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KHTS organizes D.C. lobbying trip

Posted: August 4, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 4, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

Modeled after the annual trip to Sacramento, KHTS AM-1220 is organizing the first-ever local citizens and business organizations lobbying trip to Washington, D.C.

The number of people who have signed up to make the pilgrimage May 1-3, 2012, has already exceeded expected demand, said Karl Goldman, owner of the KHTS broadcasting group.

Goldman is now looking at blocking out the next set of flights and hotel reservations to meet the requests of people who want to accompany the group to Washington D.C.

Sacramento trips
“The Sacramento trips have been very, very successful,” Goldman said. “We wanted to make the Washington, D.C., trip a powerful event, and have it accomplish some of the things the Sacramento trip does.”

Each year, for the past six years, KHTS organizes a trip to Sacramento to meet with state assembly members and senators on issues of interest to the Santa Clarita Valley economically and on behalf of its residents. More than 70 local residents made the March 2011 trip to address chloride water-treatment mandates, Enterprise Zone programs, Redevelopment agencies, education and mental health care funding, transportation needs and California film and tax credits.

D.C.-bound trip
The success of the annual Sacramento trips caught the attention of Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, who is working with Goldman to bring a group to the nation’s center of government.

“I’m delighted that local business leaders and elected representatives are willing to make the trip to our nation’s Capitol to ensure legislators and government officials hear their side of the issues first-hand,” said McKeon.

The Gas Company and SCV Chamber of Commerce have stepped up to sponsor the trip and help underwrite a portion of the costs for the trip, including a dinner with a few representatives for the travelers.

“We’re very supportive of the Santa Clarita Valley,” said Mike Mizrahi, regional public-affairs manager, northern region, with The Gas Company.

“We think there’s great strength that’s added to the voice of a community when all the voices of a community that are added to advance common causes,” Mizrahi said.

The hope is to make this an annual trip, Goldman said.

“From the chamber and business perspective, we haven’t gone for a couple years, so returning to Washington to talk about issues that impact Santa Clarita — from our roads to the CEMEX issue to our hospital and to our overall business environment — is very important,” said Hunt Braly, SCV Chamber member of the board of directors and chair of the advocacy and governmental relations committee.

“It’s a great opportunity to start this process again.”

Structure
The Washington, D.C., trip will include some components that work really well in the Sacramento trip, and take some elements of previous SCV Chamber of Commerce trips that worked well, Goldman said.

While there will be large group meetings, Goldman believes it will be more effective on this trip to break up into smaller groups of six to eight people when meeting with legislators on some of the key issues.

“People could pick which meetings they attend based on their expertise and interest,” Goldman said. “It will allow us to do a number of meetings.”

A number of lobbying topics are already identified, such as those involving biotech, education, healthcare, water, transportation and possibly aerospace, he said.

The actual issues will be determined closer to the date of the trip.

“We won’t know what the specific issues are and who we want to get in front of until 60 to 90 days before the actual trip,” Goldman said.

Local representatives
Locals representing College of the Canyons, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, Castaic Lake Water Agency, SCV Chamber of Commerce, KHTS, the city of Santa Clarita and the I-5 Coalition have already signed up for the trip.
Local biotech firms have also committed to sending one to three representatives so far.

The contingent of local business and organization leaders will also be meeting with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
May 1-3

The people we meet with in Sacramento are blown away, because no other city sends a group of people up to meet with legislators, Goldman said.

Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, is always asked how he gets a group up to Sacramento.

The Washington, D.C., trip is intended to make a similar point with national legislators.

“Our community activists can personally share with officials in D.C. the daily personal struggles they face to create and maintain jobs and help the economy grow,” McKeon said.

When KHTS first proposed the trip, he locked in reservations for 25 people. Local business leaders said they would be shocked if the trip managed to draw that many people.

Now Goldman has to expand the number of reservations for the May 1-3 trip.

“We’ve already got 27 people,” Goldman said Tuesday. “I think we’ll end up with between 30 to 40 people.”

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