Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mr. Van Tassell goes to committee

Royce Van Tassell is the vice-president of the Utah Taxpayer's Association and policy voice on Capitol Hill for the UTA. (Not to be confused with the Utah Transit Authority-sometimes acronyms can be confusing.) He has extensive experience as a lobbyist on the Hill, but it's been a rough session for him so far. He tangled with the urbane, and always knowledgeable, Sen. Jon Valentine on Friday in his testimony against the increase in the cigarette tax.

Sen. Valentine won.

Monday morning, he appeared before the House Revenue and Taxation Committee. The committee was discussing 1st Substitute HB 35, Nonrefundable Higher Education Tuition Credit by Rep. Dougall. He testifed that targeting the credit to certain majors, such as engineering and technology, would be a better use of the money and help drive our flagging economy. The example he used was that he had majored in political science and after all, who needs more poli sci majors? He also referenced his sister's degree in recreation management, along with English and other liberal arts degrees. The tone inferred that these were flippant and irrelevant college majors.

Now the fun began.

Rep. Seelig and Sandstrom both informed him that they had been political science majors and then gone on to graduate work. They sounded offended. Um, really offended.

Rep. Spackman-Moss then defended English majors. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that she taught high school English for years.

At this point, he scanned the committee and realized that he had managed to insult most of the members of the committee and attempted to extricate himself, but unfortunately, the damage had been done. His pertinent policy points were repeatedly knocked down by the committee and ignored.

In the end, he bowed out. Rather red in the face.

Some days, it's really tough to be a lobbyist.


daltongirl said...

I'm thinking a better lobbyist would have done a little homework before going in and slamming on everyone in the committee.

Rule #1: Know your audience.

You have my permission to pass that pearl of wisdom on if you like.

Natalie said...

Power to the PoliSci majors!