Legislation: Be proactive, not reactive

Almonte What a horrible, heartbreaking day.

Twenty thousand jobs lost at Caterpillar. Eight thousand lost at Sprint Nextel. Seven thousand at Home Depot. Eight thousand at  Pfizer and Wyeth. Two thousand at General Motors. Thirty-four hundred at Texas Instruments. Seven thousand at IMG. Six thousand at Philips. Thirty-five hundred at Corus.

All told, Jan. 26, 2009 will be known as the day when nearly 72,000 jobs were eliminated worldwide.

Think of it this way: There's a person, perhaps an entire family, behind each of those jobs. The human toll is simply astounding.

And when that many people are impacted, can regulation be far off?

That, says AICPA Chair Ernie Almonte, is why CPAs need to be active legislatively.

Lawmakers will react when their constituents suffer. And if no one is there to explain the consequences of their actions, we could be looking at serious repercussions for CPAs, their clients, Maryland businesses and consumers at large.

"Regulation could be a major (issue) for the CPA profession this year," Almonte said during a recent presentation to the Maryland Association of CPAs' Board of Directors. "Inaction (by regulators) would probably be a mistake, but overreaction could be an even bigger mistake. If (CPAs) don't get involved, we run the risk that regulators will overreact."

And if regulators overreact, we end up with things like, oh, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, for example.

We need CPAs who are engaged, who are ready to step up and protect the profession and, by extension, their clients and the business community.

In short, we need CPAs to join us at CPA Day in Annapolis. We'll have the opportunity to talk directly with our legislators and explain how potential legislation could impact Maryland businesses and consumers alike.

"We have to develop a rapport with legislators," Almonte said. "We have to develop relationships with legislators and become a trusted advisor for them. Once that happens, our message carries more weight."

It all starts on CPA Day, set for Wednesday, Jan. 28 in Annapolis. CPAs will have the opportunity to meet face to face with their legislators and discuss issues of importance to the profession.

This is it, folks -- your opportunity to step forward and protect your profession, your clients and our economy. It all starts Wednesday in Annapolis. Join us, and make a difference.


Bill Sheridan