number Date Interest Groups and their role in Public Policy Process: The Case of MEMA Introduction Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) is an organization that represents companies that “manufacture aftermarket segments, systems for the original equipment, and vehicle components of the heavy-duty and light vehicle industries…
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The organization acts as an advocate to suppliers on regulatory and legislative issues (MEMA (a)). It identifies issues affecting the industry and proposes to the relevant authorities on how changes should be made on the policy or the matter, to avoid harmful effects to the industry. Examples of its advocacy initiatives are three letters addressed to relevant authorities touching on legislative issues affecting the industry. One letter was addressed to an acting director and general counsel of the office of government ethics. There was a proposed amendment to limit gifts from registered lobbyists and lobbying organizations. MEMA was not for the idea. The main issue here was that, the proposal would prohibit government employees from using the WAG exception to attend lobbying organizations’ variety of events and programs. MEMA, therefore, wrote a letter to address this issue on behalf of the companies it represented. It explained the effect of such an amendment and the companies’ contribution to the economy (MEMA (d)). Another letter was addressed to the Honorable Carl Levin, a US Senator by then (2008), touching on the issue of Patent Reform Act (S.1145). The organization was concerned that this reform would weaken its patent system. It therefore addressed a letter to the Senator, before the issue was taken up in the Senate (MEMA (b)). Recently, President Obama uncovered a new plan for a “clean and secure energy future” (Walsh). MEMA has already analyzed the proposal and the opportunities it provides its members. It would, therefore, like its suppliers to be included in the proposal. The proposal is meant to set up an Energy Security Trust Fund, aimed at collecting $2 billion for a period of over 10 years. This is to be used in research into initiatives such as bio-fuels, domestically produced natural gas, electric vehicles, and fuel cells. Since 30% of the $18 billion research and development investment in automotive comes from the supply base, MEMA is concerned that they need to be included in the proposal. The organization therefore, wrote a letter to the white house advocating for the inclusion of suppliers in the proposal (Walsh). Interest groups are there to provide valuable information to policy makers. According to Crain and Santos, information is always provided in the form of testimonies to committees. Information is provided under oath and so the interest groups ensure they provide truthful information. This supports one of the actions of MEMA (Crain & Santos). MEMA has provided a testimony before “the U.S. House Representatives Financial Services Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee” (MEMA (c)). The groups provide such information to the relevant committees free of charge. This may bring in the question of where they get their funds, because, obtaining such kind of information to present to a committee as a testimony is costly, both in terms of money and time. They also do not make money. Interest groups are funded by both government and private institutions. This affects the organizations ability to lobby for something that is of their interest. Most of these organizations were supported by their founding organizations or groups for various reasons. The main reason is advocacy. This could be the case with MEMA. Albiston and Nielsen, however, indicate that the structure of funding has shifted from foundational support to government grants. Most of the
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