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25 Fly-In attendees lobby legislators on key issues
 

By Grace Boatright, National Grange (New Grange July/August 2011)

  AUGUST 8, 2011 --

Grangers from all over the country descended on Washington May 22 through 24 to participate in the 2011 National Grange Fly-In and advocate to exercise their rights of citizenship through personal meetings with their elected representatives and key staff. 

“The National Grange looks forward to its annual Fly-In and the opportunity to continue carrying the torch of citizenship by planning meetings with attending Grangers and their Congressional representatives, as well as hosting expert-lead briefings on current legislative issues facing our Congress,” Legislative Director Nicole Palya Wood said. “Face-to-face interaction with representatives on the hill, as well as their staffers, helps the National Grange maintain its treasured name-recognition and further advance the important legislative issues affecting our country.” 

On Sunday, May 22, 25 members from over 10 states gathered at the Grange Building to kick off events with a briefing on important legislative issues currently facing the nation and issues they might want to discuss with their representatives. 

Among them were IPAB, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which has been commissioned to control Medicare spending and without Congressional intervention will begin making recommendations as soon as 2014. 

The Debit Interchange Fee Study Act of 2011, S.575, which seeks to slow Congressional approval by requiring that a study first take place as to how the bill will affect consumers, small businesses, and more, was also discussed.

Grange staff also educated attendees on H.R. 872, Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, which would amend FIFRA and CWA to declare that no permit is required 

for the labeled use of any registered pesticide. 

Monday began with a tour of George and Martha Washington’s beautiful Mt. Vernon estate in neighboring Virginia. 

Attendees were able to walk through the beautiful colonial home of our founding father and explore the workings of his still-operational 500-acre plantation. 

Over 80 million eager visitors have made their way to Mt. Vernon since it began offering tours and the Grange is now proud to be among them. 

Following the tour, Grangers made their way to Capitol Hill to begin meeting with their representatives and discussing with them the issues currently facing their Grange, state, and the nation. 

More than 50 meetings took place with representatives such as Congressmen Gardner (CO), Kissell (NC), Courtney (CT), Bass (NH), Platts (PA), Senators Bennet (CO), Udall (CO), Burr (NC), Lieberman (CT), Casey (PA), Ayotte (NH), and many others. 

Dinner on Monday was held at Capitol Hill’s Tortilla Coast, where Scott LaGanga, deputy vice president of Federal Alliance Development and Public Affairs at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) was the guest speaker. 

LaGanga spoke to the Grange members about IPAB and what Grange members can do to make a difference on this most important issue. 

Tuesday’s events began bright and early at the Grange Building with a briefing from John Blanchfield, Senior Vice President of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Banking. 

Blanchfield spoke to Grange members about the interchange fees imposed by the Dodd-Frank Act and what Grange members can do to help advance S. 575. 

Lunch that afternoon was hosted by AT&T at their Innovation Center in downtown Washington, D.C. 

AT&T representatives gave an exciting presentation on new advances in Telehealth technology and how it will assist those living in rural areas. 

After lunch, those with remaining appointments returned to the Hill to meet with their representatives. 

“We thoroughly enjoyed hosting the 2011 Fly-In,” Palya Wood said. “It is most important to remain active in today’s political world and events such as the Fly-In greatly assist in those efforts. The National Grange would also like to extend a very special thanks to our guest speakers, hosts, and of course to everyone who journeyed to Washington to attend this most special occasion.”

Palya Wood said she and the rest of the National Grange staff looks forward to hosting another Fly-In during a presidential election year in 2012. 

Until then, she encouraged Grange members to stay up-to-date on legislation affecting local Grange members by checking for Legislative Alerts and Updates and reading the National Grange Legislative Department blog.

 
 
 
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