Advocacy & Resources Legislative Lighthouse

Legislative Lighthouse

VNLA/(ANLA) AmericanHort Legislative Lighthouse Program

As Congress begins again, our elected leaders will take actions that will directly affect the success of your business for years to come. Whether Congressional decisions are favorable toward the green industry depends on you, as well as every other American whose livelihood depends upon green business interests. As an Active VNLA member, you have access to an easy way to check on the status of current legislation and to easily contact your Congressmen to let them know your views on issues that impact your business.

What is the Lighthouse Program, and Why Grassroots?
How Does the Lighthouse Program Work?
Do I Need to Be an (ANLA) AmericanHort Member to Participate?
Where to learn about federal actions that could affect your business
Tips on Voicing the Concerns of the Green Industry to Congress and the Public
Alerts: Only Have a Minute? The Lighthouse Program Makes It Easy
How Can I Quadruple the Voice of My Business?
What if I Am an (ANLA) AmericanHort Member Too?
How to Write Letters to Congress Using Lighthouse Program Web Tools

What is the Lighthouse Program, and Why Grassroots?

The Lighthouse Program is a partnership between your state nursery and landscape association and (ANLA) AmericanHort. As a member of a state organization, you are enrolled as a participant. The Lighthouse Program is meant to foster a strong partnership among participating states and (ANLA) AmericanHort to convey a single and effective voice to Congress. Your state association is providing you, as a member benefit, with access to Lighthouse Program information and communication tools to educate elected officials as to how your business interests are affected, for better or for worse, by federal law.

This new partnership can empower the industry to have a stronger voice in the halls of Congress. Businesses such as yours, at the local “grassroots” level know and care that government action affects your success and the green industry as a whole. Through this program, you can help control your fate and the fate of the industry. Many individuals investing a small amount of time to use Lighthouse Program materials and tools can have a major effect on lawmakers’ decisions and on how businesses shape their future!

How Does the Lighthouse Program Work?

The Lighthouse Program capitalizes on the strengths and the roles of both (ANLA) AmericanHort and state association partners. (ANLA) AmericanHort is now providing Partner State Associations with articles and issue papers describing critical legislation and national issues. Watch for them in your own state’s newsletter or magazine, along with tips on how to write or call your Congressman, or host a nursery visit to get to know and educate your elected leaders.

You also will hear directly from the Lighthouse Program when there is a need to mobilize to support or fight specific legislation or a federal rule. This won’t happen too often, only a few times per year. When it does, you will receive specific instructions on whom to contact, and suggestions on what to write or say.

Do I Need to Be an (ANLA) AmericanHort Member to Participate?

The Lighthouse Program is intended to build a grassroots network that eventually reaches all state association members. You need not be an (ANLA) AmericanHort member to participate. However, there are many other ways in which (ANLA) AmericanHort serves member firms. If you are not already a member, we invite you to join. For details visit www.(ANLA)
Lighthouse Program Tools

Where to learn about federal actions that could affect your business

Each Lighthouse partner state association has set up a legislative website created by Capitol Advantage. These sites allow you to look up information on your state legislature’s activities. They also show the most urgent pending federal action and are directly linked to (ANLA) AmericanHort’s Lighthouse webpage (www.(ANLA) (ANLA) AmericanHort’s Lighthouse page has program information and grassroots tips. The (ANLA) AmericanHort Legislative Action site has contact information for lawmakers, current issues, and timely action alerts and sample letters when grassroots action by the nursery and landscape industry is needed. Here are the website addresses of the Lighthouse Program Partners:

Other states participating in this program with Virginia are: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas.

The best way to begin is to visit your state’s legislative website ( ) and click on your state’s Federal Lighthouse page link. Check periodically to see what key bills are being considered by Congress that will affect your business.

Also, keep an eye on your state association newsletters as they will be posting articles to keep you informed of pending legislation and emerging national issues. When alerted, please take a minute to write or call your representatives and make your voice heard regarding legislation that will impact your business and the industry.

Tips on Voicing the Concerns of the Green Industry to Congress and the Public

Unsure about how to effectively build a relationship with your elected leaders and staff? Visit the Lighthouse website at www.(ANLA) By clicking on “Grassroots Resources” you can view the (ANLA) AmericanHort Grassroots Action Guide, which will guide you through the basic steps to communicating with Congress. Drop by your state association webpage (see list of addresses above) and click on the link to state and federal legislation. Then Click on “Congressional Delegation” where you will see your state’s elected officials. Here you can link to “Send Message” in order to contact your representative.

Alerts: Only Have a Minute? The Lighthouse Program Makes It Easy

We understand that running a successful business is time consuming and business people have limited time to follow the political process. Therefore, at key points in the political process when there is an urgent need for the industry to be heard, you will get a Legislative Alert by fax or email with specific instructions on what is needed. Usually, the Legislative Action website will feature a sample letter which you can personalize and send to your elected leaders by email, mail or fax. It only takes a few minutes to do your part. Here’s how….

What if I Am an (ANLA) AmericanHort Member Too?

(ANLA) AmericanHort members have formed the core of the industry’s grassroots power base for years. Most are already trained and empowered to take action on issues important to them. When Lighthouse alerts are issued, some members may receive more than one alert, possibly through different communication channels. If so, please take the requested action, and share any extra alerts with a key employee or other industry businesspersons. (ANLA) AmericanHort members also have exclusive access to federal law compliance information, expert legal consultants, and other benefits. For details on membership, visit www.(ANLA)

What Industry Issues Will Be Important in the Coming Year?

Some issues are certain to grab the attention of Congress and the Obama Administration in 2012, others are less predictable. Some likely industry priorities will include:

Labor & Immigration Reform – (ANLA) AmericanHort will push hard for enactment of guest worker program reforms and opportunities for the experienced, but improperly documented, workforce to earn legal status over time.

Economic Stimulus and Tax Reform – Measures to stimulate economic growth are certain to be enacted. Some could have a bottom line impact on business. Others, such as repeal or scaling back of the estate tax, are less certain in the current budget climate.

Health Care – Congress is expected to address health care reforms. One provision (ANLA) AmericanHort will urge is Association Health Plan legislation that will empower trade associations to offer members more competitive coverage.

Green Industry Research – (ANLA) AmericanHort will work for increases in the USDA’s Nursery and Floriculture Research Initiative partnership designed to fund long-term research into production, delivery and improvement of plants, environmental management, and other critical needs.

How to Write Letters to Congress Using Lighthouse Program Web Tools

Go to your state association’s webpage and follow their links to the Legislative Action page; or,

Click on your state’s link to the Lighthouse Page
Enter the Legislative Action site,
Click on “Legislative Update” Button and go to Issues and Legislation, then click on Legislative Alerts.
View the posted Alerts, and select the appropriate issue.
Enter your zip code for a sample letter. Personalize it, then print and fax, or send as an email.

Tips on Sending Conventional Letters, Faxes, or Emails

Since September 11, 2001, it has become timelier to fax or email letters to Congressional offices. Conventional letters ca still be sent; however, allow several weeks for delivery.

Use your company’s letterhead or personal stationary. Also, always include a return address and contact information.

Relate your reason for writing to a personal experience. Explain how legislation would affect your business, your fellow employees and the community in which you live.

Concentrate on your own elected officials within your state or congressional district. See the Lighthouse Congressional Directory for a listing of your senators and representatives.

Spread the word. If you know of other industry colleagues, other pro-business citizens, friends or family who also have a stake in the outcome of a piece of legislation, let them know they too can make a difference.

Be brief. Tell why you are writing and get right to the point. If you know the name or number of the bill that is of interest to you, include it. If not, give as much information as possible about the bill.

Use (ANLA) AmericanHort sample letters as guidelines. Make sure to personalize your letter so it will gain much more attention!

Be sure to send a copy of your letter and any response received to (ANLA) AmericanHort so that we can follow up as deemed appropriate.

For questions or feedback, contact: VNLA office, 1-800-476-0055.

Thank you for reading!