CHLA’s 2023 Legislative Action Summit’s focus on advocacy, legislation, and engagement defined issues and process for California hotels and attendees who navigated Capitol politics with in-office visits with state senators and assemblymembers who are key to understanding and addressing the needs of the hospitality industry.
Increasing hotel advocacy in city, county, and state legislative bodies was a theme struck by all the Summit’s speakers, including Assemblymembers Stephanie Nguyen and Sharon Quirk-Silva, on March 21 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento. Each speaker echoed how much the voice of individual hoteliers, particularly those in legislators’ districts, matter.
“We continue to gain legitimacy at the state capitol when we take a clear position,” said Lynn S. Mohrfeld, CHLA President & CEO. “We strengthen our positions when we show individual legislators why we are making a specific ask.”
Troy Flanagan, EVP of External Government Affairs and Industry Relations for the American Hotel and Lodging Association, echoed the impact that direct engagement with elected leaders has: “We know a rational request well told will serve us well even if it doesn’t always win the vote,” he said.
Dominating the discussions were CHLA’s efforts to protect hoteliers from vexatious litigants who abuse the Americans with Disability Act for financial gain, clarification of resort fees as flagged by President Biden during his State of the Union address, updates to labor negotiations; and California’s critical need to resolve homelessness.
Assemblymember Nguyen, who has introduced Assembly Bill 539, which would prevent lawyers from targeting hotels with shake-down claims about ADA issues, said: “This bill is greater than what is happening with hotels. It should be something we take to all industries, because if it can happen to hotels, it can happen to other businesses.”
April Marie Dawson, Executive Director of the California Commission on Disability Access, championed early engagement and education about about ADA issues, saying, “Franchise hotel chains are number three on top 10 list of high-frequency defendants and alleged violations.” She encouraged all hotels to “convene conversations about ADA requirements before they become costly legal issues.”
Heather Rozman, President and CEO of the Hotel Association of Los Angeles outlined the many ways the hotel community is working with city leaders to address Los Angeles’ number one issue of homelessness and protect hotels from bearing the burden of policies that impact their businesses.
“Homelessness, Homelessness, and Homelessness are our top three issues,” she said. “It impacts our life, our business, and our community. We have to manage any solutions from our perspective, which needs our hotels to be engaged in the process.”
More than 100 attendees met with more than 20 state Senators and Assemblymembers, sharing their perspective on key issues, listening, and reminding them about the importance hotels play in their district economy and California’s economy.