Question: Does MEMA only work on oil industry legislation?
Answer: No. Like any industry trade group, our primary focus is on oil industry related issues. However, we also realize a responsibility to our customers. Our customers who pay higher taxes and fees leaves less money for them to buy our products...so we generally oppose higher taxes and fees as a result. We also work on workers' comp, general energy industry legislation effecting natural gas and electricity [our competitors!], a long list of environmental legislation as well as transportation and insurance issues.
Question: Who decides what issues to work on and what position MEMA will take on those issues?
Answer: That depends on the issue. MEMA has several committees, so any issue within the jurisdiction of that committee would receive the bill, review it and its effects on the industry, and then come to a conclusion about what position to take. For example, the 1998 changes to the state motor fuels excise tax collection system that MEMA sponsored were all driven from the MEMA motor fuels committee. Any MEMA member is eligible to join a committee, and every committee operates on a "one-company, one-vote" principle...so each and every member's opinion and vote counts. Majority rules...so if a majority of the committee takes a position, that becomes the MEMA position on that issue. We speak with one voice as an Association...or we don't speak.
Question: Who lobbies legislators?
Answer: You do! MEMA staff identifies the bills we need to watch as they are printed...then refers them to the appropriate committee for action, then we engage our membership in speaking with individual legislators about those issues. Every MEMA member in Maine has a State House and a State Senate member who represents the district their business is located in. We emphasize the need for the people closest to each and every House and Senate member being in close touch with those members on issues. Then, MEMA's Legislative Committee encourages those local members to make their calls, write the letters, come to hearings and worksessions to reinforce our approach to the issues.
Question: How will I know what to do?
Answer: Throughout the year you will receive information from MEMA about a piece of legislation. The "Legislative Bulletin" will tell you about the issue, its impact on your business and the industry, and ask you to call your local legislator [we provide names and phone numbers]. The bulletin will include straightforward talking points to assist you in organizing your own thoughts. Then, a District Head from the MEMA Legislative Committee [a fellow MEMA member], will call you and see how you're doing and ask if you need any help and whether you have made your contact. You can also always call the MEMA office for clarification and information as well.
If you come to a hearing, we can assist you with drafting talking points and testimony and be with you the whole time you're there. If you need a hand, someone from MEMA will always be there to help you.