Government Affairs FAQ
How is the Chamber involved with government?
The Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce represents the views of business. That means working with government officials at all levels of government, but particularly local and state governments. Chamber members develop the organization's positions on public issues by working through the Local Legislative Affairs Committee, the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance and the Chamber Board of Directors. Members involved on these committees, our lobbyist and Chamber staff members monitor legislation and regulations by previewing government meeting agendas, attending government meetings and reading and evaluating proposed legislation. Based on the anticipated impact and the timing, Chamber committee members and staff will prepare a written response, testify, or even activate all members through NCLAaction.net.
Why does the Chamber get involved lobbying government?
Government action or inaction can have a significant impact on specific businesses, entire business sectors, and the overall business climate. To assume that government understands how its policies affect business is folly. Business people, expressing their views through their local chamber, help government officials understand and appreciate how legislation impacts business.
Isn't lobbying beyond the traditional role of chambers of commerce?
Not at all. Chambers of commerce are organized under IRS Tax Code as ”˜business leagues' and lobbying and political activities are permissible activities. The rights of association, free speech, and to petition government have a deep history in America.
By lobbying government, does that mean the Chamber is anti-government or anti-tax?
Government is us. Government is one means that Americans use to organize ourselves to work on matters of mutual benefit or concern. So, the answer is no. Nor is the Chamber anti-tax. A reasonable level of taxation is the price we pay for key public services that benefit us all. As tax measures are proposed, the Chamber reviews each on its merits and considers factors such as transparency, the rate, how broad the base is, its relative impact on business, its stability, and whether it is being applied retroactively.
Doesn't taking positions on issues cause controversy?
Usually not, but the Chamber does not back away from controversy if it means representing business. We are absolutely unapologetic in our support of free enterprise and the community's employers who are making investments, taking risks, creating jobs and through their taxes and payrolls, providing the means for the community to afford the public amenities we all enjoy.
Why does the Chamber endorse candidates? Is that allowed? Isn't it controversial?
It is allowed and it shouldn't be controversial. Remember that you can't consider the merits of a local ordinance without also looking at who is voting on that ordinance. In Fort Collins, a community of 145,000, we only have seven people making decisions for the rest of us. It is very important to elect people that understand and appreciate the challenges of running a business. The Chamber's political program has caused constructive, necessary, and long overdue changes to take place for our community and the way city government approaches economic development and business.
Shouldn't the Chamber stay out of political partisan activities?
Yes, and we do. The Chamber's bylaws and federal tax code prohibit the Chamber from being partisan, meaning it cannot be engaged in political activities for a political party. It is important to understand that this does not prevent the Chamber from endorsing candidates for public office.
Why is the U.S. Chamber always running ads for or against certain political causes or candidates?
You need to ask them. The U.S. Chamber is a Washington DC-based business advocacy organization and is completely separate from the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce. They don't confer with us about their political endorsements and advertising.
Isn't the Chamber supposed to be a sort of cheerleader for the local government and the community?
No to the first part of the question and yes on the second. The Chamber is an advocate for its members, a strong business environment, and the overall community. Usually, the Chamber and city government are in-synch on issues and are working in unison. In challenging economic times, that's very important. It's important to understand, however, that the Chamber is not a department of the City and does not exist to please local government. The Chamber is an independent voice that considers issues on their merits relative to their impact on business and community. Regarding being a community ”˜cheerleader,' the Chamber handles thousands of inquiries annually from people seeking information about the community. The Chamber is Fort Collins' biggest advocate.
How much money does the Chamber receive from the local government?
None.* Unlike many chambers of commerce, the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce does not receive membership or contract money from the City of Fort Collins. This allows the Chamber to represent business without undue political pressure.
* On occasion, the City will buy training services from the Chamber.