The Central Chapter of the South Carolina Association of CPAs is getting ready to host its annual “CPA Meet & Greet” with state legislators in the Vista Room of the Blue Marlin restaurant on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 17.

It’s important that our local representatives are introduced for a chat with CPAs in a relaxed, social environment. Keep in mind that elected officials depend on hearing from SCACPA. Hundreds of bills are introduced each year, and it is impossible for a legislator to study them all. They rely on constituents, organizations and lobbyists to familiarize themselves with the many bills.

“Every legislative session, every organization that wants to influence legislation has a meet-and-greet, offering food and beverages. Most nights, there are several of these events from which to choose,” said Walda Wildman, CPA (SCACPA member since 1984), and a sole practitioner with experience in political campaigning.

“To make sure CPAs look after ourselves as well as our clients, we need to have an effective grassroots lobbying force,” Wildman said. “It is important that we turn out, this impacts how we are required to work.”

Issues about taxation and regulation of the profession are in legislative hands, so it is critical that CPAs get involved with one-on-one outreach.

“The Blue Marlin is a great location to talk with our elected officials about anything from roads to tax conformity,” said Brian Bowen, CPA (SCACPA member since 2012), an Executive Vice President at AllSouth Federal Credit Union who attended last year’s event.

“I am glad SCACPAs provides events like this that allow us to demonstrate the importance of our profession and have meaningful interaction with our elected officials,” Bowen said.

SCACPA encourages its members to get comfortable offering your opinions in an in-person political dialog. There are tips you can review on how CPAs can engage with legislators all year long with this instructional SCACPA blog post:

https://www.scacpa.org/scacpa-advocacy-here-are-best-practices-for-how-to-talk-to-legislators/

Also keep in mind that legislators want to shake hands at social functions by as many constituents as possible.

“Sharing a drink and an hors d’oeuvre with a legislator is a good way to establish a relationship with someone, frankly, who is a neighbor,” Wildman said. “The stronger the relationship, the more likely he or she will be to listen to our concerns.

“Our legislators want to hear from us,” Wildman said. “If we don’t turn out for our own event, legislators aren’t going to turn out either.”