By Kelly Burge
On February 6, hundreds of REALTOR® members from across Iowa will converge in Des Moines in show of solidarity to advocate for property rights and home ownership in the state. Each year, members from NWIA jump on a charter bus to participate in the Iowa REALTORS Legislative Bus-In Day, which takes place early in the legislative session in Des Moines.
This ‘Day on the Hill’ gives Iowa REALTORS® a chance to visit face-to-face with lawmakers from their home districts on the legislator’s turf. Yes, our NWIA members often attend legislative forums hosted on weekends by lawmakers in their home districts as an important way to connect with lawmakers and express thoughts. These legislative “Eggs and Issues” type events are vital for Iowa lawmakers to have open dialogue with constituents during the legislative session. If you can make one fit into your schedule, we highly recommend you attend your local sessions this spring.
Beyond the local forums, the commitment and care that is demonstrated by a REALTOR® taking time to travel to the Capitol and visit face to face with their representative is unmatched in power. For some of our NWIA members, this is a four-hour or greater trip to Des Moines (hello Lyon, O’Brien and Sioux County friends!), and a whopping eight hours of round trip drive time. Clearly, any Northwest Iowa legislator who gets a visit from a constituent at home takes notice of the visitor’s commitment, believe us.
So, what happens at Legislative Bus-In Day?
A lot! An early morning departure from Sioux City is made easier with treats and coffee on the bus, sponsored by our friends at Northwest Bank. Sit back, relax, and chat with a friend— or work from the road if you must. That’s the joy of the REALTOR® profession isn’t it? You can work from almost anywhere! And hey, take some selfies to post to your social media channels that you are proud to be spending the day advocating for Iowa home owners and property rights for all residents. Anyone looking for an agent wants someone who cares, and is engaged in their profession!
Upon arrival in Des Moines, you’re dropped off at the door of the Embassy Suites for check-in and a fabulous lunch, including dessert! During lunch, presentations from state legislators or other IAR leaders prepare you for the afternoon trip up the hill to the Capitol. You’ll receive an issues briefing and talking points to share with lawmakers. Plus, the two venues are close enough that (weather permitting) you can walk if you ate too much lunch and need some exercise, or our bus will take you straight to the door of the Capitol. It is red carpet service, all day long—and get this: it doesn’t cost you a thing! The bus, lunch, evening reception—all FREE.
And…We’re Off! To The Hill We Go!
Once at the Capitol, the group passes through security and we head inside to track down our Northwest Iowa representatives, who have been alerted that the REALTORS® are coming. Often we wait in an assigned area and our NWIA legislators come to us as their schedule of committee meetings and votes permit. Not all are there at the same time, which gives us a chance to give personal attention to each legislator. It really is a fun time of visiting and sharing thoughts and ideas, and if you’re new to the event, or nervous about lobbying, you can hang back and observe others who’ve attended the event for lots of years, as they know the routine well.
Once we’ve chatted with all our folks, we jump back on our bus (or walk) and return to the Embassy Suites for late afternoon appetizers and drinks. Generally, our legislators join us after they’ve adjourned the session for the day. This gives us a second opportunity to visit with them in a more informal setting and continue to exchange thoughts and ideas.
Head For Home!
The day ends around 6:30 PM as we load the bus, crack open some coolers of adult beverages (again, thanks to Northwest Bank!) and head back to Sioux City with happy hearts, knowing that we made a positive impact for property owners in our state. We’re usually back home around 9 PM, in time for you to pack your lunch for the next day, check your messages, sign the school papers, kiss your little ones and tuck them in bed. It’s a long day, but it’s a good day too. Members come home feeling like it was time well spent, and many choose to sign up to attend year after year.
Still have questions about the Iowa REALTORS® Bus In Day? Call NWIA President Katie Slater, or long time attendee and NWIA Director Chris Delfs for more information. Or as always, give us a shout at the board office and we’ll be glad to help you out.
Here’s hoping we see many of you on the bus on February 6! Register now on the IAR website.