Spreading the fraternal message in Oregon…

As you read this, a delegation of Alliance members will be starting a series of meetings with Oregon legislators intended to increase lawmakers’ awareness of the fraternal community’s impact in the state. Our group includes two home office government affairs professionals; a home office fraternal executive; a fraternal field representative who lives in Salem, Oregon; a board member from a mid-sized fraternal who lives in Eugene, Oregon; the Alliance’s retained lobbyist in the state; and yours truly.

It’s a diverse group that includes representatives of faith-based, ethnic, and general fraternals. I can’t think of a more qualified or committed delegation to spread the fraternal message to legislators in the state where the overall fraternal presence is fairly modest.

The reason the Alliance is organizing this effort is because, earlier this year, there was legislation introduced in the state that would have undermined fraternals’ ability to fulfill their financial and community service missions. While we successfully defeated that bill, it appears likely that some version of the measure will be re-introduced in 2019. As a result, we need to make sure state lawmakers have a much better understanding of who we are and what we do before the 2019 legislative session begins.

Oregon has a unique series of events called “Legislative Days” where individuals and groups have the opportunity to meet with policymakers in advance of the next legislative session to voice their concerns about issues that may be addressed in the coming year. From Monday through Wednesday of this week, Alliance representatives will be meeting with members of the two key committees that would consider measures affecting fraternals, as well as the leadership of the state House and Senate.

Member response to our call for action on this issue was enthusiastic. Even though there are no domiciled societies in the state, 30 Alliance members are licensed to do business there and nearly 60,000 individuals belong to a fraternal. But it’s our record of community service that really makes a compelling case for ensuring that fraternals are allowed to continue to serve their members and the communities in which they live and work without the enactment of legislation that could impede their ability to operate.

I’ll let you know the results of our efforts in next week’s post. In the meantime, wish us luck and tip your hat to the folks from Thrivent Financial, Knights of Columbus, Modern Woodmen of America, WoodmenLife, and Sons of Norway who are investing their time, energy, and effort in this critically important advocacy initiative for the benefit of all Alliance members.

 

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