Let’s Caucus: Candy, Cut Flowers and Concrete


What do these three items have in common? No, it’s not a Valentine’s Day gone bad for a mobster (though possible). All three subjects actually have congressional caucuses in their honor, during which legislators explore ways to promote their industries on Capitol Hill.

The newest entrant is the Congressional Candy Caucus – announced June 16 – which highlights “the economic impact, responsibility commitments and community involvement” of the candy manufacturing industry. One of its founders, Rep. Jackie Walorski (Indiana’s 2nd District) says: “Candy manufacturers like the South Bend Chocolate Company in my district have a long and lasting tradition of not only making Americans’ favorite treats but creating good jobs and growing our economy.”

No doubt that’s true, but I’m guessing there will also be some chocolate indulgence when the caucus members meet.

There are literally HUNDREDS of these congressional groups. Some lofty; others more frivolous – at least on the surface.

The July-August issue of BizVoice magazine examines caucuses that may leave you scratching your head or simply wanting to know more about what they really promote.

Surf the Great Lakes (Caucus) on the Web

Are you interested in Great Lakes legislative issues? (It’s OK, don’t be shy, we all have our niches. I, for instance, am a sucker for "Dukes of Hazzard" paraphernalia.)

If so, you might note that the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus recently established an online presence. The caucus is a nonpartisan affair, including legislators from eight states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin) and two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Quebec).

According to the site, the caucus has three primary goals:

1. Facilitate the regional exchange of ideas and information on key Great Lakes issues 
2. Strengthen the role of state and provincial legislators in the policymaking process
3. Promote the restoration and protection of the Great Lakes

In this year’s state legislature, the passage of SB 45 made Indiana the first state to adopt the Great Lakes Compact and implemenation language. The Indiana Chamber has been a supporter of the Great Lakes Compact that will restrict the diversion of waters from the basin. Prior to the session, the Chamber, in cooperation with environmental interest groups, hosted the Indianapolis public meeting on the compact. In testimony, the Chamber noted that nearly 20% of the world’s fresh water is contained in the Great Lakes and that we must do what we can to preserve and protect this valuable resource that is critical to many Indiana businesses, industries and residents.

The other seven states and two Canadian provinces on the Great Lakes must adopt the compact before it goes to Congress for ratification.

Take a look at the Great Lakes Caucus news often for the latest developments. We know Wisconsin’s own Tom Wopat (aka Luke Duke) will be checking it out.