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Thursday, November 27, 2014

GPSA will lobby for SEED Act

Bill would fund UNM student entrepreneurship

news@dailylobo.com
@StephCHoover

UNM’s Graduate and Professional Student Association Lobby Committee is working on how best to brand their bill, the SEED Act, in order to garner legislative support.

The goal of the Statewide Entrepreneurial Economic Development Act is to create an appropriation for investments on behalf of the state by using a portion of state funding.

Jon Lee, the GPSA Lobby Chair, said in their committee meeting on Wednesday that branding the bill is important because it makes the bill easier for the public and legislators to understand.

“One of the ways to get legislative support is to charge the constituency that these people represent. And a bill sounds, even just to me, so stuffy and legal and official,” Lee said. “So if you can create a pithy nickname for it, which we have, the SEED Act, then you again turn it into a product. It’s more accessible.”

However, Lee said the Branding Working Group within the committee is having trouble branding the bill because of the word seed.

“The one big struggle that we had with branding was, ‘Is this an economic development thing or is it an environmental thing?’ We need to have a logo and a slogan that makes it really clear this isn’t an environmental bill or an environmental cause,” Lee said. “That seems obvious now that I say it, but it totally escaped my mind until we go into this discussion.”

Vik Patel, a member of the committee, said legislative support is not the only support they are after — they look for the support of students as well.

Luke Holmen, research chair of the Lobby Committee, said GPSA’s Legislative Finance Committee has approved their appropriations request. From here, the bill needs to be sent to the council for approval during the next meeting, and if they do so, their budget will be funded at the full amount.

The committee requested $3,260 from GPSA for their budget. This is up from the $1,960 they received last year. $500 of that budget request is to be used for “hospitality” purposes in order to lobby senators and representatives by taking them to lunch to talk about the bill, Holmen said.

“It was a little hard for (the Legislative Finance Committee) to stomach the advertising and the hospitality because it’s so far outside what the standing rule recommendations are,” Holmen said. “But because I explain to them we’re in a unique position where that’s not for feeding us and that’s not for hosting an event, this is for lobbying and for convincing people to support it.”

Lee said he felt that his committee has different needs for the money than other GPSA committees.

“I think we have a decent argument because the scope of our committee is unique, is different to what GPSA normally does as far as appropriations go,” Lee said. “Our audience is not graduate students at UNM. Our audience is state legislators, state legislative staff, people in the economic community outside of the bounds of UNM. I feel justified in asking for this money.”

The 2014 legislative session begins Jan. 21 and lasts through Feb. 20. During the session, Lobby Committee members will be traveling to the Legislature each day to lobby for the bill.

The group is still in the process of finalizing their slogan and logo, which they will then put on promotional materials. These include business cards, buttons and postcards with information about the bill on them. They are also working on creating a website for the bill.

Lee said the process has turned out to be more difficult than anticipated.

“I don’t think we’re behind, but I think that we’ve definitely encountered some big obstacles that we need to creatively find our way around or through,” he said.