My first IAR Capitol Conference two years ago was a transformative event for me. Prior to attending the conference, I had virtually no awareness of what the Illinois Association of REALTORS® (IAR) does for its members. It was really nothing more to me than another layer of the trade organization to which I sent dues dollars. A single day in Springfield radically altered my perspective about IAR, state government, and my feelings in general for my home state.
In a single day, I got to have lunch with others from my part of the state with our local Government Affairs Director (a/k/a “GAD”) to hear about the multitude of local issues on his radar screen, on which he is constantly advocating on the REALTORS®’ behalf. That was eye opening in its own right. The subsequent large group assembly led by the IAR Governmental Affairs Director succinctly covered a myriad of statewide issues that IAR was tracking, advocating for or against, and communicating to REALTORS® around the state. It is mind boggling to discover that in a given two-year General Assembly nearly 10,000 separate pieces of legislation are approved. Just contemplating the number makes my head spin, and that’s without reading through the contents of the proposed legislation.
I have a business to run and clients to serve. I cannot possibly keep track of all the crazy, often dreadfully misguided, legislative antics going on in Springfield. And even if I could, I could not do anything by myself to change the course of those legislative initiatives. But for a few dollars per month in IAR dues dollars, an entire staff of IAR government affairs experts accomplish every day that which I could not. These advocates at IAR do make a difference. As true subject matter experts who have earned tremendous credibility with lawmakers of both parties, our government affairs staffers can convincingly highlight unintended consequences of proposed legislation, help improve sensible legislation, and help bring down a great deal of the legislative folly that would be injurious to the interests of REALTORS® and to private property rights in general.
Additionally, Capitol Conference afforded me the opportunity to meet personally with every legislator whose district overlaps with my local association of REALTORS®. For the most part—regardless of party—these are good, intelligent, honest people who desire to do right by their constituents. This is a shocking revelation in the context of a state with a well-earned reputation for a comical level of corruption. And the legislators know that REALTORS® vote in huge numbers—and have many peers back home who vote, too. So while our government affairs staffers do extraordinary work on our behalf, our individual and collective voices matter. The government affairs folks are quick to point out that there is no substitute for getting a multitude of REALTOR® boots on the ground in Springfield to get the attention of those in state government.
Finally, Capitol Conference is worth attending for historical field trip purposes. We have a state capitol steeped in a rich history. The capitol building itself is breathtaking—a truly awe-inspiring monument. Having now run dozens of miles through Springfield, historical treasures are waiting to be enjoyed throughout the capitol city. Getting to spend a day or two simply enjoying the rich historical tapestry of the state capitol is icing on the cake, given the other compelling reasons to attend Capitol Conference.
Please register for the IAR Capitol Conference, www.illinoisrealtor.org/capitolconference, and contact your REALTOR® friends to encourage them to do the same. Then pack your car to road trip to Springfield. For anyone who has not previously attended, I want you to experience the same awakening that my first Capitol Conference afforded me. You already pay dues dollars. You owe it to yourself to come see them at work!