A Day in the Life of an NWCUA Lobbyist

NWCUA’s Mark Minickiello briefs Lt. Governor Brad Owen on progress of credit union legislation.

Part dust storm and part sunshine, all while propelling down a seemingly endless waterslide. That’s the life of Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) lobbyist Mark Minickiello as he continues to advocate for Northwest credit unions this month at the Washington Legislature in Olympia.

The legislature meets for an abbreviated session during even-numbered years, making clock management as critical to lobbyists as it is to an NFL coach during the final two minutes of a hotly contested playoff game. It was only fitting, then, that Minickiello’s day began on Feb. 22 with the lobbyist’s version of searching for the end zone while the marching band storms the field.

Wednesday, Feb. 22, was “Navy Day” at the Capitol, and while the Navy Band prepared to play in the rotunda, Minickellio was weaving his way through the trumpet section to the chamber of the House of Representatives, grabbing various members for quick updates on the NWCUA’s legislative priorities.

Not even the resonance of a blaring tuba jarred him from his focused mission. Minickiello is currently tracking four bills for the NWCUA, and all four are churning in the legislative bingo drum, with one or more of them ready to pop onto the floor for a vote at any time. You could call it just another day for Minickiello, because the only certainty in legislature is that no two days are alike.

Minickiello MBL
NWCUA’s Mark Minickiello discussing Member Business Lending legislation with Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

After the morning’s dance with the band, at noon it was off to a meeting with the United Financial Lobby for a brief lunch discussion with visiting Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers. Minickiello informed her that House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus has told credit unions and banks to work together on legislation that would combine the bankers’ Communities First bill with the credit unions’ member business lending (MBL) legislation. He received an approving nod.

At 1 p.m., Minickiello jettisoned over to the Capitol for a private meeting with Lt. Governor Brad Owen to discuss progress on the NWCUA’s public funds legislation. As Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, Owen plays a pivotal role in ensuring the bill moves out of his committee in a timely fashion to beat the legislative clock. Owen and his staff took careful notes and assured Minickiello that he would track the committee’s progress and address them in a timely manner.

A mad dash to a neighboring office building quickly found Mark being greeted by Rep. Steve Kirby, Chairman of the House committee that was handling Senate Bill 5913, the public funds bill that would go on to pass the House on Monday, Feb. 27. Minickiello and Kirby discussed strategy to ensure movement to the House floor. Kirby is a strong supporter of the legislation and appreciated Minickiello’s assistance in efforts to handle any unforeseen roadblocks that might emerge.

After exchanging personal pleasantries, Minickiello was sprinting again, this time to the Senate Hearing room, where Sen. Steven Hobbs was about to take testimony from the NWCUA on the House version of the public funds bill (HB 1327). A quick straightening of the tie and readjustment of the sport coat, and moments later Minickiello was giving riveting testimony on the merits of the legislation. It lasted all of 37 seconds. In a compressed session, that’s all a lobbyist gets as legislators work through a stack of legislative paper.

Minickiello Multi Tasking
NWCUA Government Affairs Lobbyist, Mark Minickiello multi-tasking at the State Capitol in Olympia

The truth of the matter, though, is that Minickiello’s real work has been done in the weeks prior, and Sen. Hobbs is a strong supporter. There is an old legislative saying that when you have already made your case, the question becomes, “Do you want to talk, or do you want your bill?” Minickiello simply added the necessary exclamation point, and the bill was signed off by the committee by a vote of 7-0.

Minickiello then quickly moved on to track legislation dealing with debt adjusters and real estate short sales, ensuring that every member understands any issues the NWCUA may have. He concluded his day by writing a thorough report to NWCUA Vice President and General Counsel Stacy Augustine and preparing his calendar for the next day of legislative jousting.

The marathon doesn’t end until the final gavel falls and things can change in an instant. It takes constant vigilance. By then, of course, Minickiello will have worn out another pair of shoes sprinting across the Capitol—and NWCUA members will know their interests have been given the strongest advocacy possible.

Just another day telling the credit union story.

 

Questions? Contact a member of the Association’s Legislative Affairs team:

Jennifer Wagner, Director of Legislative Advocacy
Mark Minickiello, Vice President, Legislative Affairs
Stacy Augustine, Senior Vice President & General Counsel

Posted in Advocacy News, Business Solutions, Industry Insight, NWCUA.