ACA International’s state and federal advocacy teams are focused on connecting with new members of Congress and state legislatures. Editor’s note: This article is available for members only.
Making our voice heard has always been a priority on Capitol Hill and at the state legislatures, and with a shift in leadership after the elections comes new opportunities and new challenges.
The general mission of ACA International’s advocacy priorities in the 117th Congress and with state legislatures is no different—even with the historical changes that occurred in the last year and few months leading up to the elections.
ACA seeks to educate and work with legislators on both sides of the aisle and 2021 presents the opportunity to work with many new leaders on Capitol Hill and in the states.
That said, ACA developed tailored advocacy strategies for each political outcome in Washington, D.C. With the Democrats’ sweep following the Georgia runoff elections and now their close majority in the Senate, ACA is beginning to enact its plan for working with new members and continuing to advocate for progress on modernization of industry laws and fair and balanced regulations for the accounts receivable management (ARM) industry and consumers.
In the week leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, ACA is finalizing its federal advocacy priorities and plans to educate new committee ranking members and influential members of Congress who work with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters.
“There are a lot of new members, so we have a lot of opportunities for education to advance our advocacy,” said Leah Dempsey, ACA’s vice president and senior counsel of federal advocacy.
Seven new senators were elected in November: U.S. Sens. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., Roger Marshall, R-Kan., Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., and Cynthia Loomis, R-Wyo.
In the House, there are at least 60 new members, including many on the Financial Services Committee led by Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and the Energy and Commerce Committee led by Chairman U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is likely the new chair of the Senate Banking Committee.
At the state level, ACA Vice President of State Government and Unit Affairs Andrew Madden said more than 270 bills that could impact the ARM industry have already been introduced this year and that number is expected to nearly double by mid-March.
In 2020, there were more than 900 bills and 1,300 executive orders along with dozens of emergency regulations on state closures and requirements for employees and agencies licensed in the industry.
All 50 state legislatures will convene in 2021 while complying with a wide array of COVID-19 restrictions. Nearly 40 of these legislatures have already started meeting to elect their leadership. make committee assignments and assign bills to the appropriate committee.
States also continue to lead when it comes to issues like remote work rules and licensing that could intersect with laws and rules at the federal level.
In 2021, one of ACA’s top advocacy goals on behalf of members is to show the ARM industry’s important role in a functioning economy and ensuring consumers can continue to access credit as Congress considers legislation that may impact these abilities.
Advocacy Opportunities for Members
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual meetings with legislators have become an increasingly popular option—or sometimes the only option.
ACA encourages members interested in advocacy to connect with their legislators. Some may be available for in-person meetings or agency tours as the year goes on and at the least will host virtual town halls when they are on breaks from Washington, D.C., or their state legislative session.
ACA will continue to keep members in the know about advocacy opportunities with your association. Be sure to check our website, acainternational.org, and log in to My ACA to subscribe to member alerts, events, and education opportunities and ACA Daily.
Our daily ACA Huddle series on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s debt collection rule concluded Jan. 15, and after that the weekly series will resume to provide members the latest updates on state and federal advocacy. Check out our online events calendar for the latest information.
ACA’s mobile app is also an exclusive place for members to stay connected and interact with other members. Learn more here and download today for access to ACA resources on your smartphone or tablet.
Visit ACA’s online Advocacy Resource Center at www.acainternational.org/advocacy, which provides tools to help you advocate for the industry when meeting with your lawmakers and regulators.