Every year, across many states, an event called CPA Day at the Capitol takes place in each participating state’s capitol where CPAs and others important stakeholders in the accounting profession (such as CPA candidates and students) kick off advocacy efforts for the upcoming legislative year.
This is an important way to increase the visibility of the profession in the political arena and fight for legislation to keep CPAs as an integral asset to businesses and consumers across your state. It’s you’re your chance to inform legislators about the important issues facing the CPA profession.
Here’s how and why you should get involved at your state’s CPA Day at the Capitol.
Check your State’s Date for this Event
Go to your state society’s home page and search for information regarding this event. They may also have variations of what they call it. For example, Georgia refers to it as “CPA Day at the Gold Dome.”
Next, register to attend the event. If you’re a member of your current state society, you may be able to attend the event for free. If not, you may have to pay a fee. This will differ from state to state.
Know the Logistics
Your state society should provide an itinerary or schedule for what will be taking place throughout the day. It should include additional information such as:
- Location of sign-in
- Where to park
- Start and end time of appointments with legislators
- Information about a reception to follow
- Dress attire
- What to bring (such as business cards)
- Important talking points
- Any other information you need to know
Know What to Expect
Every year, numerous pieces of legislation are introduced to each state that could potentially impact CPAs, their profession, and their clients. The objective of this event is to develop relationships with your state’s general assembly by providing insight and sharing your thoughts about issues facing the accounting industry.
Therefore, what typically occurs is you will meet your elected representatives to inform them about the crucial role CPAs play in their local and business communities, as well as the current obstacles they’re facing and what you’re hoping they can do to proactively address them.
Prepare in Advance
Each state faces different economical, social, and political issues that all affect the profession differently. This is your chance to make your voice heard and to affect the CPA profession to ensure that it remains relevant with integrity. Therefore, it’s important that you come prepared. Legislators have a very tight schedule and you want to make sure you use your time with them efficiently and effectively. Here are some great tips on what to do when meeting with your elected officials, provided by the Georgia State Society of CPAs.
Prepare for Your Meeting
- Read through your talking points. Prepare any other resources or materials that you can leave with your elected official and his staff.
- Decide who will attend the meeting. Bringing more than four or five people can be hard to manage.
- Plan out your meeting. People can get nervous in a meeting, and time is limited. Be sure that you lay out the meeting beforehand, including who will start the conversation.
- Decide what you want achieve. What is it you want your elected official to do ‐‐ vote for or against the bill? Make a commitment to introduce or co‐sponsor legislation? Asking your legislator or his or her staff member to do something specific will help you know how successful your visit has been!
During the Visit
- Before you enter the office, gather outside the entrance with your group and take a picture. This will provide a powerful visual for your action and help create a story that can be shared. Feel free to take pictures once you enter the office as well, if the staff will allow it.
- Be prompt and patient. Elected officials run on very tight schedules. Be sure to show up on time for your
- appointment, and be patient ‐‐ it is not uncommon for legislators to be late or to have your meeting interrupted by other business.
- Make introductions and be clear who is a constituent in the meeting. Make sure to also identify yourself as part of any CPA organization you belong to.
- Stick to your talking points! Personalize your comments and provide local context. Personal stories and local examples help illustrate why your issue is important.
- Keep it short and focused! You will have 20 minutes or less with a staff person, and as little as 10 minutes if you meet with your elected official. Make the most of that brief time by sticking to your topic.
After the Meeting
- Right after the meeting, compare notes with everyone in your group to understand what the elected official committed to do and what follow up information you committed to send.
- Each person who took part in the meeting should promptly send a personal thank you letter to your elected official. Remind the elected official of anything he or she may have agreed to do.
- Follow up in a timely fashion with any requested materials and information.
We hope you all get a chance to partake in this very important event with your state. We highly encourage and recommend all CPA Exam candidates, CPAs, firms, and even professors in the accounting space to attend and have their voices heard to change legislation for our industry and profession for the better.