Premium Cigar Association (PCA) is a dedicated force representing over 3,000 cigar retailers nationwide. It's a relentless advocate for retailers, manufacturers, and consumers, battling on the front lines of policy at federal, state, and local levels.
But PCA faces an overwhelming challenge — navigating the intricate web of over 10,000 bills in a state legislative session. How do they keep their finger on the pulse, ensuring nothing slips through the cracks? Enter FiscalNote, their secret weapon. It's the tool that empowers PCA to proactively monitor, react, and safeguard the interests of their members.
But it doesn't stop there. When the time comes to rally supporters, PCA relies on VoterVoice, FiscalNote’s flagship advocacy solution. And to predict the future of policy and stay ahead of the curve, PCA turns to CQ, their federal information source. It's their crystal ball for understanding where federal policy is heading and how it could impact their members.
In a world where government affairs teams are often outgunned, PCA's team can accomplish their goals, thanks to the power of FiscalNote's suite of solutions.
We could not physically sift through 10,000 pieces of legislation to ensure they don’t affect our industry.Joshua Habursky, Deputy executive director and chief lobbyist
Premium Cigar Association (PCA)
Bill Tracking: Ensure Nothing Slips Through the Cracks
From a policy perspective, the association is engaged in regulatory outreach with the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), and works to guard against tax increases and restrictions. With a four-person government affairs team, PCA sifts through more than 10,000 bills across the states. Managing this volume of legislation wouldn’t be possible without FiscalNote, which the team relies on to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
Glynn Loope, PCA’s state advocacy director, does the research and works with retailers, state associations, and manufacturers to provide updates on legislation — whether positive or negative for their business. With FiscalNote as his ally, he doesn't just keep pace; he sets the pace.
FiscalNote solutions are “bar none the most affordable option that allows you to maintain quality services — a service that pays dividends to the membership,” says Joshua Habursky, deputy executive director and chief lobbyist for PCA. “Between our staff and the technology we use, nothing is going to slip through the cracks.”
PCA members depend on the association to promptly give them information about bills that could harm their businesses. “We’re the ones who provide that coverage to mobilize them,” Habursky explains. “It’s dependent on us to alert the retailers of what’s going on.”
PCA’s government affairs team uses FiscalNote’s bill tracking feature daily to stay informed. In the last 60 days alone (considered “off-season” for legislation), the team can point to four crucial state-level bills they might have missed had it not been because of FiscalNote. These bills came “out of the blue,” Loope says, and were critical for PCA members in each of the four states. Because PCA was alerted early, they were able to compel members to take action. “If it weren’t for FiscalNote letting us know those bills were introduced, we would have been way behind the ball with our retail members,” Loope says.
One of these states was Pennsylvania, where a bill intended to prevent indoor smoking in casinos would have affected smoking cigars on an outdoor patio and in cigar bars. After being alerted about the bill through FiscalNote, PCA notified members and mobilized 1,200 actions taken at the state level, all before the committee hearing.
Loope also wrote a testimony for the state and national associations to present at the hearing so they would be prepared with talking points. “Near instantly after the hearing, the bill sponsor acknowledged that there were serious concerns and they would have to amend the bill to provide exemptions for our retail businesses,” Habursky says.
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Grassroots Advocacy Tools: Mobilize Supporters to Take Action
VoterVoice, FiscalNote’s flagship advocacy solution, is how PCA mobilizes supporters when it’s time to act on a particular issue. “FiscalNote is an essential tool, and it’s even better that it pairs with our grassroots solution,” Habursky says. “We previously had two disconnected systems, and we recently integrated them. The integration between FiscalNote and VoterVoice has increased productivity and gives us more ease of use.”
The team has launched nearly 50 action alerts to supporters this year, all grassroots campaigns through VoterVoice to encourage members to contact their lawmakers about a certain issue. VoterVoice enables the team to easily and quickly create different messaging based on the target audience. These tailored messages drive better action rates on advocacy campaigns.
“Before we started using VoterVoice, we were getting around 5,000 actions when we asked members to speak out about a topic,” Habursky says. “This year, we got more than 50,000 actions from supporters.”
The government affairs team reports on their success through press releases, a mid-year report, and an end-of-year report that highlights the top-line victories. They also have a bi-weekly advocacy committee board meeting and must keep the committee informed as things happen in real time.
Thanks to FiscalNote and VoterVoice, the often time-consuming task of reporting is greatly simplified. Data on campaign success, actions taken by members, bills tracked, and victories won can be easily pulled and included in reports.
“Our entire workflow revolves around FiscalNote,” Loope says. “We don’t have the internal capacity to track legislation in 50 states. When you’ve got very limited staff, you don’t have a choice but to rely on a system to know what’s going on.”
FiscalNote is an essential tool, and it’s even better that it pairs with our grassroots solution. We previously had two disconnected systems, and we recently integrated them. The integration between FiscalNote and VoterVoice has increased productivity and gives us more ease of use.Joshua Habursky, Deputy executive director and chief lobbyist
Premium Cigar Association (PCA)
CQ: News & Analysis to Predict What’s Next
Completing the trifecta of essential tools, PCA relies on CQ as its federal information source. “It’s a way to read the tea leaves of where policy is going,” Habursky says.
CQ allows the team to predict sentiment on smoking and tobacco products in Congress and how it could impact their members. “CQ was particularly useful at the federal level when there was a lot of discussion about vaping products,” Habursky adds. “We understood there would be a lot of bills coming up that we would face and were able to prepare for that.”
FiscalNote as a Force Multiplier for Government Affairs Teams
Having FiscalNote’s suite of solutions helps PCA’s government affairs team of four do the work of 12 people, Habursky says. “It’s an equalizer when we’re competing against other groups that have significantly more resources,” he adds. “We could not physically sift through 10,000 pieces of legislation to ensure they don’t affect our industry.”
FiscalNote’s suite of tools offers everything federal, state, and local advocacy leaders need to monitor legislation, connect with supporters and legislators, and effect change on the issues that matter to their organization. And FiscalNote’s flagship advocacy tool, VoterVoice, provides all the digital tools you need to mobilize your advocates, raise awareness, and grow your base. Finally, CQ helps PCA — and many other government affairs teams — follow bills in Congress from inception to passage, allowing them to strategize early and access information about a bill from the moment it is first discussed.
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