Melanie Coen
Dole Institute of Politics

Dole Institute summer fellow hosts multi-session primer on government lobbying

Thu, 05/14/2015

LAWRENCE — The Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas will host Bob Steil, Dole summer fellow and government affairs expert, for this summer’s study group: Government Relations & Lobbying: A Primer.

Study Group sessions will take place at 3 p.m. every Tuesday in June at the Dole Institute.

Steil will take a closer look into the inner workings of the political process through the examination of government relations activities with a special focus on the integral aspects of lobbying. Special guests will explore the various facets of this field on both state and federal levels.

“People often think of government relations or lobbying work in a very negative light, but the truth of the matter is that government relations professionals have a more positive and nuanced role in legislation,” said Dole Institute Director Bill Lacy. “I believe this series of programs will help people better understand exactly what lobbyists do.”

Steil leads his own government relations consulting firm. From 2005-2013, he was the assistant vice president of state government relations at Genworth Financial Services Corporation in Washington, D.C. Steil was the director of government affairs at American Medical Security from 1999-2005, the state affairs counsel for United Healthcare from 1997-1999 and the senior counsel for state affairs at Health Insurance Association of America from 1984-1997. Steil holds a law degree from Washington University School of Law and is licensed to practice in the state of Illinois.

Throughout the past 36 years, Steil has done government relations work at both the state and federal levels. He has worked in the private sector with major insurance-affiliated organizations, and also in the public sector, managing a state and federal government affairs staff. Steil has represented entities before more than 30 state legislatures, agencies and governor’s offices, as well as before Congress and various federal agencies, overseeing and engaging directly in all facets of government relations activities.

Steil’s summer Study Group sessions are as follows:

Week 1—General Overview of Lobbying
3 p.m. Tuesday, June 2

Tim Powers of Artemis Strategies in Washington, D.C., will discuss what is involved in lobbying as well as the difference between federal and state lobbying. Powers also will shed light on the public’s image of lobbyists, why one would become a lobbyist, and how to define success and what “works” for a lobbyist. Special attention will be given to conduct regulations and ethics.

Week 2—State Lobbying: A National Trade Association’s Multi-State Perspective
3 p.m. Tuesday, June 9

Guest speaker Mark Pratt will define the functions of a national trade association and how it handles state lobbying. Discussion topics will include whether lobbying approaches are uniform across state lines, how lobbying efforts are received in states, and if trade associations secure the services of local lobbyists.

Week 3—Federal Lobbying
3 p.m. Tuesday, June 16

Kristen Freitas, senior director of federal affairs at HDMA in Washington, D.C., will outline the components of federal lobbying and the differences between working with Congress, the White House and federal agencies. Freitas will talk about whom lobbyists mainly interact with and how “gridlock” affects lobbying activities.

Week 4—Lobbying From a Kansas Legislator’s Perspective
3 p.m., Tuesday, June 23

State Sen. Susan Wagle will join the conversations to discuss perceptions of lobbyists and the “good” and “bad” approaches lobbyists take. Wagle and Steil will also look into what motivates legislators in terms of promoting legislation and pressures to vote with “the party” vs. individual initiatives.

Week 5—Lobbying in Kansas

3 p.m. Tuesday, June 30

William Sneed of Polsinelli in Topeka will talk about what is unique to lobbying in Kansas. He’ll also cover the importance of relationship building, how lobbyists familiarize themselves with issues, what roles relationships with outside interests play and more. Sneed also will discuss the need and ability to lobby on both sides of the aisle.

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