Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Harrisburg to spend the day shadowing one of Bravo Group’s Government Relations team members, Margaret Durkin. Margaret was kind enough to show me around the city and introduce me to a side of the firm that I had not had the chance to interact with this summer.
We spent the majority of the day in a meeting discussing a bill that is to be introduced that would amend the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act was passed in 2008 as a way to ban smoking in public areas (think restaurants and workplaces).
However, eight years later, there remains loopholes in the bill that allow smoking in specific public spaces. The American Heart Association, Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Cancer Society and other groups are fighting to close these loopholes and make Pennsylvania a more smoke-free state.
Given that the American Cancer Society is one of our clients, it is Margaret’s role to represent ACS and advocate for its needs. The meeting I attended included advocates from various industries with a desire to end smoking, as well as lobbyists, lawyers and other people with insight into this topic.
As an outside to the world of government relations and the world of tobacco control, I was amazed by all of the opinions and factors that need to be considered when lobbying for a bill. Going into the day, I anticipated that the approach would be straightforwards. I’ve been taught my entire life about the risks of smoking, and it seemed natural that the government would want to regulate smoking in public areas for the health of the public.
However, what I learned quickly was that getting things passed is not as straightforward as it might appear to the general onlooker. The people in the meetings discussed obstacles that I never would have considered, ranging from the personal opinions of members of the House of Representatives and Senate to which counties have casinos and even considering what other bills have been passed this year.
It was eye-opening and intriguing to see the discussions that take place in developing a strategy to advocate for a bill.
I am grateful for the opportunity to once again be exposed to the variety and passion that Bravo Group is a part of. I’ve learned throughout my time here that each person’s job is unique and fascinating. The variety of work that takes place at the firm has been one of my favorite parts about interning here this summer, and I”m lucky that I had the opportunity to see another side of it before my time here is over.
Kate Foley | Philadelphia