Flaherty & Hood attorney/lobbyist Carolyn Jackson and retired lobbyist Nancy Larson spoke with this week’s Capitol Pages through the Minnesota Government Relations Council 2017 High School Page Program Schedule on Tuesday afternoon.
Jackson talked about the steps a lobbyist takes to represent their client’s interests at the Capitol—from formulating policies, to helping shape bills, to arranging for testifiers at hearings, to lining up votes for or against a measure. She explained how each issue has a multitude of viewpoints, but each bill has to be worked down to a yes/no vote. A lobbyist helps ensure that their client’s viewpoint is heard in that process and becomes part of the solution.
Larson talked about the relationships people build at the Capitol—how lobbyists and legislators become friends and bridge the gap between St. Paul and the people back home.
The pages asked about the best part of a lobbyist’s job, and both Jackson and Larson said it was the satisfaction of making friends while creating policy. They both stressed the importance of building trust with legislators.
One page asked how Jackson and Larson became lobbyists. Both answered that their jobs grew out of volunteer work observing the government in action: Jackson through an advocacy organization, and Larson as a school board reporter.
The students reported that they had participated in the House debate over Sunday liquor sales, which had been an action-packed debate. They observed that many, if not a majority, of the lobbyists they met had been women. This surprised the lobbyists, who were pleased that this once male-dominated profession could be viewed that way.