As a new year begins, so does the start of legislative sessions across the United States. State capitols are teeming with life, awakened from the peaceful slumber of interims. Elected officials dust off their procedure handbooks and begin the arduous task of governance.
This is the arena in which I find myself and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Since joining the Premium Cigar Association in 2016, my mission has been to advocate, promote, defend, and lobby our members’ interests in state capitols across the Rocky Mountain region. My counterparts, who oversee the other regions, share and hold this same mission. Our passion has —and always will be, our members and their businesses.
The reality is, state level policies have a tremendous impact on your business. From employment and labor laws to public health, zoning, taxes, and tobacco regulation, the industry that we know and love is under attack. This is why our work is needed now more than ever before, and we are resolute in our commitment to protecting the premium cigar and pipe tobacco industry.
Not being engaged in the process revives the old saying, “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu”. State legislatures for the most part are truly citizen legislatures. They are lawyers, small business owners, ranchers, and activists. The average lawmaker is not knowledgeable of our industry. It is our job to provide this education, but, we cannot bear this burden alone.
Our members must engage with government and work to defend their livelihood. Across my region, PCA members have stepped up to work alongside me. A call to a legislator, an email, a testimony on a bill, and even a request to have a legislator visit your shop can make the difference in a harmful bill passing or failing. These small practices have proven themselves time and time again.
Grassroots engagement by members has allowed us to defeat tax increases in Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming. We implemented a cigar tax cap in New Mexico and amended a ballot measure in Oregon that would have removed the cigar tax cap entirely.
Our work is far from over. Each year, our work at the state level grows larger. Our advocacy efforts become more effective and our accomplishments empower others. Let us achieve these goals together as a team and pave the way for the next generation of tobacconists.
Regional Lobbyists and Contact Information by State
Tyler Henson (firstname.lastname@example.org), Regional Lobbyist:
- Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
Brett Mecum (email@example.com), Regional Lobbyist:
- Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin
David Jessup (firstname.lastname@example.org), Regional Lobbyist:
- Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia
Rachel Hall (email@example.com), Senior Director of State Affairs