While it’s not yet known where COVID-19 will be next January when the Montana Legislature convenes, Missoula County is turning to a familiar firm to lobby on its behalf in what could be unusual times.
The county on Tuesday renewed its contract with Northbound Public Affairs, owned by Rebecca Meyers, to serve as the county’s official lobbyist during the 2021 session. The contract pays $3,500 a month and puts a team at work to represent the interests of the county and its taxpayers.
“It’s a great thing (Meyers) already has relationships with a whole lot of legislators, even though there probably are some new ones coming in,” said Commissioner Josh Slotnick. “It would be really hard to start from scratch right now without having those preexisting relationships.”
Meyers and Northbound Public Affairs has served as the county’s contract lobbyist for several years. The contract expired in June and Tuesday’s renewal is good one of year.
With the pandemic lurking, the Legislature may take an online format. While the details haven’t been hashed out just yet, such a format could make lobbying difficult if hallway conversations can’t or don’t take place.
“I think Meyers’ work during the interim now, building those relationships, will really be a benefit if that’s what we have in the next session,” said county COO Chris Lounsbury.
Lounsbury added that Meyers works closely with fellow lobbyist Jeff Peterson, who can also work on the county’s behalf.
“He’ll back up anything we need covered during that time,” Lounsbury said. “He also provides some of the background support during the session for Meyers, so he’s also up there lobbying and can speak on our behalf if there’s multiple hearings occurring.”