten letters from people that I knew were genuine and sincere
that affected my vote on farm legislation or social security or some issue of that kind. Once person
can always make a difference."
—Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole
As Senator Dole wrote, each letter has impact. He has said that one letter represents the views of
500 people who didn’t take the time to write. Thus, a handful of letters has tremendous impact.
*Source: ACCA State Licensing Report, 1999-2000