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Young CPAs connect with state legislators

Written on Jul 31, 2020

YCPADay16By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

It’s not every day CPAs get the opportunity to personally connect with their state legislators to learn how to make a difference in the outcome of legislation affecting themselves and their clients.

On Tuesday, a group of about 30 young CPAs and accounting professionals participated in the second annual Legislative Leadership in Action event in downtown Columbus, getting an insider’s look at the legislative process.

Tom Zaino, CPA, JD, former Ohio tax commissioner and past chair of the OSCPA Executive Board, kicked off the event by emphasizing why it’s critically necessary for accounting professionals to communicate with legislators.

“It’s important to interact with the general assembly on policy issues,” he said. “These people impact not only what we do for our clients, but for our businesses as CPAs.”

Rep. Robert McColley, R-Napoleon, and Rep. Kristin Boggs, D-Columbus, shared their experiences as young state representatives and answered questions from the group on topics like time commitments, talking with constituents, tax law, issues affecting CPAs and more.

Paige Fitzwater, CPA, and Jeff Purcell, both tax consultants from Deloitte, agreed that the chance to speak with reps was eye-opening.

“I wouldn’t even hesitate now to contact them, they’re so accessible,” Purcell said. “If there’s anything that ever came up with a client I think this makes it easy to see that you can just reach out and talk. I had no idea it was like that at all. It would spur me to take action more so than it would in the past.”

Barb Benton, CAE, OSCPA’s vice president of governmental affairs and Greg Saul, Esq., director of tax policy, discussed the scope of the OSCPA governmental affairs team, including the critical roles grassroots efforts, lobbying and Ohio CPA/PAC play in OSCPA’s ability to successfully advocate for the CPA profession.

In the afternoon the group met with Senator Bob Peterson (R-Washington Court House), Chairman of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, and Rep. Gary Scherer (R-Circleville), the only CPA currently serving in the Ohio legislature, and the Vice Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee.

“I didn’t realize how much the legislators rely on OSCPA, so for me that’s really encouraging,” Fitzwater said. “This gives me more faith in OSCPA and our voice as CPAs being heard in the legislature. The bills they’re passing are not done blindly, they’re getting guidance from us and protecting our interests.”