by Jagruti Panwala
AAHOA Vice Chairwoman (2018-2019)
AAHOA is working hard to build strong relationships with state and federal lawmakers. During the past several years, we have expanded our advocacy efforts by growing our government affairs team in D.C. and encouraging member participation at our advocacy events like SNAC, LAS, and our state Lobby Days. It is essential for us to establish in-person connections with legislators so they can put a human face to the issues that impact our businesses. But this is only possible if business-friendly lawmakers win elections and make it into office.
AAHOA PAC is the direct avenue that we have at our disposal to make a real difference in the outcomes of elections. Our support goes to candidates with a track record of supporting policy initiatives that bolster our industry and encourage small business development overall. In the 2018 midterms, roughly 87 percent of AAHOA-supported candidates won their races. Our contributions helped them secure these victories, and now they’re in the position to be allies of AAHOA and use their votes to be advocates on behalf of our industry.
Active involvement from our members is wholly responsible for the resources we were able to contribute to these campaigns. AAHOA PAC had its most successful period ever in the 2018 cycle. At $1.25 million, we surpassed the contributions of our 2016 cycle by 14 percent. This growth shows that our members understand the value of this work and want to do their part to ensure that our businesses have support from our elected officials.
To understand the importance of AAHOA PAC, we should consider the legislative victories we have already witnessed. In the 2016 cycle, we contributed to federal legislators who fought for the 20-percent small business deduction, as well as the reduced rates for individuals. With the need for a statutory fix to the joint-employer standard, dedicated funding for Brand USA, and protection from ADA drive-by lawsuits, there is still much work to be done. The relationships that we have built with lawmakers can raise awareness of the issues that hinder small business and help jumpstart legislative fixes.
The reach of AAHOA PAC allows us to have a seat at the table legislatively, but it also helps us grow our reputation as a trusted leader of the industry. Supporting candidates across the U.S. allows us to introduce more officials to who we are as an association and, in turn, encourages them to rely on us as a resource they can consult on leading issues that affect the hospitality industry in particular or small business owners in general. I am proud of the efforts we have taken as a group to build AAHOA PAC to what it is today, and I am confident that it will continue to grow in the years to come.