Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed former Tennessee State Representative Micah Van Huss to the newsmakers line to talk about his new role with American’s for Prosperity in East Tennessee and the upcoming Citizen Lobbyist Event at 5:30 pm Wednesday evening at the Elks Lodge in Franklin, Tennessee.
Leahy: Joining us now is State Representative Micah Van Huss who’s working with Grant on some citizen lobbying programs and is getting prepared for the next session of the Tennessee General Assembly. Representative Van Huss, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report.
Van Huss: Well, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.
Leahy: Well, we’re delighted to have you here. The Tennessee General Assembly is convening next week. What’s on your agenda for the Tennessee General Assembly? And tell us what’s going on with this Tennessee citizen lobbyist training. I think Grant is working with you on that as well.
Van Huss: Well, after eight years of being in the legislature, nothing is on my agenda because I’m not a legislator anymore as of last year. But I am looking forward to getting down to Nashville and working with Grant to train folks on how to be an effective lobbyist.
Of course, I spent eight years there, and off the top of my head I know the lobbyists. The very few that I actually liked, lobbyist is kind of a bad word when you’re in politics. But there were a few lobbyists who are good lobbyists.
And I’ll tell you real quick, off the top of my head, what made the best lobbyist and the people that I remember the most are the lobbyists who knew that there was always the next issue.
If you are going to try to lobby a legislator, always keep in mind that you probably don’t want to choose an issue to die on. There’s always going to be the next one. So basically, your relationship is super important.
And keep in mind that if the legislature is not with you on this one issue, there’s always going to be another issue. So that would be my number one piece of advice.
Leahy: So tell us. I know Grant, you’re working with former State Representative Micah Van Huss about this citizen lobbyist program, what is that program going to be?
Henry: It’s kind of like it sounds in the title itself. We’re going to learn how to say, effectively communicate with legislators. We’re going to learn why effective advocacy is imperative, especially in this current time. Basic Lobbying 101.
About how to set appointments, what to say in there, how to prep for bills, how to track bills, and really, the Tennessee legislative process.
So it will be me and former State Representative Micah Van Huss who is now our grassroots engagement director out in the Tri-Cities area with Americans for Prosperity area with prosperity.
Leahy: So this is breaking news!
Henry: Micah, when did this happen?
Leahy: When did you become the grassroots director for East Tennessee?
Van Huss: Technically. November 25. No. October 25. I apologize. October 25. I’ve been at it for about two months, going on three now.
Leahy: So this is breaking news, and I missed it for two months. My goodness! Well, congratulations. Who would be better at that than you, Micah?
Van Huss: Well, thank you. Those are kind words. But I worked with AFP. I worked with Tory and James and Andrew Ogles before Tory came along. But I always respected AFP and now it’s easy to respect an organization when your values line up.
I was a policy champion for AFP the last two years. I might have been every year, but I think they only gave out trophies the last two years, so I know for sure I got two trophies in the last few years.
I appreciate the values that AFP brings to the nation, because now that I work for them, I know what they do. But to Tennessee, I always respected the lobbyists, and we aligned on 98 percent of the issues that we had.
And so AFP is an amazing organization, and I’m happy to be working for AFP and also for our freedom for moving government out of people’s lives with AFP.
Leahy: Former executive director Andy Ogles is in studio with us. He wants to say hello.
Ogles: Well, good morning. How are you?
Van Huss: Oh hey Andrew how are you doing?
Ogles: Doing well. When I was working with AFP, there was this cadre of conservatives that you could always rely on when it came to low taxes and less government. And you, by far, were at the top of that list.
Van Huss: Well, thank you. That’s kind of you to say, Andrew, I didn’t know you were in there and I gave you a shout-out. (Laughter) I think one of the coolest battles we had was the repeal of Common Core.
That was 2014 or 15. And that was an amazing battle that we had. An AFP was right there with us, only to find out I’m going to throw a bomb in here.
My daughter started kindergarten this year, so I’m now in the public education system in Tennessee, and only to find out she brought home Common Core and literally it said Common Core in her homework. So there’s a bomb for you, but we’re looking into it now.
Leahy: It’s interesting you say that, and I’ll get to that in a bit. The difference between what the state legislature thinks it’s told the Department of Education to do and what actually happens, there’s a big difference there. And we’ve seen that in numerous instances.
I want to go back to your situation. Micah. You served in the Tennessee General Assembly for eight years. You’ve been out for a bit. What’s the difference between being in the Tennessee General Assembly and engaging with it from the exterior?
Van Huss: Absolutely. The easy answer. My least favorite thing as a politician was sticking my hand in front of somebody’s face while they’re eating their breakfast with their family and saying, hey, look at me.
I didn’t really say that literally. I said, hey, I’m Micah Van Huss. I would always ask for their vote or a donation or come work for me. I always hated it, I guess the easy way to say it is being the center of attention.
I didn’t really like that but also interrupting people’s lives to say, hey, look at me. I hated that. Now working for Americans for Prosperity, I get to do the same thing.
Except for saying, hey, once you help our community, and that is a whole lot easier than being self-centered about how you do it. So I really enjoy the aspect of asking people to help their community rather than hey, help me.
Henry: And I hope one thing that Michael can lend to this training, which, by the way, will start at 5:30 p.m. It will be at the Elks Lodge number 72, which is in 485 Oak Meadow Drive in Franklin, Tennessee.
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