The American Wholesale Marketers Association (AWMA) has launched a new initiative to provide members with information and the ability to take action on state governmental developments that affect their businesses and the convenience distribution industry.
Anne Holloway, VP of government affairs, says the initiative has two key components:
• The appointment of Dirk Smith as the AWMA’s first‐ever director of state government affairs. A veteran government relations professional, Smith is founder of Campaign Finance Solutions Group and has expertise in lobbying and federal election compliance, political action committee management and government relations best practices.
• The launch of a new online AWMA State Advocacy Center on the AWMA website at awmanet.org that tracks key legislation in all 50 states and includes a State Action Center, where AWMA members can stay abreast of major developments and quickly and easily communicate with the appropriate public officials.
“This new, interactive website portal allows AWMA to better promote our grassroots efforts in the states where our industry is facing so many challenges,” said Holloway. “This new initiative will go a long way toward furthering distributors interests across the country.”
She notes that Smith, with his expertise and in‐depth knowledge of government relations issues, “will be a tremendous asset” to AWMA’s government affairs program. Smith has held a variety of positions on and off Capitol Hill, including work as executive director for Sen. Trent Lott’s campaign and leadership PAC.
While the portal tracks scores of issues important to convenience distributors, it highlights four that are especially critical to member companies: state efforts to increase the minimum wage; proposed excise tobacco taxes; legislation regulating and restricting e‐cigarettes and related products; and the need for uniform reporting standards for distributors through the Federation of Tax Administrators.
“AWMA’s State Advocacy Center will be a powerful tool for our members to track legislation and issues at the state level,” said Smith. “The Center also gives us a dynamic platform to engage our governors and state legislators on the issues of importance to our industry, and I look forward to using its capabilities to assist our members.”
AWMA’s new state government affairs initiative is being coordinated with convenience distribution industry state association executives who, according to Holloway, “have always been our eyes and ears at the state level.” But now, “AWMA has an experienced staffer dedicated to state issues and he will be working closely with our state executives so that together we can improve our overall effectiveness on behalf of our members,” she added.