It’s been a very busy Spring and my work has morphed from writing/advocacy into lobbying, which was somewhat unexpected. Since I last wrote about the Toxic Free Kids Act, I organized business support for the bill and helped it clear the Minnesota Senate Commerce Committee, a dramatic improvement over last year. Even though it wasn’t able to pass the Minnesota House, we hopefully set the groundwork for next year.
I also co-authored and edited an op-ed in the StarTribune that argued the business case for transparency and chemical regulation reform.
Working with Healthy Legacy and Clean Water Action Minnesota, I helped establish small business support for a related bill that bans several toxic flame retardants from consumer products, which passed both the Minnesota House and Senate and is now law.
While those two initiatives were still in process, I was hired again by MetroIBA and the American Sustainable Business Council to organize opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at the federal level. We focused our efforts on Senator Amy Klobuchar, who had not yet taken a position on this opaque trade agreement designed to benefit large multinational corporations. I wrote letters to Minnesota’s congressional delegation and recruited other local business owners to meet with Klobuchar’s staff.
While TPP fast track authority ultimately passed the US Senate earlier this month, we were very pleased that both Senators Franken and Klobuchar voted repeatedly against it. Our work now turns to the House.
Finally, we learned a few weeks ago that Amazon.com was seeking a substantial tax subsidy to build a distribution center in Shakopee, MN. MetroIBA once again hired me to oppose this corporate giveaway to a business that threatens so many local independent retailers. We honestly thought it was a lost cause, since Amazon has successfully won subsidies everywhere else it has built. But, we felt that we needed to represent our members nonetheless and argue for fairness.
I contacted Shakopee business owners, the mayor, all the members of the city council, and the governor to voice our concerns. After many conversations about how Amazon doesn’t really create jobs but merely destroys existing retail jobs, we were gratified to learn that Amazon withdrew their request for tax subsidies, proving that they don’t actually require public funds to grow their business.
All in all, it’s been a successful spring. I’ve enjoyed fighting for small businesses, who are the underdogs in almost every fight. We do have power against the interests of large corporations, but it takes a lot of work to access that power. I look forward to more of this kind of work.