I’ve been told that the NVAR Lobby day in Richmond is one of the most rewarding and unforgettable experiences we have at the Association. I have also been warned that we get on the bus, rain or shine, cold or warm, ice storm or no ice storm, so I need to be at NVAR bright and early. I woke up to a morning that was not covered in ice which was a relief and ventured into the warmth of breakfast and the good wishes of the Engagement Team at the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors® (NVAR) Headquarters. We grab a bite with an Interstate bag of goodies and load ourselves into a lovely charter bus; it’s time to go!
Into the sunrise, we go, and little traffic there was. Despite the calmness, you could still feel the excitement looming in the air as we hear the opening words from The NVAR Public Policy Committee Chair, Madeline Caporiccio, and Josh Veverka, Director of Government Affairs, NVAR. This part of the trip is critical. Soon we will be mingling with legislators and taking tours and staying busy, but right now we hear why we are going to Richmond. What we are lobbying for. And how we should comport ourselves.
Before I know it we are welcomed to Richmond with tall buildings and the state capital. The trip down I-95 seemed to last the blink of an eye.
We were told that the General Assembly office building is being completely rebuilt and renovated, so our home for the morning is the Commonwealth Hotel, located across the street from the Capitol and around the corner from the legislators’ offices. With three rooms reserved for NVAR and the Realtor® Lobby Day attendees, we could spread out and stretch our legs. Then into the Governor Room, we gathered.
Already there to greet us with a big smile to welcome us to Richmond, Mary Beth Coya, Senior Vice President for Public and Government Affairs at NVAR. Mary Beth is our lobbyist on the ground and in the halls in Richmond. She lives here during session and we find out that she is one of the most respected lobbyists in the business as she earns praise from our General Assembly members. We are introduced to a parade of Legislators from the Northern Virginia delegation. These legislators are Realtor®-Champions in the House and Senate. NVAR and the Virginia Realtors® (VAR) work closely with these legislators to advocate for the real estate industry. We quickly learn the power of RPAC and the Realtor® Party as each Delegate and Senator sings the praises of our government affairs team and the way the Realtors® conduct business in Richmond.
Also on hand is Martin Johnson, Mary Lawson, and Anthony Reedy, who are otherwise known as the VAR lobbying team, advocating on behalf of all Realtors® of Virginia. NVAR works closely with this outstanding lobbying team to help advance the state Realtor® agenda.
Our whirlwind of morning comes to a close with lunch and we hear some inspirational words from NVAR’s Leadership Team. They each took this opportunity to share why Lobby Day and Realtor® Advocacy matter and how they continue to be amazed at what there still is to learn.
After Lunch, it is onwards to the beautiful Virginia State Capitol to witness how laws get made for the Commonwealth. Did you know the Capitol was designed by Thomas Jefferson! It is colloquially called Mr. Jefferson’s Capitol and is modeled after the Maison Carée, an ancient Roman temple in Nîmes, France.
The Lobby Day crew is divided into two groups to visit the House and Senate Chambers separately. We do this to limit the number of visitors in each Gallery, and so we can compare notes on how each chamber manages the work of the people. As a surprise, our group is introduced on the floor of the Senate! Senator Jennifer Boysko (D) and Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears (R) bid us a warm welcome to the session and gave us a standing ovation. Did you know that it is tradition for incumbent legislators to [tastefully] haze the freshmen legislators when putting forth their first bills on the floor? Well, they do, and NVAR was in for a treat. From questioning the necessity of the number of commas used to asking if the legislator would need his wife to proofread all of his bills (she was an English teacher). The bill was then put to the vote and passed the Virginia State Senate…eventually.
After the session and witnessing the work of the people – or as the lobbyists put it – seeing how the sausage is made, we break into even smaller groups to walk the halls of the General Assembly offices. This is why we are here, to advocate for Realtors® and our agenda. To protect the industry and our homebuyers and sellers. We each make a visit to our own legislator’s office. Most are unavailable for meetings but we were warned this could happen, so we leave our talking points with the Legislative Aide and sign the attendance books. Our job is done.
Finally, we visited the spectacular offices of the Virginia Realtors® government affairs Team. Martin, Mary, and Anthony answer questions and elaborate on their earlier presentation now that we had a better understanding of their roles in crafting legislation for the Realtors® of Virginia.
The bus ride home is a blast! Cheese, wine, snacks and more talk from our leaders about why this is all possible. The answer? RPAC. That voluntary contribution on the dues bill gives us all a voice in Richmond. And we could not have agreed more. Each person on the bus stepped up and invested in RPAC this evening! For the first time ever we had 100% participation!
Thank you to all those who could join NVAR on Realtor® Lobby Day in Richmond 2022 and helped make my first trip memorable! If you didn’t have a chance to sign up this year, we hope you can make it in 2023.