Florida lobbyists are an optimistic lot, so says an exclusive state-of-the-industry survey in the latest issue of INFLUENCE Magazine.
In its first-ever “State of the Lobby Corps” poll, conducted with a major assist from the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists, the magazine asked more than 700 members of the government affairs industry to weigh in on a range of topics.
There are 1,977 registered Florida lobbyists working with the Legislative branch, representing about 4,000 principals, and 1,539 for the executive branch, with almost 3,600 principals.
Through the responses, there shows a strong to desire repeal the long-standing lobbyist “gift ban,” as well as the belief the 2016 Legislative Session will fail to end on time.
By and large, however, Florida’s lobbying corps is upbeat about business prospects for the industry, but skeptical on certain matters. Those include talking with the media or replying whether they’ve ever been hired by opponents just to have them stay away from an issue.
INFLUENCE Magazine found most lobbyists report having good relations in the halls of the Florida Capitol, yet keep a somewhat behind-the-scenes presence. More than half of respondents (53 percent) say they maintain a healthy relationship with lawmakers while fewer than a third (30 percent) report having testified fewer than 10 times during the 2015 Legislative Session. Another 26 percent never made a committee appearance.
As for which chamber is easier to work with, for the most part, lobbyists are split down the middle, with 30 percent saying both are about the same. With the rest, one-fifth (20 percent) call the Senate somewhat easier, 16 percent say the House.
Keeping a reputation for low-key advocacy, lobbyists are hesitant to talk with the media as the public face of their clients – about one-third (32 percent) report they rarely speak on the record to the media; another 21 percent say they never do.
In 2015, one-third of respondents (34 percent) said their revenue slightly increased, whereas another 11 percent said revenue jumped by more than one quarter.
Repealing the gift ban was also popular with more than half – 58 percent – saying either probably yes (34 percent) or definitely yes (24 percent). An overwhelming majority also believe “honey” beats “vinegar” as a strategy for dealing with tough issues in the capital – 59 percent say usually honey works, and another 21 percent say it definitely does.
When asked how often they were hired to keep an opponent from engaging them on an issue, most lobbyists were reluctant to answer, with 39 percent declining. But, of those who did respond, one-third said it happens occasionally and 3 percent said it happens more than you think. Twenty-five percent said a proactive offensive play like that never happens.
Furthermore, INFLUENCE learned the future is bright within the membership of Florida’s lobbying corps for 2016, as more than half say business will grow either slightly or by more than 25 percent next year.
The latest issue of INFLUENCE Magazine, featuring the 100 Most Influential People in Florida Politics, is available now.