|Message from the President Beth Chapman
Fighting for the right to reasonable bail
Dear Members and Colleagues,
I hope everyone had a great 4th of July and a reminder of the liberties we enjoy as a nation. I think it is fitting that we are celebrating the declaration of our freedom and have the ability to under the protections of the Constitution of the United States, while so many states are considering denying one of the rights outlined in the Bill of Rights. The right to reasonable bail is one of the first 10 amendments to the constitution and just as important as the right to free speech. But it seems that we are fighting the restriction of that right at every turn as states consider bail reform.
We had a very successful week in Delaware last week and it has spawned a great collaboration between the PBUS and the American Bail Coalition (ABC). As you know the bill in Delaware was filed June 1st, we got word June 3, and by June 5 we had the strategy and ground work in place. Unlike most other states, Delaware does not have a lobbying effort on behalf of the industry. We had to engage this process from the very beginning without much of a link to the legislature. We did quickly find allies in the legislature and within five days of hearing about the bill's filing, we were able to get the bill tabled in the original House committee. Those watching the hearing will remember the emotional testimony of Ms. June Rodgers escorted by Michelle Esquenazi. The bill likely would have passed if not for the tremendous testimony of Ms. Rodgers. However, we knew this would not last and we were right as the author brought the bill back up the very next week and got it passed out of committee and onto the floor.
I am very proud to report that we began working very closely with the (ABC) and together we implemented a strategy in Delaware that is modeled after many of our victories around the country. When the bill was sent to the Senate and expected to pass with ease, we employed the same voter-targeting program that we used in California to bring awareness to the citizens and pressure to the members. We also began and sustained a conventional and social media strategy to keep the issue in the public as much as possible. Once again, we generated hundreds of phone calls from voters directly to the legislators and our efforts paid off. We were told that the bill was going to pass easily with little resistance but, in the end due to our combined efforts, the bill was pulled by Senate leadership. The Delaware General Assembly adjourned June 30 without a final hearing on the bill.
This would not have been possible without the valuable financial assistance of Roche Surety and Casualty Company. Roche also helped us secure expert testimony from Dr. David Krahl, who was present and testified at the committee hearing saying this was the worst piece of legislation and the wrong direction for Delaware. Additionally, Nick Wachinski of Lexington National, was instrumental in raising and securing funds to finance the voter engagement. He and I worked very closely in developing the public and legislative strategy that killed the bill in the end.
One thing that is missing in Delaware and many other states is an effective ground game. Our agents and other members of the industry need to have a strong relationship with their local representatives. When we have to fight these bills we will learn everything we can find about the members, but nothing is better than the personal relationship that can develop through interactions with your Representatives and Senators. We also need to be able to exploit connections to groups, unions, associations, etc. that can be helpful in engaging the citizens. We seem to be behind that ball every time we go to a new state because those connections have not been made.
With that being said, Delaware is the prime example of how the ind more
7701 Las Colinas Blvd., Ste. 800, Irving, TX 75063