Lobbying efforts can include stifling bad ideas

Steve Lyons, a contract lobbyist with Husch Blackwell Strategies, says his work for the Wisconsin Technology Council sometimes involves stifling bad ideas before they can be proposed as bills.

Lyons worked as deputy chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald for eight years, and has “a lot of dialogue with the leadership offices.”

“I’m in the Capitol if not daily, at least weekly, usually three or four times a week,” Lyons said at the Wisconsin Tech Summit. “Sometimes we’re playing defense, sometimes we’re playing offense, and it’s really about what’s best for creating jobs, what’s helping startups, what’s helping our economy.”

“Even when it is a near-unanimous vote, that doesn’t mean it’s easy,” added Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “That means some roadblocks were removed early on to try to get it done.”

Before officially introducing a bill, authors will circulate co-sponsorship memos to other lawmakers in hopes of getting them on board.

“If we’re not brought in … if we’re not on this bill, and it’s a bad idea they thought up overnight… We can stop it there, then when it gets introduced, we can testify and stop it,” Lyons said. “There’s lots of different ways we can put up roadblocks.”

He says many bills that he works to cut off early are “introduced with good intentions — but sometimes good intentions can be very costly.”

One of the Tech Council’s success stories mentioned at the summit was AB 489 — a bill which would raise the lifetime cap on angel and venture investments that qualify for the 25 percent Qualified New Business Venture state tax credit.

This bill has passed both the Assembly and the Senate, and now awaits Gov. Scott Walker’s signature to become law.

“He has said he’s going to sign it; it’s just a matter of timing,” Lyons said, adding Walker has about 30 days to do so.

“That one we’re very pleased with,” Still added.

–By Alex Moe