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News & Press: FOCUS

Michigan Legislative Consultants: Lansing’s original multi-client lobbying firm

Monday, May 1, 2017  
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MLC team members, left to right: Sean Mann, Tony Des Chenes, Madeline Dasen, Cami Pendell,
Matt Sowash, Julie Rizer, Liz Gullett, Brendan Ringlever, LuAnn Camp, Tim Ward, and Ann Spagnuolo.

Life in the government relations arena was quite different when Michigan Legislative Consultants (MLC) was formed in 1965 by Tom Cleary. Lawmakers tended to stay on their jobs for many years, making relationship building much easier. Today, the strain of term limits means lobbyists are constantly reintroducing themselves to the new state legislators and having to provide more background information to lawmakers who aren’t on the job long enough to gain in-depth knowledge on the multitude of issues with which they must grapple.

The impact of technology and the advent of social media have been felt in the government relations industry and changed how information is often communicated to clients and prospective clients. However, at its core, firms like MLC have maintained a consistent mission through the years.

“At the base of it all, we advocate for our clients’ positions relating to the state’s public policy,” said MLC president Tim Ward. “Our work also includes relationship building between our clients and policymakers so they have mutual respect for each other and what each side is being asked to do.”

As the oldest multi-client lobbying firm in Lansing, MLC is representative of an industry that not only serves a vital role in the public policy arena, but also in terms of economic impact. The government relations industry provides numerous jobs (MLC has 11 employees) through more than 400 trade associations and numerous lobbying firms like MLC. In addition, the industry brings a lot of people into town for visits at the Capitol, networking and entertaining lawmakers.

“The government relations industry drives a lot of traffic at restaurants, bars and conference centers” said Ward. “You can see the difference in traffic in town between legislative session and nonsession days.”

MLC has successfully lobbied for thousands of pieces of legislation and helped clients win more than $500 million in business opportunities in the state. Among some of those victories, Ward points to passing legislation creating a statewide regulatory system for Uber and other TNCs, helping establish a competitive electric market in Michigan, helping the Huron Band of Potawatomi in Battle Creek with their recognition, and then working with other consultants to establish FireKeepers Casino and Hotel.

“We’re really proud of every accomplishment we achieve for each client,” said Ward. “While some are more recognizable to the press or people in the state, each one is important for the client and achieving success for them is what MLC is all about.”

Click here to download the May issue of FOCUS.

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