Cole-Bishop Legislation Still Alive and Kicking
Cole-Bishop legislation is still alive. This piece of groundbreaking, bipartisan legislation has survived the tumultuous political landscape of the current American Congress. Vaping advocates the world over can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their current battle is not over yet.
There has been a great deal of talk regarding HR 1136, otherwise known as the Cole-Bishop legislation. This piece of legislation was written and introduced to the Congressional floor before. It served to help establish standards for the vaping industry, and countered then-FDA attempts to stifle the growth of this great industry. With so much talk about this key piece of legislation, it is easy to see how so many readers became inundated with misinformation. But now is the time for some clarification.
So, what is it?
This bill was introduced by Congressmen Sanford Bishop, the Democrat from Georgia, alongside Tom Cole a Republican from Oklahoma. The Cole-Bishop Amendment served as a reminder to the people that the vaping community still had friends on the Hill. The amendment helped to protect options among the vaping community. Previous legislation tried to force users to only buy things on the market from 2007 going back, which would kill any ability to produce new products. This amendment known as “The FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2017’’ decided enough was enough and that the FDA could not kill the vaping industry with regulations, it should help the vaping industry instead.
Status Announcement for HR 1136
So, to begin with, let’s clear some things up. VTA members and members of the OHVTA have worked hard to get Cole-Bishop introduced into the federal budget. These same individuals have confirmed that the standalone bill has a chance of being added into negotiations for future federal budget debates. As such, this is no time to be grieving for the loss of potential growth. This is the time to focus on fighting the good fight for the vaping community.
Vape Advocates need a change. They need a victory. And this bill was originally thought of as that potential victory, before many believed it to be dead on arrival. Well, now is the time to celebrate the rebirth of this bill and the rebirth of change. For a long time vape advocates thought that HR 1136 was done for. Why? Misinterpretations, miscommunications & misunderstandings. Sure, there is still a chance that it will be defeated in the future, that it will not make it into the federal budget, or that when it finally does it will not look anything like the original bill. But these possibilities do not mean that worst is here. They do not mean the bill is dead, or that the vaping community has no chance at real change or progress. It just means that the fight is not over. Moreover, it means that many among the vaping community did not have a thorough understanding of how the American democratic process worked, and they perhaps incorrectly believed that the previous version of the bill was killed on the Congressional floor, never to be heard of again.
The truth of the matter is that many times bills are introduced and people get their hopes up. They are excited for change. Then nothing happens. That bill sits around, gathering dust, waiting for a co-sponsor. During this time people lose the last of their hope. That bill though, might still stand a chance, it might still survive. Many times bills have been considered dead, and then were revised, renegotiated, and given a new life. Older bills are often reviewed and brought back to the bargaining table in the future. It is really all about who is willing to fight for them, and who is willing to make compromises in the process.
American politics are not as simple as one might think. The legislative process is also not all rainbows and butterflies, nor pure democratic. The reality of the political situation is that most of the negotiations for bills happens behind the scenes and is reliant upon co-sponsorship, which is built out of personal relationships among those who want to see change. That said, once a bill is drafted, in order for it to really move forward, there has to be lobbying behind the scenes by special interests advocates. There have to be relationships cultivated and deals made.
Sure, this bill was among the last to be chosen but that is hardly what is most important here. Whether the bill was the first one to be picked for the team or the last one to be picked for the team, what is important is that it was picked. October was the month to look out for because it is the month when the federal budget is voted upon. It is also the time when Cole-Bishop will be selected by Congressional members to be included in the financial discussions. In order to avoid a Congressional shut down in the past, this bill had been hastily shoved onto the playing field. Regardless of what circumstances brought this to pass, the vaping community should be grateful for the opportunity.
Now, the fact that it is still alive does not mean the work is done. There are lots of things left to do. Now is the time to move forward and remain optimistic about the legislation. Positive attitudes, messages of support to representatives, all of that can go a long way toward fueling the determination of special advocates lobbying on the Hill for vaping rights right now. In spite of attempts by Congress to stifle the progress of the industry, or members of Congress choosing not to support the ill, there is still hope that soon enough the Cole-Bishop bipartisan bill, HR 1136, will find its way into the federal budget soon enough. Each year that passes just means a few setbacks, but it does not mean all is lost.
Keep a Positive Attitude
With so much still up in the air, it is important for members of the vaping community to take a step back and reflect upon what their representatives in the field have to say about the issues at hand, the political landscape, and what moves need to be made going forward.
James Jarvis, the president of the Ohio Vapor Trade Association remained positive when he stated, “The fact that Cole-Bishop did not make it into the budget package should not have us hanging our heads! This was not a failure by any means, we actually were on the board and a part of the solution. This means we were getting their attention. This also means that we will now be able to see where we missed the target so we can be even better prepared for the opportunity to have Cole-Bishop added in October to that budget. We actually made it to the dance!! We have never done that before, it is unprecedented in this industry! It motivates me even more to get out there and educate them. WE are a community of winners! We are all living proof that this works….Lets get out and let them know we are still here and need their support. We made it to the goal line and now we just need a huge surge from the team to push it into the end zone! We have 5 months from today to execute the perfect drive. Let’s Go!”
Tony Abboud, the executive director of the VTA has been rather open about the future of this bill and the industry at large. He could well be considered one of the best lobbyists the vaping community has on their side and it is evident that his hard work and professionalism has already helped countless Americans and vaping businesses. Here’s hoping it will only continue to do so.
Mr. Abboud stated, “The support we received for Cole-Bishop from members on both sides of the aisle is unprecedented and sets the stage for future legislative victories for the vapor industry. VTA is committed to looking beyond the FY 2017 appropriations cycle and fighting for passage of bipartisan language to change the predicate date and address the FDA’s deeming regulation in other legislative vehicles, such as HR 1136 and the FY 2018 appropriations process which already has started. This was a significant step forward in VTA’s multi-faceted federal strategy to ensure that the vapor industry gets the relief it needs now to keep these life changing products on the market.” It will certainly take many years until everyone learns how to negotiate using the right communication skills with the right people.
To better understand the imperative role the VTA plays in all of this, just read what the Vapor Technology Association had to say about the treacherous political waters of D.C. politics:
“VTA has been working closely with Breathe Easier Alliance of Alabama (BEAA) on an administration strategy for the past couple months. Last week, we met with senior leadership at HHS emphasizing the need to re-evaluate the deeming regulation. Earlier today, Stacey Hamilton, President of BEAA and VTA Board Member, informed us that FDA sought an extension of its briefing schedule in Cyclops Vapor v. FDA so that the FDA could re-evaluate the deeming. Sure enough, this afternoon FDA announced that it is doing so in all cases and that it is going to issue guidance to defer enforcement of all future compliance deadlines for all newly deemed products by an additional 3 months so that new leadership at the FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services can have additional time to more fully consider issues raised by the final rule that are now the subject of multiple lawsuits. This is an important step forward in our D.C. efforts.”
It isn’t over until the fat lady sings…
So, let’s reiterate: The Cole-Bishop Amendment is still doing well. One of the first pieces of the bill was not included in the federal budget but the most recent installment of the bill, nonetheless, still stands. So, with a lot of continued hard work, hope, and a smidge of lucky, within the next few months one can easily imagine it being brought into the budget. This is certainly not the end of this bill and with additional support by representatives like Duncan Hunter and members of the vaping community, real change is on the horizon.
It is imperative that the vaping community be grateful toward the advocates who have come together in support of the right to vape. This type of unity is clearly powerful, and with hope in legislation still alive and kicking, it is time for users everywhere to rekindle the fire for vaping and take a stand alongside representatives.
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