I rode the plane up to Tallahassee with John Walz, PT to the FPTA Legislative Advocacy Meeting on March 14-15, 2011. I had been up the year before but John was new to this process. He worked in outpatient rehab but was totally uninvolved in politics. While I’ve become a bit of a political junkie John was the least political person I know – he liked everybody and everybody liked him.
What made John a candidate for State Advocacy training was his community activism – he was a Boy Scout leader, he held leadership positions in his church and he owned three outpatient clinics in Manatee County, Florida. John had political connections where they counted the most – at home.
One of our conversations on the plane brought to light that he bought insurance policies from our new Republican Representative in the State House. This contact may be valuable in the future as physical therapists seek to present our position to legislators in Tallahassee.
Some of the issues John and I learned this year in Tallahassee were among the following:
- How to approach your legislator by Jack Latvala (R) St. Petersburg – real down-to-earth talk about what legislators need to hear from constituents.
- The CEO of the FPTA discussed FS 486 and the Florida Administrative Code 64B17.
- Tim Richardson, PT discussed fundraising and how to set-up, organize and ensure attendance for your fundraiser.
- Eric Chaconas, DPT discussed the Florida Key Contacts Network.
- Nancy Stewart, JD, our attorney and lobbyist in Tallahassee discussed some current issues:
- PIP fraud and attorney’s fees
- No PIP legislation this year
- Clinic licensure
- Pill mills
- Gene Adams, our attorney and lobbyist in Tallahassee discussed other current issues:
- Consensus prediction for the 2012 session
- No change with PIP legislation
- No need for additional clinic licensure
On the plane ride home, John and I received a quick, 15-minute tutorial on the legislative process from the outgoing President of the Florida Association of Anesthesiologists.
Anesthesiologists have lobbied seven years under this man’s watch to restrict “Pill Mills” in Florida. 2011 is the first year they are expecting significant legislation to protect their profession. Change happens slowly in Tallahassee.
What you can do to help physical therapy is to identify people in your community like John – your friends, your coworkers or yourself. Don’t worry about political interest or experience. Is this person involved and interested in their community? That’s who physical therapists need to represent our interests in Tallahassee. They’re the ones we need as Key Contacts around the state when important legislative issues come up.
If you or someone you know fits the description like John fits can you recommend them for the sponsored 2012 State Advocacy Training next year in Tallahassee?
If you do, contact Eric Chaconas, DPT at email@example.com and let him know you are interested in becoming a Key Contact. If you're interested in attending State Advocacy mark your schedule for February 2012 and apply for a scholarship.